As I fly to Reagan National Airport today for the Type-A Parent Conference, I want to remind all the bloggers I meet about a conundrum they face in affiliate marketing. You know that cute little banner on your homepage promoting Ebates, the cash back behemoth? You might be making money from them but at the same time, they are picking your pocket.
Maybe you make money referring customers to their platform. Perhaps you earned … $100 this year. But how much have you lost in commissions to them through other merchants you promote? Would an amount higher than $100 surprise you? I would estimate hundreds more. Ebates is an affiliate, like you, just bigger. They also have an affiliate program, which pays well. But, ultimately, their goal is to close on the sales you influence and earn that full commission. When you send them your audience, you lose.
In this evolving world of affiliate marketing where networks such as ShareASale allow managers to create fair and balanced attribution rules, Ebates is stuck in the past. They demand last click attribution. You wrote the review. You produced the video. You shared it all on social media. The customer was convinced to buy the product but at the very last second, the Ebates software on their computer took credit for your commission. You get nothing. That is the effect of last click attribution.
Your Conversion Solution
Have you ever wondered why your affiliate marketing conversion is so low with bigger brands or on certain networks that favor loyalty and coupon sites? This is part of your conversion problem. Most programs do not offer attribution rules or commission splitting. With the Apogee rules on the ShareASale network, we favor content affiliates in the clickstream. Coupon affiliates (think RetailMeNot) earn 2% in all programs. A content producer like a blogger or YouTuber might earn 12% in a program. If a coupon site closes on a sale you influence, the coupon site gets its 2% and your commission is reduced by 2%. Would you rather have 10% or nothing?
When a loyalty affiliate (like Ebates) closes on a content affiliate under our rules, the loyalty affiliate gets nothing. Splitting commissions with cash back customers causes customer service issues for loyalty sites and the brands. I’d rather just explain that the influencer deserved the full commission. Apogee works with Honey and other cash back platforms but they agree to our terms. They understand they will lose commissions on a small percentage of sales because they were originally influenced by content affiliates. Ebates, as I learned yesterday, refuses to integrate with new programs that do not offer 100% last click attribution.
When fair attribution rules are in place to protect content producers, content producers see higher conversion rates and better commission payouts.
If I were giving the keynote in front of 500 bloggers this weekend, I’d put together an analogy like this. I’m going to pass out crisp $100 bills to everyone in the audience. But at the end of the speech, everyone has to give me $400 back. You might be earning money promoting Ebates, but you will never know how much you are losing by promoting a huge competitor.
We do not work with Ebates. We might consider it in the future, but they will have to abide by our attribution rules. The industry will not grow under the last click attribution model. We need to help content affiliates see higher conversions.
If you see Ebates in a program that you’re a part of, consider complaining to the manager of that program. Point them to this post if you like. I’m happy to have a conversation with that manager at any time.