affiliate : Java Glossary

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affiliate
Many companies offer you a financial incentive to put links to their website on your web pages. You may get money:
  1. Just for having the link.
  2. For displaying a banner ad on your site.
  3. For displaying a slowly changing banner ad on your site.
  4. For displaying an animated banner ad on your site.
  5. For displaying annoying large banner ads on your site.
  6. For displaying highly annoying popup banner ads on your site. I consider these really tacky.
  7. When people click through to the commercial site.
  8. When the people buy something at that site.

Most commonly you don’t get any money unless they buy something. Usually there are restrictions on you website. For example, many companies don’t want their banners associated with sex.

Affiliate Vocabulary Markup
How It Works Roll Your Own
Affiliates Roedy Green Endorses Costs
Affiliate Service Bureaus Learning More
Becoming an Affiliate Scam
Disadvantages The Bottom Line
Speed Up Page Load Links
Advertising Your Own Company’s Products

Affiliate Vocabulary

advertiser
cj.com and Google Affiliate Network use this term to mean the manufacturer of some product, the one who accepts money from customers, the merchant, or software publisher, the publisher of the software or books. Confusingly, the advertiser is not the website that places referral ads for the product. The terminology makes utterly no sense The advertiser places no ads. As far as I can see, they have it backwards. I asked them to pick less confusing terminology but they ignored me.
affiliate partner
When I agree to sell vendors’ products via my website, I am called the affiliate sometimes called an associate or partner. eSellerate uses the term affiliate.
affiliate manager
A proposed database software run by the affiliate to help manage the links in his websites to sell products and collect royalties.
affiliate service bureau
The company that tracks the hits and sales on behalf of the vendor, companies like LinkShare and CCbill.
associate
See affiliate
click-thru
When a visitor to your site clicks on an ad banner but does not necessarily buy anything. Sometimes you get revenue for clicks, e.g. with Google Ad Sense, and but usually you only get royalties for actual sales. These are sometimes called leads.
creative URL
A URL that generates an image or some text, or a search box that the viewer can click to learn more about or buy some product.
EPC
EPC (Earnings Per Click). How much money you get when visitors click an ad, whether they buy something or not.
deep linking
An affiliate link to any page or product, usually constructed by computer from a part number, rather than linking via an ad prepared by the vendor. Some bookstores do not let you deep link by ISBN to an arbitrary book. You have to find the number of a corresponding ad to one of the books they are promoting which is hideously impractical.
impression
Every time a visitor views a page containing an ad, even if he does not click it, that is called an impression. The service bureau tracks this by displaying a one pixel gif, even for text links. It counts how many times this gif is downloaded. When a search engine spider goes looking for page it does not download the gifs, therefore it avoid making false impressions. It does however make click-thrus. If the affiliate service bureau sees a click-through without a corresponding download of the impression gif, it assumes it was just a spider and the click-thru does not count as an actual sales lead. This is why you need impression gifs in your html if you are being paid per impression, per click-thru, not per sale. Some programs offer you the option of getting a commission per impression, per click-thru or per-sale. You have to choose just one. I found that per click generates most revenue. EPC . I think this refers to the seller’s profits, not the advertiser’s fee.
inline text link
a word in the text that when you hover the cursor over it pops up a text box ad relevant to that word. Clicksor does this sort of ad. The advantage is it takes up no space most of the time. The disadvantage is it is distracting to the user trying to read the text. It is somewhat dishonest since it confuses links with ads.
publisher
cj.com and Google Affiliate Network uses the to mean someone who puts ads on their side to refer sales to someone else. I can’t think of any way to make sense of the terminology. People who place ads are in no sense publishers. I asked them to pick less confusing terminology but they ignored me. Others use it for the reverse, the merchant, or software publisher, whose products I sell on my website, the publisher of the software or books. eSellerate uses the term for someone who publishes software.
reseller
Someone who resells products. The customer pays the reseller and the reseller buys product at wholesale. With an affiliate, the customer gives no money to the affiliate, but pays the publisher directly. The advantage of being a reseller is you can set your own markup and price and can thus create a competitive advantage over other sellers. The disadvantage is you have to handle money and tracking sales. You also have to provide all the product descriptions on your own website. If you link to ones on some other website, the sale will likely go through that website. Normally you would sign up as a reseller only for an expensive or high volume product. I have signed up as a reseller for Excelsior JET Java Optimising Compiler.
self optimising link
A link that examines the text of the surrounding page and information it knows about the visitor, and composes a custom banner on the fly with what the computer thinks the visitor would find most appealing.
SKU
SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). A specific product. If a program came in several languages, standard and pro, electronic and CD delivery, each combination would have its own SKU number. SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) is what eSellerate calls its product ids.
tracking URL
A URL that takes you to a page where you can get more detail about a product and/or buy it.
vendor
The merchant whose products I sell on my website, sometimes confusingly called by the client.
virtual store
As an affiliate, you select a set of the vendor’s products to display on your website. You may do this via:
  • A large chunk of generated inline HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) you insert on your web page. This is how art.com works.
  • Via a short chunk of HTML containing an iframe. The vendor generates your virtual store on the fly each time someone views your webpage. To the end user, the store appears embedded in one of your web pages. This is how allposters.com works.
  • Via a text or banner link to the vendor’s website.
tidget
An ad that interacts in some way with the user. It would typically have some JavaScipt or HTML5 (Hypertext Markup Language version 5) application backing it.

How It Works

To be eligible for the benefits, you must sign up as an affiliate, sometimes called an associate with a service bureau who manages the affiliate program for the merchant. Large companies like Amazon manage their own affiliate programs. You also must put some complex HTML on your web pages to enable them to track where the traffic came from. It works usually with some combination of JavaScript, cookies and CGI. This means visitors to your site must have cookies and JavaScript enabled for you to get your commissions.

Here is some typical HTML to link to an advertiser’s website:

Here is what visitors to your website will see:

View larger image at art.com
Synchroncity

Don’t be shy. Click the image or the buy button to see how it works. You can always back out.

The service bureau tracks hits aka impressions (viewings of the banner), click-thrus to the merchant site, and sales. The commissions can be based on any combination of all three, usually just sales. However, the service bureau usually tracks all three for the edification of merchant and affiliate. They often use a dummy 1 × 1 image loaded from the service bureau website for tracking hits. These can drastically slow down web page loading, so I suggest removing them. If you do, you will still get commissions for click-thrus and sales, but not for simple impressions.

Affiliates Roedy Green Endorses

I have registered with as an affiliate with the following companies, all of which I was happy to endorse. I would have done it free. This is an incomplete list.
Most Important Affiliate Programs on this Website
Company Logo Revenue
Google AdSense
about $700.00 USD a year
outpersonals.com Outpersonals.com about $360.00 USD a year. This baffles me. OutPersonals is a free gay personals listing service. I don’t know how they get the money to pay affiliates. It stop generating revenue entirely. I don’t know why.
Amazon.com Amazon logo about $300.00 USD a year.
SexToyFun.com Sextoysex.com logo about  $100.00 USD a year.
art.com Visit Art.com about $25.00 USD a year.

Affiliate Service Bureaus

If you want to find out about affiliate programs to add to your website ask the merchant or company you want to advertise, or check with one of the following affiliate service bureaus that handle thousands of companies in a very organised and automated way. bCentral/ClickTrade went out of business in 2001-09.
LinkShare Linkshare affiliate aka linksynergy.com. The LinkShare people have the best organised affiliate program in my opinion. It is by far the easiest for affiliates to use. It has no mechanism to consolidate duplicate accounts. Bafflingly, they call people who place affiliate ads on their websites publishers, and people who actually manufacture and sell the goods advertisers. This is exactly backwards to what you might expect. You have to get permission from each vendor before you can sell their products. If you don’t produce they revoke that permission. Here is what a typical link looks like this: They handle Hallmark, match.com, 1-800-Flowers. Affiliates like Barnes & Noble, or Tiger Direct don’t officially have a way to like to a specific project given its ISBN (International Standard Book Number) or part number. However, if you examine a number of links, you can see the pattern. For example you can like to a specific product on TigerDirrect.ca like this: Some vendors offer deep linking that let you create a link to any web page on the vendor site. The main thing wrong with LinkShare is banner serving is spotty. Starting about 2013-03-01 it often stops working for no reason. It works one minute, then stops then works the next without apparent pattern. I now serve LinkShare banners locally to get around this problem. Also banners are dropped entirely without notification. Their banner server ad.linkserver.com is flaky and keeps disappearing from DNS (Domain Name Service). I get around this by downloading the banners and serving them off my own website.
   
RegNow buy via RegNow They handle collecting money for a 16% fee, with a $2.00 minimum. You thus need no merchant accounts with the credit card companies. Part of Digital River. It is primarily designed to sell software. You compose PAD files, an XML-format to describe your products and the pricing. They can handle licence branding and serving demo copies. The advantage of RegNow over PayPal to sell your software is RegNow affiliates will post links to your products on their websites in return for a commission on sales. Here is what a typical link looks like:
<a href=http://www.regnow.com/softsell/nph-softsell.cgi?item=1234-1&affiliate=45478> <span class=button>buy</span></a>
handles Panda Antivirus, Canadian Mind Products.
   
CCbill logo More focused on the credit card billing side. Much of its business comes from porn sites. Here is what a typical link looks like:
<a href=http://refer.ccbill.com/cgi-bin/clicks.cgi?CA=904142-0000&PA=60124&BAN=4>
<img src=http://www.platinumromance.com/advert/platinum300x250.gif border=0></a>
Handles Platinum Romance
   
BMT Micro logo You have to manually patch in the AID (your account number) in the generated HTML. Here is what a typical link looks like:
<a href=https://secure.bmtmicro.com/ShoppingCart/00310/buy-opera.html?AID=XXXXXX>
<img src=http://promote.opera.com/banners/opera/windows/ow-get-00-en-ban.gif alt=[Buy Opera!] width=468 height=60></a>
   
ClixGalore ClixGalore logo It looks easier than most to set up from the merchant’s perspective. Australian. Somewhat confusing for the affiliate since merchant features abound on all menus. You must get approval from vendors before you can link to them. Here is what a typical link looks like:
<a href=http://www.clixgalore.com/Lead.aspx?BID=15761&AfID=6045&AdID=2561>
<img src=http://www.is1.clixgalore.com/cgd.aspx?BID=15761&AfID=6045&AdID=2561 border=0 height=60 width=468></a>
   
Clicksor Clicksor Logo Clicksor is a similar system to Google AdSense, where you put a generic ad on your website that turns into a specific ad from some advertiser, roughly matched to your web content perhaps looking like this:
The big problem with them is they insert pop-under ads, linking words on your page outside the ads to ads, which is downright dishonest, not to mention highly irritating to your viewers.
   
cj.com Commission Junction logo disappeared for a while, but have resurfaced. aka Commission Junction. The affiliate domains bfree.com, bfast.com, qksrv.net, cj.com, commissionjunction.com and reporting.net and Partner Gateway were all bought up by ValueClick and now operate under the name cj.com.

The HTML you insert is quite terse. It consists of a single number that internally indexes the vendor, the affiliate, the product, the banner and the target URL (Uniform Resource Locator). Here is what a typical link looks like:

<a href=http://clickserve.cc-dt.com/link/click?lid=41000000009080611>
<img src=http://clickserve.cc-dt.com/link/banner?lid=41000000009080611 border=0 alt=Chapters.Indigo.Ca></a>
In CJ (Commission Junction) terminology advertisers are merchants who actually accept money for goods and ship them, in other words the creators of the products, where publishers publish links on their websites to refer sales of those products. This is backwards to what you might expect where publishers are the creators of the software advertised. They handle Chapters Indigo. They now have an optional house scheme where the URL names the vendor’s website instead of theirs. They sometimes confusingly refer to the vendors as your clients.
   
eSellerate Esellerate logo Part of the Digital River ConnectCommerce family.
  • You can make three kinds of link.
    1. buy link
    2. hosted: download a trial version hosted on the eSellerate server
    3. download: dowload a customised trial version hosted on an eSellerate affiliate server.
  • It lets you customise the links in various way, and the HTML you embed instantly updates.
  • The support staff are unusually friendly and responsive.
   
Inuvo Inuvo logo Also known as Kolimo, My Affiliate, MyAP, Think Partnership and Kowabunga. These are different software/subsidiaries. I found its software unusually easy to use. Its website is much more responsive than the others. You run your own custom version of their software on your own servers.
  1. Think Partnership is the parent company, stock symbol: THK.
  2. Kowabunga Technologies Kowabunga is the company that built the MYAP software. It provides the MYAP software to merchants to allow them to run their own affiliate programs. Along with the MYAP software, they place these merchants in our Kolimbo network. They also offer affiliate management services.
  3. My Affiliate Program aka MYAP is the name of the actual software for use in running an affiliate program. It is what we would integrate with your website and ordering system in order to allow you to run your own affiliate program. There are about 600-700 merchants using the MYAP software. These merchants include some smaller sites, as well as very large clients like MGM/Mirage, Microsoft, Yahoo!, CNET, Carfax and QuickBooks. There is an initial setup fee of $2495.00 USD for the software, and a monthly fee equal to 30% of affiliate commissions earned or $500.00 USD (whichever is greater). Included with the setup fee is having the Kowabunga team do all of the integration for the merchant, as well as branding the admin area to their company. Once the software is set up and tested, Kowabunga launch the merchant’s program on the Kolimbo network of over 50,000 active affiliates.
  4. Kolimbo is the affiliate network. By using the My Affiliate Program (MYAP) software to run your affiliate program, you will be listed as a merchant within the network of over 50,000 affiliates. The affiliates can then sign up to join your program from your listing in the network, or through a signup page.
   
Share-It Share-It logo Seems to be a subsidiary of Digital-River/Element 5. I have not been able to log into it yet to learn more about how it works.
Of course many companies don’t use a service bureau. They run their own affiliate program, perhaps using someone else’s software. See theHubPeople.com

Becoming an Affiliate

To become an affiliate, to sell other people’s goods and services, you will have to do the following:
  1. Register with the affiliate service bureau giving your name, address, company, tax number, phone number, where to send the cheques, who to make them out to etc. You must assign yourself a user id and password. Make doubly sure you get the address right. If cheques are undeliverable they will not inform you.
  2. In past I found each service bureau works best with only one browser, though recently I have had much less trouble of that sort. If you have troubles, try a different browser.
  3. Select the merchants whose products you want to advertise. It is just a matter of looking through the huge catalog of merchants and ticking off the ones you like. The service bureaus have search engines, alphabetical lists and lists by category to help you find suitable companies.
  4. The merchants you select will have a look over your website, and will decide if they are willing to let you advertise them. You can track whether they have said yes in the service bureau database.
  5. When you have been approved by a merchant, cut and paste the HTML they provide onto your web pages.
  6. The HTML is inscrutable. You can’t tell just by looking at it what product it sells or easily even which service bureau provided it. It is good to insert into your web page a comment naming the product, service bureau, and the date the html code was last refreshed. I am gradually adding
    <span class=affiliate>…</span>
    around all such links to make them easier to find with Funduc search and replace for update or special formatting.
  7. I usually modify the HTML slightly to pick up the graphics from my webserver instead of theirs to speed up page loading.
  8. Check in periodically to the service bureau website to see how much money is they owe you. They won’t actually send you a cheque until it reaches a threshold.
  9. Keep your eye out for new affiliate programs that mesh logically with your website.
  10. Look in your mailbox for a cheque.
Before you sign up as an affiliate at a website, check if that vendor is already handled by one of the affiliate schemes you are already signed up with. Otherwise, you will end up with duplicate accounts with the affiliate scheme. Only the Reporting.net people, now defunct, offered a way to consolidate them.

Disadvantages

Speed Up Page Load

One the big disadvantages of having ads on your page is they slow down page load. Here are some things you can try to speed it up:

Advertising Your Own Company’s Products

Becoming an advertiser is somewhat more complicated. You must prepare a set of *.png, *.gif or *.jpg banner ads. You must decide on how your royalty scheme will work, how much you will pay for what. You have to decide who will handle what money. You may have to put up a deposit to pay out royalties. Basically it amounts to filling out a number of online forms. Once you have done that, you need to beat the bushes to ask people to sign up as affiliates. Which service bureau should you pick? Consider these factors:

You have to assign all your products a category ID. The HTML at the affiliate site can insert additional detailed information, e.g. ISBN, size, colour… and the service bureau will just pass those fields on through to you without examining them. That way you can set up search boxes, or put huge inventories instantly online without registering all your individual products with the service bureau. However, the category ID usually has to be sufficient to calculate the commission paid to the affiliate. It also has to be sufficient to compute the price if the service bureau handles payments for you.

There is a cheaper way to become an advertiser, banner trading. You put up a variable banner on your site that randomly selects other companies to advertise. In return, those companies will advertise your website. The problem with this approach is you have little control over who you advertise on who advertises you.

Markup

The follow is aimed at the technical staff of vendor companies that have affiliates, particularly Google. In general vendors make you include huge amounts of complicated JavaScript and HTML to display/sell a product. The problems with doing this include:

The goal should be to make the markup as terse as possible, containing only data that are variable. There should not even be need to build in an affiliate id. That can be gleaned from the host name, or the referrer. I think the simplest technique is to use <iframes with parameter data encoded in the URL in the standard GET fashion. There is no way affiliate can bugger than up, and the vendor is completely free to modify the content. The <iframe is unlikely to interfere with anything the affiliate does elsewhere on the page. Further it will work whether the end user has a dysfunctional or missing JavaScript

Roll Your Own

If you already sell your product via your website, and have already set up a custom system to accept orders, and process money, it is not much extra work to roll your own affiliate program. This is what myfonts.com does. It can be as simple as this: You look at the referrer URL of all incoming transactions. If one of them belongs to one of your affiliates, you tag the incoming IP (Internet Protocol) as belonging to that affiliate. Any orders that IP makes in the next 20 days (or whatever limit you choose) give a cut to that affiliate. This is very convenient for the affiliate since there is no special HTML . They can link anywhere they please into your website with any type of transaction they please. The processing of payments to affiliates can be tacked on as a batch process run monthly. It does not need to affect online processing in the least, though of course your affiliates would prefer timely balances.

That scheme relies on the browser to provide the referring URL, a feature which some people disable for privacy. To deal with that eventuality, have your affiliates add a parameter &affid=xxxx to all their URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) referencing your site. Your server has to capture these affiliate ids and the corresponding IP whenever it serves a web page.

Costs

If you sell or buy, the affiliate service bureau is taking a cut charged to the seller. I thought you would like to see the prices on this webpage in  CurrCon Applet needs Java 1.7 or later to display prices in your local currency. , but you can change that instantly, thanks to the Canadian Mind Products CurrCon Applet that you too could use on your own website to display prices in any world currency using today’s exchange rates.

So you might set up to use more than one bureau or so that everything over $15.00 USD will be done with RegSoft and everything under $15.00 USD will be done with RegNow.

Canadian Mind Products Banners
Banner HTMLTo Include The Banner
The Java Glossary
The Java Glossary
<a href="http://mindprod.com/jgloss/jgloss.html"><img src="http://mindprod.com/image/logo/cmpbannerj.png" height="60" style="width:468px" alt="The Java Glossary"></a>
The Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary
The Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary
<a href="http://mindprod.com/bgloss/bgloss.html"><img src="http://mindprod.com/image/logo/cmpbannerb.png" height="60" style="width:468px" alt="The Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary"></a>
The Gay and Black Glossary
The Gay and Black Glossary
<a href="http://mindprod.com/ggloss/ggloss.html"><img src="http://mindprod.com/image/logo/cmpbannerg.png" height="60" style="width:468px" alt="The Gay and Black Glossary"></a>

They worked very well, doubling my traffic for the time they were placed, however the traffic dropped off back to normal after they stopped. This implies the banners were attracting people who were idly curious, not people who would become regular visitors. This highlights the problem with banner advertising. It does not target your specific audience.

You could download the *.png image to your own site and modify the HTML accordingly. If you leave it as it is, my site will bear the burden of downloading. You will also automatically get any improved *.gif I post. That may or may not be a Good Thing™. You might not like my new *.gif.

Amazon

If you sign up specially for the right to use the Amazon APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) you will be overwhelmed with details, which Amazon admits almost nobody uses and which they are gradually withdrawing, I think, because they offered too many options. One simple technique is you can send ordinary http: GET request that include a digital signature field. Amazon sends you back an XML-formatted response to your query. These are easier to parse than raw HTML.

More Disadvantages

If you set up an affiliate program, exploiters will sign up just to get a discount on their own purchase, that they would have made anyway, then never be heard of again. Even if an affiliate make an honest effort to bring you some sales, but does not succeed, it is still going to cost you something to carry him. So you have to decide which applicants are likely to be profitable. I personally have received a number of rejection letters from affiliate programs. They are often worded in an impolite way that implies there is something malodorous or substandard about my site without specifying the problem. Just tell the truth, It costs us to carry you as an affiliate, and it looks as though there won’t likely be enough sales to justify that. Thank you so much for applying. Perhaps in future that could change. or give the reason We like to avoid the political controversy that defines your site. We don’t want to make it look as if we are taking sides. If you are rude, you turn a potential booster to a detractor.

Learning More

Click through to the service bureaus mentioned. They have extensive online documentation on how their schemes work. They also have help desks who actually answer email. Amazing!

Scam

Most affiliate links never generate a penny in revenue, even after years. I ordered $300 worth of equipment for myself from Tiger.ca through LinkShare through one of my affiliate links. No record of the sale showed up. I wrote both Tiger and LinkShare twice and they just ignored me. I suspect the industry norm is only to pay royalties to those generating substantial sales. In contrast, Amazon, Google and SexToys all pay.

The Bottom Line

None of the many affiliates I signed up for paid anything except three. I can speculate on why affiliates don’t usually pay: Affiliates quietly drop you if don’t logon every month or so to keep your email address and links up to date. They will also drop you if you don’t generate any sales. They drop products, drop vendors, break links, retire link code, change link code, totally change the software or go out of business all without telling you. It is particularly important to keep your address up to date so cheques arrive and your email address up to date so that notices arrive. Put your affiliates in a bookmark folder and make a habit to just login and check things out every month or two.

Affiliates often refuse my site because of the Gay glossary, or links in it to condom sales sites. Some vendors such as McAfee are quite puritanical wanting to offend in the slightest not even the most rabid Christian. At some point I will split off the Java section as a separate website to avoid this and the problem of various net nanny programs that block the mindprod.com site in its entirety.


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