eBay Affiliate Program Analysis


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eBay is an ecommerce 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 ecommerce ecosystem includes specialty websites like Shopping.com, StubHub, Gumtree, Kijiji, and Vivanuncios. A fun fact about eBay is it was previously owned by PayPal.

Company Profile

  • 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 benefits, drawbacks, commission rate, cookie length, and details of the program.

Program Benefits

eBay is a top online destination and trusted ecommerce 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.

Affiliates 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 excellent. An affiliate landing page is supposed to be informative, and eBay hits the mark. 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 can 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. Instead, random customer service representatives are responsible for addressing publisher inquiries. When a merchant has the staff to support publishers, it quickens processes and shows commitment.

Making Money

Can you make $1,000 a month as an EPN affiliate? While eBay is a top ecommerce company, it’s unlikely that you will make that amount or a 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, consultant, and publisher. He helps businesses and individuals achieve growth and financial success. Learn more at digitalfodder.com/about


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