EBay to Take Over Affiliate Program's Management

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EBay will soon take over management of the affiliate programs for its core marketplace and for its Half.com site from ValueClick in the hopes that it can operate them more efficiently.

In early April, EBay will begin to migrate the roughly 100,000 affiliates away from ValueClick's Commission Junction to the new in-house platform, the company was due to announce Monday.

One affiliate looking forward to the change is GetItNext, a search engine for eBay listings that gets a commission every time its visitors click over to eBay and buy a product.

"ValueClick's Commission Junction does a fairly good job, but the product over the years has grown a bit stagnant and hasn't been keeping up with the demands affiliates have had," said Ron Stewart, GetItNext's CEO.

For example, GetItNext routinely has to manually "dig out" data it feels is essential about its referrals, sales and commissions from the ValueClick reports, Stewart said.

In addition, the company has encountered data integrity problems with the information it receives from ValueClick, forcing GetItNext to engage in very time-consuming data reconciliation efforts, Stewart said.

GetItNext has been beta testing the eBay system and is encouraged by its tests so far, and in particular by the development road map, which promises a significant improvement over the ValueClick tools, he said.

From eBay's perspective, a key goal is to establish a closer relationship with its affiliates, which are an important part of the company's marketing and sales operation, said Matt Ackley, eBay's vice president of Internet marketing.

By eliminating the inherent latency of having a third party involved in the process, eBay hopes to be able to more quickly analyze affiliate data and make more effective decisions about the program, Ackley said.

Migrating to the eBay affiliate platform will involve what Ackley described as a simple process of swapping listing tags, but how manual or automated the process is on the affiliates' end will depend on how they have set up their systems, he said.

GetItNow's Stewart expects the migration will be smooth for his company. "Because of the way we built the site, changing the parameters will be very simple, with a slight change of code," Stewart said.

Later this year, eBay might take over other of its affiliate programs that ValueClick manages, which include the ones for StubHub, ProStores and eBay Stores, Ackley said.

Affiliates come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including Web publishers that carry sellers' listings, merchants that market their products on their own Web sites, Web sites that display eBay banner ads and firms that do e-mail marketing, he said.

ValueClick, which has managed the eBay and Half.com affiliate programs since 2001, didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

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