Are you ready for ” CJ Analytics”?

Categories: Internet Marketing
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Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: May 26, 2006

I didn’t see the simple kept email from Commission Junction which was sent on Tuesday night at first. It looked not important in the bulk of emails in my Inbox on Wednesday morning. I saw the announcement first at thread watch. The Threadwatch Post refers to Jeff Molander’s view on the topic and to Scott’s Jangro’s Blog Post which was very good in pointing out some of the major issues with CJ’s idea. I decided to leave a long comment there and showed even more problems with CJ’s plan to replace regular URL links with AdSense-Like or Google Analytics-Like JavaScript code. This post does repeat some of my comments, but from a slight different perspective. I also refer to statements made there a couple times without repeating them here.

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).

The Plan
The CJ JavaScript Ad’s can not be used in all cases. The option to get a different URL for email and another for PPC Advertising and another for product feeds is not going to work in all real-world scenarios either
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 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.

Based on CJ’s definition would I require at least 3 different links for the same content. JavaScript Links for our Website, the Feedburner Feed “Site” and Web based RSS Readers such as Google Reader, Bloglines or My Yahoo!.

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 am also not sure, if I want to have interactive AJAX powered JavaScript Code from CJ on virtually all pages of my Website. CJ would get full control and complete access to everything that makes our Website a Website. I am not sure, if I am willing to entrust CJ all this highly sensible data. It is the same problem as with Google Analytics, which we are using today.

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.

Dynamic JavaScript Ads are nice and a valuable ADD-ON to the existing linking methods currently provided to the publishers. Unless CJ Changed their business model to become a Blog Ads or Google AdSense or TextLinkAds, JS Link will not be able to replace a lot of the existing URL Text Links.

Look at Linkshares DRM and Be-Free’s dynamic Ads ( has good examples). There you can see very good and useful examples of using JavaScript for specific types of Ads which would not be possible using the classic technologies. We use those DRM’s and Dynamic Ads on our Site for some very specific purposes where they do a better job than Image Ads, Text Ads or Text Links.

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.

Uncertain Future
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.

Closing Words
I hope to be proven wrong, and CJ will change their plans to make the use of JavaScript Link Code optional and continues to provide classic URL Text Links and Images; seriously, but I hoped that to happen in the past too and was unfortunately never proven wrong so far. This post is long enough now. Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts about this.

  1. TheHoff says:

    Brilliant summary. I also run sites that rely on all three methods of traffic generation and the links are generated from a database. Nothing that CJ can say in their podcast or FAQ can make javascript links better for sites like ours.

  2. Thank you. The Question is, if CJ tries to rid themselves from site like ours by doing JS links the only valid type of website link. Btw.

    Datafeed Links will not be affected.

    When it comes to the site links itself we might use a different approach.

    We might make all links EMail links and block the referrer in our tracking and redirect script. The content can after all end up as email from an RSS Aggregator Service.

    Looking for Merchants at other Networks is another thing you should do, just in case. I found a bunch at Performics.

    No Matter the case, we need to get started as soon as we know the exact details. I am still hoping, that CJ will make some revisions to their Linking policy.

    They caused quite a stir with their announcement last week.

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