Coding For Online Success

Prepare for eBay Partner Network cutover.


eBay Partner Network

Most of you should know that eBay is leaving Commission Junction and have started their own affiliate network called the eBay Partner Network. You can learn more about it at their blog as well.

What does this mean? And how does that affect us? Well, leaving Commission Junction will put a serious hit on my four bar earners status, but like I keep saying, it’s important to diversify… so I’m going to continue to push other merchants to help keep funds coming in from CJ. There will most likely be some issues with the cutover and tracking related to EPN, but eBay has been historically good with working with their affiliates to correct and compensate them. To me, the biggest issue will be the initial work to cut sites over.

I wanted to describe my plan on the cutover to possibly help others with this as well. These are my plans, so take this with a grain of salt. This is also assuming that you have similar set ups as I.

Step #1 is audit your sites. As I’ve been developing and creating different sites and applications, my list has grown and grown. I have a custom affiliate tracker program that I wrote that will greatly help me here. I’ll print of a list of affiliate sites involving eBay. Now with this list, I plan on changing 10 sites on April 1. I want sites that do get good clicks AND sales so I can determine tracking is working… but I don’t want to cut over ALL sites.. just yet.

Step #2 is to sign up with EPN. There is some FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doom) related to this. What happens if they don’t accept me, etc? Valid worries, but I feel good about it. I’m in the United States, so that should help with initial sign up. I’m hoping that they’re actually going to take CJ’s account ID for this. If so, everyone should transition fine.

Step #3 Get tracking IDs and code. I’ll try to explain some of the changes. First off, as mentioned above, I’m hoping that they have some process where we can enter our CJ Account ID for transitioning to EPN. Along with that, wouldn’t it be nice if they brought over our web sites??? I hope so, but if not, that means we’ll need to add individual web sites again in their system. What I do know is this.

PIDs will now be campid or CampaignID:
“Campaign ID is 9 digit unique number that you embed within your links to associate the traffic you drive with your account. It is valid across all programs that you have been accepted to.”

SID will now be customid:
“The Custom ID is an user defined 256 character flexible field that you can use to better monitor your marketing efforts.”

AID will now be toolid:
“The Tool ID associates your marketing efforts with a particular tool, link, or creative.”

This information was provided by eBay’s Developer Program. You can view fully here.

Step #4 converting existing rover links. The good thing is that rover URL will remain the same along with mpre for direct link to auctions. The bad news is that we’ll need to change PID, SID and AID on our links. All of my applications have a PHP constant which contains the rover code and a dynamic variable containing the PID which is added to the rover constant. I also have some direct links within database driven content.

So the first part won’t be too bad. I’ll have to change a few lines in my PHP code to update the rover link. Those of you that have ‘generated’ HTML pages (first off.. shame on you.. you should be using a server side language to dynamically make HTML content on the fly), you’ll need to find a way to extended find a replace. This means it’ll search sub directories and possibly use regular expressions to find and replace strings within files. If your HTML editor is any good (Dreamweaver, etc), there should be a find/replace function. Here is some advice, backup the site first before messing with this. You can mess stuff up re-al quick.

If you have content in the database, this will mean that you’ll need to update your database with SQL.

UPDATE yourtable
SET YourContentField = REPLACE('AID=',REPLACE('SID=',REPLACE('PID=',YourContentField,'campid='),'customid='),'toolid=')
WHERE YourContentField LIKE '%rover.ebay%'

Just like using extended find and replace, make sure you do a DB dump first! “Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Step #5 Test Test Test. It’s important to get traffic to these sites and verify that clicks/sales/ACRUs are working correctly. My plan is to sit on these 10 sites for 3-4 days. If all is good, I’ll push the rest to this format. I want to take advantage of the early cutover, since eBay is giving an extra 5% commission for sales in April to encourage this change over.

I’ll keep you posted on my experience. If you have anything to add, please post a comment.



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