I recommend to read all the posts and comments and also check the hundreds of posts at the ABestWeb Marketing Forum and of course the source of all this trouble, CJ’s email announcement of their Link Management Initative (you do require a CJ Advertiser or Publisher Account for access).
It will get really ugly, if CJ is going to disable referrer tracking for a link that was created for one purpose, but is being used for a different one by the publisher.
Here is a real-live Example of the problems. Our Shopping Portal Site is a perfect example of all the things that are not going to work or at least not going to work well/better than existing Text or Banner Ads.
We have pretty much all of our content in a Database (MS SQL Server) and a custom CMS solution to update our Website content. The content is displayed on our Websites, but it is also being syndicated via RSS feeds, and pepped up by Feedburner.
Ever heart about Syndication and Aggregation?
If you are familiar with Feedburner, you will know that their “Smart feeds” can be used in a lot of different ways. They can be browsed like a website, imported into Blog/RSS Directories and Search Engines and of course being aggregated by all kinds of readers and services such as Feedblitz.com which aggregates RSS feeds and sends the aggregated content conveniently via email to their customers. We use the professional cobranding feature of Feedblitz for our Email Deals Alerts Feature Now add Google Co-Op to the mix to make the biggest organic and PPC search engine part of the dilemma.
When it gets aggregated by Feedblitz, Newsgator or similar RSS via Email Services the Email Link should be used because the user is clicking from his email client. There is virtually no difference to any other email newsletter you would send to the user, if he would be one of your opt-in email newsletter subscriber.
When used for Blog/RSS Search engines or special Services like Google Personalized an Google Co-Op, the Search Engine Link must be used, especially for Google Co-Op which behaves just like PPC ad’s with the difference that the User subscribed to your content and wants to get your Ads/Content displayed for matching keywords.
Unless CJ develops a self reconfiguring link or link morph system that changes form, structure and content depending on its current use. The whole Web 2.0 thing seems to be something that stopped for CJ at AJAX, ignoring the fact that everything is working on breaking down the barriers between the different content delivery methods and technologies to give the user the personal choice to get the content he wants, when he wants it and in the format/way he wants it. This is totally conflicting CJ’s approach with their JS Links.
I wrote in detail what other ramification this change would have for our Website, ignoring RSS Feeds, Blogs, XML etc. In short, to make it work for us, a complete re-write of our CMS System, Public Site, Tracking and Reporting would be required. The partial recreation of all our content would also be necessary. Everything we built during the last 5 1/2 years would be affected, except our “new” Blogger Blog.
Are you ready for “CJ Analytics”?
I still have a strange feeling, when I think about the data Google collects, but Google is at least much less likely to take advantage of the data and use it against us or boot us out of a lucrative business by adapting our secret tricks and techniques.
I am not so sure about that when it comes to CJ. What is tracked? Who has access to the Data. With Google analytics are we at least getting some very comprehensive statistics and analytics tools in exchange for the access to the data. I don’t think that CJ will make SEO and SEM and Funnel, Goals, Drop out and Conversion data which I am sure CJ will collect to a certain extend freely available to the publisher. You probably also remember the issue from earlier this year, when CJ Employees with access to sensible and very profitable publisher information and data turned affiliate and left the network. And they had only access to the very limited amount of data available back then. With the JS Code on publisher sites will CJ be able to see and know and track everything as good or even better than the Website owner himself.
History tends to repeat itself
That is the right approach. I have still some memories of CJ’s change of their product linking and redesign the CJ Marketplace (Product Catalog) at the end of 2002. I made some very detailed comments as along with a lot of other affiliates and merchants which were for the most part very unhappy with CJ’s change.
CJ moved forward and ignored most of the feedback which was very specific and not just generic bitching and yelling. CJ’s decision resulted for us in the removal of any CJ Product Links from our sites for about 3 years, until we had the necessary hardware to kick around several gigabyte of text data at ones and developed a complete CJ Feed watching, analyzing, pre-processing and updating system.
I have the feeling that CJ will move forward as planned and will start to prepare us as much as possible. This includes looking for CJ Merchant Programs at other Networks, such as Performics which seems to be favored by a lot of merchants. I see a lot that have a program at both networks. It used to be the other way around. We always replaced any other network or even in-house program with CJ’s, if it was available. There are only a few exceptions to this rule.
This will push a lot of publishers out of CJ and look somewhere else, but I am sure that it will also attract different types of new Affiliates to CJ. I would not be surprised if some contextual Advertisers that use AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network and similar services today will take notices and might check it out.
Hard to tell if this will be better for CJ in the future or not. I am sure that CJ was thinking about the Data feed Affiliates and will probably launch officially their new Web service for Products.
It will become a feasible replacement option for some types of Data feed affiliates, but certainly not for all. Brook Shaaf and Nate Griffin read my “scrap” about all that stuff via email. I think I need to expedite my content processing and put it at least as “scrap” on my Website, the same way as I did it for the Merchant Datafeeds for Affiliates 101 Scrap. I am sure, that Web services will become mainstream topic probably later this year, but latest beginning of next year.
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