Dear Mr eBay, Please Call Squidoo

Can’t ePN and Squidoo Get Along?

Since the announcement of the change to eBay affiliate payout structure this past August 19th, there has been a LOT of craziness surrounding the eBay Partner Network (eBay’s in-house affiliate program). One of the main changes was the new guideline that retracted affiliates option to put their eBay affiliate links on web pages they do not own. In other words, sites like HubPages and Squidoo that were once famous for being a strong authority sites to expose your links are now a “no go”. It seemed as if eBay was going to work something out with Squidoo tho since Squidoo is such a strong affiliate for eBay. However, this has not happened…leaving many Squidoo lensmasters out to dry.

The Squidoo eBay Earnings Module

When the eBay Partner Network made it so we could no longer use our own eBay affiliate links on a Squidoo lens, we lensmasters breathed a sigh of relief to find that at least we could still use Squidoo’s eBay modules. These eBay modules allow us to promote eBay items as an affiliate under Squidoo’s eBay affiliate account. When our lens earned something via eBay’s affiliate program, those earnings would be tagged to our lens and then Squidoo generously split those commissions with us.

Since eBay has gone to this new Quality Click Pricing payout structure that pays affiliate based on “quality clicks” as opposed to commission per sale or per sign up, it seems there is some break down in communication from eBay to Squidoo as to how the new payout structure will be tracked and paid to Squidoo, so Squidoo could then in turn pay the respective lensmaster.

In short – all those eBay modules on Squidoo are earning nothing for anyone but for eBay.

From what I understand, Squidoo is not being paid because no one from eBay will take the time to work out an agreement and a process for tracking the clicks from each lens that hosts eBay earning modules.

Considering eBay announced this new Quality Click Pricing structure on August 19th, and it’s now the beginning of November, am I crazy to think that eBay could care less about Squidoo and the traffic they bring to the eBay site?

If it was me, and I had an affiliate with the earnings power of Squidoo, I do believe I’d be paying a bit more attention to the situation and trying to come to some sort of plan for the future – even if it’s just to say, “Sorry, Squidoo, we can’t do it – we don’t know how to track these earnings for you”.

But THEN what would happen? Yup, lensmasters (like me) would be dumping those eBay modules off their lenses like crazy and switching to Amazon (who, by the way, is still more than happy to have the traffic and sales from Squidoo).

What Squidoo Has To Say About eBay

Last we lensmasters heard officially from Squidoo HQ regarding eBay earning modules was on October 8th:

With eBay’s recent announcement of their Quality Click Pricing plan come some good questions from lensmasters who love (and profit from) our eBay module, and a good dose of patience while we wait for some fixes from eBay.

The short of it is that eBay is changing the way they pay partners, even big and trusted ones like Squidoo. And as they implement some of their changes, other things break. That explains why you’re not seeing the daily eBay stats for your lenses right now, and we’re confident eBay will fix it for us very soon.

Once we know more from eBay about how their QCP plan will work for us, we’ll share it with you right away!

However, that was almost a month ago. Meanwhile, some great lensmasters who relied on their nice income from Squidoo eBay modules are now earning exactly $0.00. I have a funny feeling that Squidoo.com is missing that revenue, too!

From my perspective and from all I have read, this is NOT Squidoo’s fault. They can’t do anything about this without eBay – who apparently is not communicating with Squidoo on this matter.

Poor Gil, the lone ranger programmer from Squidoo (I still have NO clue when he sleeps – or IF he sleeps) has said in the SquidU forum:

On 10-19-2009

I promise that we’ll post an update as soon as we hear back from eBay. We’ve done everything we can to escalate the issue.

and on 10-20-2009

Yes we were aware of the quality click pricing change before it happened and attempted to make pre-emptive adjustments, but with no data or reporting tools how do you propose we do that?

I know you just WANT THIS FIXED (i do too!) but it’s not so simple. There isn’t an obvious solution other than pooling eBay revenue. Now I don’t like that option and I’m sure you probably don’t either, so that’s why we’re hoping eBay provides new tools for us soon.

Just hang in there and we’ll keep pushing together. OK?

Poor guy, he’s catching a bunch of slack about all this when there is absolutely nothing he can do without eBay’s participation.

Yes, Squidoo HQ could keep us more up-to-date on this matter, but what is there to say other than “Still No News From eBay”?

In the meantime, eBay gets the traffic, eBay gets the commissions (and saves paying for the clicks) – Squidoo gets nothing and our lensmasters get nothing.

Will Lensmasters Get “Back Pay” From eBay?

All this brings about the next logical question – When/IF eBay gets their super affiliate Squidoo all squared away and operational again, what about the lost earnings from when we were NON-operational? Will Squidoo and it’s lensmasters get paid for those clicks?

Who knows?

Its scary to think that a mega-company like eBay who has known for Lord only knows HOW long that they would be changing the payout structure to affiliates didn’t factor in and proactively prepare for their Super Affiliates like Squidoo.com. If it’s taken all this time to even begin to try and figure out how to track Squidoo’s eBay affiliate activity from that day forward, how in the world can we feel confident that eBay will ALSO figure out how to track activity that already happened?

Sad thing is, we lensmasters can SEE all the clickouts from our lenses to the eBay site. And now, with this new Quality Click Pricing, each click is worth money. It’s no longer sales-based… we are supposed to be paid by the click.

Yes, we can SEE that we are losing money…. just great, huh?

When I think of just the lensmasters that had Halloween-based lenses that promoted relevant eBay products, and all the money that the lensmasters lost during that time (but eBay still earned), it makes me sad for those folks.

And now… here comes Christmas… so now what?

Should We Dump All Our Ebay Modules?

Another good question is if should we dump all our eBay modules and replace them with Amazon earning modules? Hey, while it might not be the best solution, at least Amazon pays Squidoo. With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, I’d rather promote a company that will pay Squidoo than promote one that won’t even work with us.



But here’s the thing…..

Once upon a time, wayyyyyy back in 2007, I was an eBay affiliate thru Commission Junction. All was good. Then, in Spring 2008, eBay announced that they were going to a new in-house affiliate program (ePN) and that we’d all have to reapply AND change out ALLLLLLL our eBay affiliate links to fit the new Partner Network links.

That was NO FUN – but we did it.

Then, in August 2009, eBay announces this new Quality Click Pricing structure (that is vague at best). Along with that announcement comes the new terms which prohibit eBay affiliates from using their own affiliate link on web properties that they do not own. That meant, in a nutshell, get alllllllllllllll your eBay links OFF Squidoo, and Blogger….. and no more eBay earnings on HubPages.

So off we all go AGAIN…. changing or removing our own personal eBay affiliate links from Squidoo (or at least the ones we can remember are out there. Many lensmasters, like myself, have been working on Squidoo since 2007…and that is a LOT of lenses and eBay affiliate links out there).

Again, NO FUN – but I, like the others, did it and changed our Squidoo eBay links to reflect Squidoo’s affiliate account so we would be within the terms of service of ePN…oh, and so we would get paid.

Now I’m not some super affiliate for eBay. I send a couple thousand clicks their way each month….a couple hundred bucks in earnings…nothing to get excited about. But at Squidoo, we have lensmasters who were (operative word: WERE) making really good money via their eBay modules.

Now they are making nothing. POOF, gone. While I am a little frustrated, I can only imagine how frustrated the bigger eBay earners are…. and how it hurts to have that income source just disappear. I feel for them…. big time.

What’s The Squidoo/eBay Solution?

I have no idea what the solution is here. EBay’s new payout structure is based on “quality clicks” per campaign.

Confused? Trust me, you are NOT the only one.

October was my first month being paid out under this new structure and I think I’m slowly “getting it”. eBay wants it’s affiliates to click eBay ads that are exactly what the consumer is looking for so that they take an on-site action (ie, make a bid, buy it now, sign up for eBay, etc) right away. I managed to get my per click payout up to .31 for a few days last month – but I also had days when I made .04 per click.

As I said before, this new per click pricing structure is vague at best – but that is a story for another day. Or, just travel the eBay affiliates forum and you’ll see how confusing it is for everyone.

Regardless, I am not a programmer (and if I was, I’d break the internet, no doubt), so I don’t know the technical side of all this and how to solve it. I know what my eBay affiliate reports look like now and I wonder why each lensmaster can’t be it’s own ePN “campaign” – however I barely know my ABC’s from PHP =)

But, I am a person who knows that there are fellow Squidoo lensmasters that have worked really hard, played by all the rules, and they aren’t getting credit for clicks they have earned. There are real people out there that are not being credited for income they have earned – and that is a real problem in my book.

I’m not even worried about my own clicks. Heck, I might not even HAVE an account any more after this post goes live…. eBay might give me the axe!

I’d like to know that eBay is on top of this. That this situation is pressing for eBay and they are putting their heads together with Squidoo to work this out for the affiliates that have worked so hard for them both. They deserve it.

Above all, I’d love for poor Gil to be able to have an answer – even a SOLUTION – so we can move past this and get back to our holiday marketing for eBay.

If anyone knows anything I don’t, or I’ve mis-stated something, please let me know.

*** EDIT – INFO UPDATE ***

Thank you to TheFluffanutta for bringing an important Squidoo HQ announcement to my attention regarding the situation with eBay. Since info is always all over the place, it’s easy to miss updates, but in this particular case I am bopping myself in the head. This announcement was found in the Official SquidTeam Announcements thread – yeah, like totally where I shoulda looked in the first place. Duh, Jen!

This information comes from Megan Casey in this SquidU thread. To be sure that everyone reads it, I will copy/paste it here (hope that’s ok, Megan).

Gil already addressed this in this thread about eBay reporting, and I posted about it on the SquidBlog too. But I want to be extra clear since we’ve been hearing from lensmasters with some incorrect assumptions.

Here’s everything we know:

Beginning October 1, 2009 eBay has switched from paying out a commission based on sales to a commission based on “quality clicks” (their own system, not ours). We requested in advance of this change that eBay provide detailed reports to us, so that we can direct those quality click commissions directly to the lensmasters who generated them. We still have not gotten those reports. If eBay cannot provide this level of detail, Squidoo will distribute eBay earnings based on a pool system in much the same way we do with Adsense and Infolinks earnings.

So to put it another way:

* Yes, you will still make money from the eBay module.
* No, it’s not true that “you won’t get paid for your eBay sales.”
* But yes, it IS true that we’re not getting _any_ reporting from eBay right now, so the eBay stats on your royalty pages aren’t updating properly.
* No, we’re not sure if eBay will allow us to continue paying “directly attributable” royalties, sale by sale, directly to the lens and the person who generated them. It might be that we have to pool all eBay earnings and figure out a system to disburse royalties to participating lensmasters.
* No, this eBay reporting problem has nothing to do with the quality of Squidoo lenses or our community, and Squidoo is not being singled out by eBay. This has everything to do with eBay trying to roll out a new payment system in an unfortunately unclear fashion.

I understand that a lot of lensmasters are worried about eBay’s new payout structure, and concerned that we don’t have answers yet. We are too. But we’re pushing on this every day with them, and as soon as we know specific answers, we will share them with you.

Thanks for your forbearance.

So, the issue is a reporting communication break-down between ePN and Squidoo BUT earnings to the Squidoo site as a whole are still be recording. Only thing left to figure out is whether these earnings will be paid out via a “pool” earnings like AdSense is, or if they will be paid to the respective lensmaster.

I’ll let you know what I find out.

As for HubPages

Seems I was wrong there, too (thank you, Cat). Apparently you CAN use your personal eBay affiliate links on HubPages. I’ve been collecting info and tips for doing this and will have a follow up post up shortly.

Thanks all!

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14 Comments

  1. charlino November 3, 2009
  2. Cat November 3, 2009
  3. thefluffanutta November 3, 2009
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