EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 122 - July 11, 2004 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 7

Using the eBay Affiliate Program to Boost Your Income

By Mark O'Neill

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In one of my previous articles, I discussed eBay Marketplace (Merchant Kit) and how you can use your Web site along with Marketplace to boost the visibility of your eBay auctions http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y204/m06/abu0120/s03. In this article, I want to tell you about another way to use your Web site to your advantage: the eBay affiliate program.

Online affiliate programs, where you advertise the company in exchange for a percentage of any sales you refer to them, have been around for nearly a decade. (Amazon's was one of the first, starting in 1996) They come in all shapes and forms. Some are good and give you the chance of making money, some aren't so good, and your chances of making money are extremely poor. EBay's Affiliate Program stands out as one of the best ones simply because you are advertising a Web site that is extremely popular and well known, plus eBay is generous with their commission payments (eBay recently announced that affiliate payments will increase). I would rank eBay up there along with Amazon, which is the best affiliate program on the Net.

eBay's affiliate program is run in the U.S. and UK by Commission Junction, and in Germany by Affilinet. By clicking on the affiliate link on the relevant eBay site, you are taken to a page with more information and an application form. You have to give details such as your Web site address, purpose of your site, your site content and so on. The application is then examined by eBay, your Web site is checked, and if everything meets their standards then you are approved.

So how are you supposed to promote eBay? To begin with, you are given a choice of well designed HTML and javascript banners, buttons, links, search boxes and live auction feeds which you can insert into your Web site. When someone clicks on a banner, button or link then they are taken to the eBay site with a cookie on their computer showing that you referred them. Every page they go to also has your own unique affiliate code added to the Web site box so you are credited for anything they do.

You make money from eBay under the following circumstances:

  • If someone clicks on your link, registers as a new eBay user, and places a bid within 30 days of registering.
  • If an already registered user clicks on your link and places a bid on a live eBay auction.

The promotional banners and buttons are well-designed and at the very least you are showing your Web site visitors that you are an eBay fan. If you take a look at my Web site, you will see various banners I have inserted on the pages. This can give you an idea of what they look like. Being in Germany, I am a member of the German eBay affiliate program. You can only apply for the eBay program in your country of residence.

The downside to having eBay adverts on your Web site is that you run the risk of sending customers away to eBay where your competitors are waiting. So the adverts may look good on your site but in the long term, you may be losing money. So you have to carefully consider the pros and cons of being an affiliate and decide the risk factor of sending your customers to your eBay rivals.

So with eBay links on your Web site, you're all set to make money! The maxim of any successful Web site is "Content is King." With live eBay auctions on your site and payments whenever you refer someone to the eBay site, what more could any self-respecting webmaster ask for?

EBay Affiliate Links

http://affiliates.ebay.com
http://affiliates.ebay.co.uk
http://affiliates.ebay.de

eBay Opens API to Affiliates
In addition to increasing its affiliate commissions, eBay recently expanded the program by opening its API program to affiliates. The eBay API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of functions for querying the eBay platform commonly used by software developers. You can read more at http://developer.ebay.com/devprogram/membership/affiliate.asp. There is a one-time $250 sign-up fee for joining eBay's API affiliate tier.

There is some controversy surrounding the eBay affiliate program. Some unscrupulous eBay affiliates have spammed the search engines by using cloaked Web pages and redirects http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y03/m10/i24/s00. Cloaking and redirects are against search engines' policies, and eBay said it requires its affiliates to use industry best practices and adhere to its terms and conditions. However, eBay does permit its affiliates to copy descriptions from eBay listings and populate Web pages in order to draw traffic, and eBay confirmed this controversial policy in late June.

Other Affiliate Programs
Many sites and services offer affiliate and referral programs. Online auction site Bidville has a program described at http://digbig.com/4bjtm, and online payment service PayPal has a program at http://digbig.com/4bjtn. Ask your service providers if they have such a program.


About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, MakeUseOf.com. He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'Neill.org.


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