eBay is cutting compensation up to 70% for certain affiliates who drive traffic to its site effective today, January 19, 2019, a further sign the company is engaged in cost-cutting.
But does it make sense for eBay to cut back on performance marketing and risk alienating affiliates (who only get paid when they succeed in bringing traffic and sales to the site) at a time when it's struggling to grow sales? It's a difficult question to answer given the lack of specifics coming from the company.
An eBay spokesperson confirmed it was making some changes, providing the following email response to our inquiry:
"We regularly look at our business and make adjustments as necessary to our affiliate program. Like many retailers, we're focused on new and reactivated buyers, and deepening their relationship with eBay over time.
"This adjustment impacts our partners in the buyer/seller tools business model and some partners that focus on the collectibles category. We reached out to all impacted partners by email and/or phone as soon as possible."
She declined to provide detailed information about the new rates, which have not been updated on the eBay website.
Publishers who participate in the eBay Partner Network (ePN) program say the way eBay went about the cutback is disappointing. Some ePN participants received an email that they say lacked specifics and were given less than a week's notice. Others received no email at all.
Some question the timing - eBay conveniently waited until one week after Affiliate Summit West
, a major industry conference, thus sparing the ePN team and Director of Paid Marketing Analytics Carlos Avello from having to respond to questions about the unpopular rate cuts from affiliates during the event.
Avello spoke at the event with Chris Jensen of Ibotta, with whom eBay has been working to bring affiliate marketing to mobile apps.
The clues to eBay's strategy are piling up: it is concentrating on deals and mobile, de-emphasizing collectibles, and is apparently de-emphasizing buyer and seller tools.
eBay CEO Devin Wenig may shed more light on his marketing strategy during the fourth-quarter earnings call at the end of the month.