I had been an affiliate of DoubleClick Performics for awhile, and last year they were purchased by google. Now it’s called ConnectCommerce, or the Google Affiliate Program. It’s similar to Commission Junction, LinkShare, ShareASale, and the other large affiliate houses. The thing about Google Affiliate program is that because it’s so big – they not only have tons of merchants, but they have some of most well known ones, like Sears, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, and bunches more.

Once you own multiple blogs and sites in various niches you find yourself looking for unique merchants with relevant products you can promote. This usually leads you to sign up for all kinds of programs and affiliate houses to have the most options available at any given time. Believe me, that’s the only reason I belong to every single one of these places. I would love nothing more than to promote only a handful of merchants, but that’s just not realistic. I use Commission Junction for Hostgator and goDaddy, in addition to music product merchants. Google Affiliate is more for my “women’s needs” type merchants (clothing, perfume, etc), LinkShare is for electronics – you get the picture.

I must say that every single one of these affiliate programs has provided ZERO tools to make me more successful, and has done ZILCH to allow me to promote them more. Contacting any one of them through email, support, or their contact form has been time consuming, laborious – and something I even dread. Mainly because I’m never treated like someone that can make them more money – I’m treated like crap (most of the time). If you haven’t had to deal with one of these affiliate houses yet personally – let me tell you about a few of my not so pleasant experiences…

Commission Junction
I had the need to get a data feed from a CJ merchant. I contacted the merchant directly through CJ Support, and 2 days later they emailed back to say that Commission Junction needs to set it up, contact support. I submitted a CJ Support ticket and included all the details for “ftp push”, and 3 days later I got an email back asking for the “login details” to set it up (even though I included them in the initial ticket). I emailed back and 2 days later got an email saying they were “working on it”. About 10 days after that I got email confirmation that the ticket was done, and 24 hours after that I got the first data feed. The data had all kinds of weird characters with accents in it, and I emailed CJ support back about it. 3 days later they emailed back to say that I had to talk to the merchant about this. I emailed the merchant and heard nothing back. After a week I emailed again, and they said they had already replied. They didn’t, so I emailed back again with the concert about the characters in the data, and the merchant program manager said ‘oh -sorry, I gave that to the developer and haven’t heard back yet…’. It’s been 2 more weeks, and I STILL haven’t heard back. I’ve been trying to get a clean working data feed for this one merchant for 6 weeks now I believe?

Google Affiliate Program
I wanted datafeeds from google affiliate for about 12 merchants, so I submitted a ticket to their support as well. A week went by with no answer. So I emailed them everyday for an entire week (with no answer). Then finally I got an email saying that I asked for “a lot of feeds” to be setup (basically saying I should be patient). Another week goes by. I email again their support and get a response back 2 days later “we have a new ticket system and will respond as soon as we can”. 3 days later with no response I email, again, and again, and again for about 10 days. Finally one day I get email confirmation that they feeds are setup. I login my FTP to check them out, and each and every one is truncated (broken, irrepairable, and useless). Every 2 days google affiliate sends me 12 more broken useless files (a new broken version I guess). I have emailed them 6 times regarding this with to date NO RESPONSE (and still broken feeds). The only worse time I’ve had with google was trying to contact Adsense. I think google is the worst of the worst as far as affiliate programs and support goes.

Pepperjam Network
Pepperjam has been the most responsive to my request, usually within 24-48 hours. But my assigned network manager did quit and they forgot to tell me. Once they fixed that I had a question about THEIR datafeeds, because it’s supposed to be so “easy to subscribe” to them once you login. I subscribed for 10 of their data feeds, and aren’t available for download. I emailed my network manager and she said that it was a technical problem “they were aware of and working on…”. 2 days later I emailed back, “still working on it”. 3 days later, “still working on it”, and the following week “still working on it”. Get the picture here? Great at communications, but poor marks for execution.

I may not be the biggest affiliate around, and I definitely feel that there’s a bunch of favoritism amongst the affiliate houses. If I were earning $5-10K per month in commissions I guarantee that my tickets would recieve top priority and 100X quicker turn-around. That’s just not fair. How do they know how big an affiliate I might be in the next month or year? For one merchant, their slow and unresponsive nature regarding a data feed has completely stifled (and just about killed) the launch of one of my brand new sites. These companies are raking in millions of dollars – don’t they understand that by support affiliates more they are investing in something that can only make them more money over time?

Which brings me to another point…why do services like popshops.com and GoldenCAN, NetShops, and others exist? It’s because affiliate houses themselves still REFUSE to invest any money in tools, scripts, or plugins to help affiliates promote merchants better. WTF?! Why should I have to login and find manually links for programs when the technology exists for them to create a WordPress plugin or some JavaScript to get exactly what I need in a tenth the time? Idiot affiliate house – you can’t see the forest for the trees! It’s like you have an incredible opportunity and you are blowing it! Another faster and more nimble company is going to swoop right in and steal your lunch – the same way that iPod’s invaded the world!

Oh, and by the way….if you’re wondering what all this talk about “data feeds” is – just read these posts:

Create an affiliate store in 5 Minutes from a Data Feed
Monetize Search Results with Datafeeds in WordPress