How do you get 17,000 publishers signed up to a service in 90 days? When your nickname is "Shoemoney," it isn't too hard. Jeremy "Shoemoney" Schoemaker's company, AuctionAds (http://www.auctionads.com), has accomplished just that, and has become one of eBay's biggest affiliates. It also just won a star developer award at the eBay Developers' Conference in June.
AuctionBytes sat down with Schoemaker, President of AuctionAds, and the company's CTO David Dellanave, to talk about the affiliate business, how they got started, and how being an affiliate might help fill your own shoes with money.
"We saw there was a service needed," said Schoemaker. "It's not easy to get up and running with the eBay affiliate program. With us, you can be running and making money within a minute."
He said they looked at their experiences with other ad networks in creating the service - in terms of types of ads, there are the standard ad sizes - banner formats, for example - but also things like thumbnail images. With eBay's huge array of products, it makes for a lot of possibilities with ads. "eBay has a vast inventory," explained Schoemaker.
"Most people use a skyscraper (style ad)," he said - a tall, rectangular banner that runs down one side of a web page. "People can customize the colors," he says, though his advice is to "keep it simple."
AuctionAds' focus right now has been on growth: They make money through eBay's tiered payout structure, but "our goal is to pass on 100 percent to customers to grow that base," said Schoemaker, as in the end, the users who grow with them will stay with them.
But can eBay sellers really make a decent amount of money themselves with eBay's affiliate program? Of course it depends some on your web presence: "If you are an eBay seller but you also have your own site, and you're driving traffic back to eBay, you're going to help yourself quite a bit by getting paid for it. The new seller-as-affiliate terms allow that now, and sellers should definitely take advantage of it," said Dellanave.
Schoemaker believes a mom and pop-type shop that gets "one or two credits a day" can earn what an affiliate who makes tons of money makes. "The eBay affiliate program gives you a percentage of what they take from the seller - (you) get 60% back. If you're linking at all to eBay and not using it, you're losing money," he said.
How does AuctionAds get their users? "Eighty-seven percent of new users come from seeing a widget or an ad," said Schoemaker. To get more real estate, they decided to partner with people, and offer people $5 as an incentive to try their tool.
Affiliate marketing was all the buzz at this year's eBay DevCon, and in fact was one of the tracks at the conference. Schoemaker presented a session about Search Engine Optimization, and was on the Affiliate Industry Summit panel as well. One of the things Schoemaker believes in strongly is a lot of testing and analytics: he suggested the tool openads.com (http://www.openads.org) - "for affiliate marketers, that's one of the best tools"; and also heatmaps, which tell you where on the page people click, available at http://www.crazyegg.com. "For me, it's about analytics, tools, and testing."
Schoemaker's blog is at http://www.shoemoney.com, and he hosts the weekly radio show "Net Income" Tuesdays at Tuesday at 6pm Eastern at http://www.webmasterradio.fm.