eBay Affiliate Program: Overview, Commission Rate, Pros, and Cons

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eBay is an e-commerce company that connects buyers and sellers globally. It offers an online auction model in which users can purchase products by bidding and buying at set prices. Featured product categories include fashion, home accessories, electronics, motors, collectibles, antiques, visual art, stationery, electronics, and more. eBay operates in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. Its e-commerce ecosystem includes specialty websites like Shopping.com, StubHub, Gumtree, Kijiji, and Vivanuncios. A fun fact about eBay is it was previously owned by PayPal.

eBay Company Logo

  • Founded by Pierre Omidyar in 1995
  • Headquarters: San Jose, California, USA
  • Online auction and “Buy It Now” options
  • 1 billion+ live listings
  • 175 million active buyers in 190 markets
  • Gross merchandise volume (GMV) of $90 billion
  • A top ten global retail brand
  • In the United States, a TV, video, or home audio item is purchased every three seconds
eBay Affiliate Program

The eBay affiliate program, eBay Partner Network (EPN), is one of the first programs many new bloggers and affiliates learn about it. Anyone with an eBay account in good standing can join the program. The program is self-hosted and uses proprietary affiliate tracking software. Let’s review the pros, cons, commission rate, cookie length, payout threshold, and other pertinent details.

Program Benefits

eBay is a top online destination and trusted e-commerce company that has something for everyone. There are millions of listings across many product categories. Also, there are localized websites for the United States, Germany, France, Canada, and Australia. In fact, 60 percent of eBay’s revenue comes from international sites.

EPN has a generous commission structure of 50 to 70 percent depending on the product category (see “Rate Card“). Affiliates can get additional bonuses equal to 100 percent (1x) of their base earnings when qualifying transactions are made by new buyers or reactivated buyers who have not purchased from eBay in the prior 12 months.

eBay’s payout threshold is low. EPN pays commissions once a month for accounts that have earned more than ten units of their home currency, for example, ten dollars in the United States.

eBay HomepageAffiliates can create custom banners. You can choose the ad layout, theme, and content for your banner then preview it before adding it to your site. Standard banners are also available.

The affiliate program landing page is complete. At first glance, EPN’s landing page may seem insufficient and dull. However, its tidy and compact appearance delivers. In the footer section of the page, there are many links that direct to valuable information such as What Is Affiliate Marketing, How It Works, Affiliate Tracking, and EPN Tools. In the resources menu, you’ll find guides, success stories, webinars, an affiliate glossary, and a comprehensive FAQ. EPN’s done an excellent job of making program info accessible to affiliates.

eBay provides a robust set of affiliate marketing tools. Its “smart suite” optimizes link placement for automation and quickness. Smart Placements’ personalize display ads based on a customer’s browsing history. Smart Share is a Chrome extension to share links on Facebook and Pinterest.

Deep linking is available through a bookmarklet tool and link generator. Deep linking is the practice by which an affiliate creates a link to a specific page on the merchant’s site. For example, instead of using a generic homepage affiliate link, I deep link to an article that relates to my post. Publishers can deep link to search results, trends, events, daily deals, and more. RSS feeds, APIs, and product feeds are available too.

Reporting and analytics are straightforward and foolproof. EPN’s reporting dashboard provides all the details affiliates would want such as marketplace source, traffic type, impressions, clicks, earnings, and conversion rates.

Program Drawbacks

EPN’s 24-hour cookie is a significant drawback. Affiliates get paid for “qualifying transactions.” A qualifying transaction occurs when (1) an end user makes a purchase within 24 hours after clicking your link for a “Buy It Now” item, or (2) a user places a bid on an auction item within 24 hours of clicking your link and wins that auction within ten days. A 24-hour cookie is a disadvantage because publishers must rely on customers to make purchases within that period to get credit. Alternatively, many affiliate programs have 30 to 90-day cookies and conversion periods. I typically don’t join or prioritize programs with cookies of less than 30 days.

Affiliates can’t access every marketplace, only those in North America and Europe. eBay is available in many Latin American and Asian countries, but those markets are inaccessible in EPN. It would be beneficial to have access to all of eBay’s properties through one portal.

There isn’t a dedicated affiliate manager. I like to see that a merchant has assigned someone to support publishers. In some programs that I participate in, it’s difficult to reach the affiliate manager or get a response promptly. I haven’t dealt with eBay’s customer service, so I don’t know how efficient they are regarding inquiries. Nevertheless, I’m not a fan of random people tackling affiliate issues.


Making Money

Can you make $1,000 a month with EPN? It’s unlikely that you will make $1,000 monthly or significant income. Although EPN pays high commission rates, its 24-hour cookie will constrain your earnings and conversions. You would need huge traffic numbers to compensate for the program’s short cookie length. Secondly, EPN affiliates who claim to be making thousands of dollars each month are probably lying or did so many years ago.

Where should eBay rank in your marketing activities? It should be a low priority. Although you can earn money, you must be practical and maintain low expectations. I’ve made a few dollars but don’t expect monthly payouts.

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Chad Tennant

Chad is an online marketer, content creator, and advisor. His primary goals are to help businesses and individuals achieve growth and financial success. Learn more at digitalfodder.com/about


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