Where Did All The Good Affiliate Programs Go?

Recently my good friend Jim Kukral made a video expressing his concern and annoyance with affiliate networks on the "BIG" networks, such as Commission Junction and Linkshare. Jim wanted to promote an offer through BestBuy, which is run through Commission Junction. Unfortunately CJ likes to automatically delete accounts once they go inactive for a couple months. The happened to Jim’s account, so he had to make a new one. Once signing up again, he had to apply to the BestBuy affiliate program and had to wait four days to get a response back… and the response was, "your application was not approved".

I can relate to how Jim feels and I have experienced the same thing several times over. I have not used Commission Junction or Linkshare for nearly three years now because I hate the way their networks are setup. Back when I first was starting out running my own affiliate programs, I had several merchant accounts on CJ and one master affiliate account. Through CJ I had paid out several hundreds of thousands over the course of around two years. In addition to paying out a ton in commissions, I was also earning a ton too. My affiliate account had earnings in the six figure range… but apparently that didn’t matter to CJ. Once I stopped using that affiliate account for a few months, it was deactivated. I contacted CJ and they told me to create a new account. So what about all my data and awesome stats!?.. they didn’t care, it was now lost.

Several years later and I have experienced the same thing multiple times. I find a new offer that is through CJ that I want to check out, then I post a few links here and there, then log in a few months later and my account is deactivated again. I think my latest account with them is my fifth.

So last night I was setting up my new office room and it has a lot of furniture in it from Bombay Company. I decided to check out the site and saw they have an affiliate program, through LinkShare. I really wanted to join the program since I would promote the offer and also buy some furniture through the site as well. It’s been a while since I logged into my LinkShare account, but it was nice to see they didn’t delete my account like CJ does. I logged in, found the offer and and applied. I also added ZacJohnson.com as a new site to my profile, thinking any affiliate program would obviously see my site and how it says "Super Affiliate" and would easily accept the application.

This morning I received a response from Bombay Company’s affiliate manager, and (not) to my surprise, they have denied my account, stating my web site was one of the following: Inability to access Web site, Web site not yet live, Traffic levels too low, Inappropriate material on site. I assume they did find relevant content, as none of the above apply. It’s a shame to have affiliate management in place that would deny a site which states it’s a "Super Affiliate", and has a previous post showing $10k in earnings with another network.

In Jim’s video he talked about how he just wanted to go to BestBuy and other large companies directly. I completely agree, but unfortunately most site and companies do not have the management or knowledge to do so… so they pay too much and outsource to larger networks and miss out on possible opportunities to work with big players like Jim and myself, just because they don’t know better, or provide better and more personal support. The moral of this is posting is that no matter how big or small your branding name or company is, you can always improve your affiliate management and support. As for other large affiliate networks out there, I’m sure deleting accounts saves you some costs on data storage, but deleting accounts of big earning affiliates is just ridiculous. I’ve been in this game long enough to understand how things should be run and so many companies out there are way under par.

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  1. I got contacted by a vendor that wanted me to sign up through their Affiliate program on ShareaSale. So far I've been happy with it.

  2. I've recently been hearing a lot of issues with CJ. I'm lucky that I haven't had any problems yet and I've been using them for a few years…but then again I'm only actively promoting one merchant through them.

  3. It's almost as if the big networks make so much money from just a handful of big players that they neglect the real affiliates. I'm not sure who is more at fault, the networks or the managers that manage the programs.

    To deny you Zac, who is a super-affiliate and in the big time circle of earners, is TOTALLY insane, totally. Any manager should have your name up on a list in their office of people they should be courting daily. Craziness. Just plain old nuts.

    I'm saddened to see it wasn't just me who was having the same issues, and I'm a small fish compared to you, I can almost get over my experience, but yours… no way, just nuts.

  4. I'm currently on my 4th account with CJ. I rarely use them, mostly because I've been focusing my time promoting digital products, and I'm certainly not what most people would consider a big fish in the affiliate circles, but to deny someone who has documented proof of earnings that are clearly stated on his site, is just downright foolish.

    It makes me wonder sometimes just who is running the affiliate programs at some of these companies.

    A couple of months back I was promoting a site of mine that was clearly promoting iPods, had decent traffic, and was making money. I wanted to add a few affiliate links to different mp3 music providers and was denied by every one I tried to join.

    I guess the people in charge of affiliates at those companies just didn't want to make money.


  5. So far with CJ, i have been denied for some major companies, but after a month of so, i reapplied and everything seems smooth sailing..i don;t know whether it happens to you guys or not.

  6. Well said Zac, talking about CJ , I better log in before they delete my account, any status on the books you were reading ?

    Play online games

  7. I tried signing up for linkshare just to see what it was like, but got so annoyed with their lousy layout and confusing singup that I just stopped.

  8. As far as Jim's experience with Best Buy, some other affiliates had problems at first too, I got in just fine. But if you just email them back, you're likely to get in. Remember this is also a program run internally by CJ, not the smoothest running.

    As far as Bombay and Linkshare, you would want to apply to a merchant with the site you plan on promoting them on. You're more likely to get accepted if the site looks like a good fit. There's no shortage of good affiliate programs in all the networks and no shortage of good indys.

  9. I can't say that all of the blame should land on the networks, since merchant account managers can make some mistakes as well, but I think with the % commission that networks take from their merchants, they should be able to step it up a bit.

    From a merchant perspective, we are given very little information about publishers and are forced to identify the good publishers from the bad using the cookie cutter descriptions we get (at least from CJ). It would be really nice if publishers were allowed some space to describe their business and what they plan to do so affiliate managers had more to go off of. I'm sure it wouldn't cost CJ too much to add something like this and it could greatly improve both the merchant and publisher experience.

    Also on the CJ side, the level of spam has gone way up over the last few months…I'd bet 50% of my applications are Blogspot spam blogs…which is really a waste of time and could be easily filtered by network quality IMO. It also makes everyone else look suspect, and it has really decreased the number of publishers we are presently accepting since we can't often tell the good guys from the bad. Of course, if you are declined and send me an email, you will usually get reconsidered and accepted.

    There really isn't much of an excuse for not accepting Super Affiliates though…unless you have some marketing methods listed that are not acceptable to an advertiser.

    Hopefully the networks are reading posts like these and trying to find solutions to our frustrations…if not, everyone will be looking to join in-house affiliate programs and avoid networks.

  10. Yea, CJ is awful, and I've not had my account go inactive, but I've had one account accused of doing bad things, filed for a manual review, etc.. it found to be compliant, but account still locked. their solution: get a new account. Lost all stats as you did, but I've been doing well for several months now, and after messing with me for a while, have finally decided I am ok 😉

  11. I too have had many issues with CJ in the past..

    I was in a nice status there then my account got closed.

    Similar to yours they told me to open a new account where i was limited to join a few affiliate programs due to my unpopular new account!

  12. I had signed up cj quite long ago but got so annoyed with their lousy layout.Too many items that confusing

    I tried signing up for linkshare but was rejected.

  13. "stating my web site was one of the following: Inability to access Web site, Web site not yet live, Traffic levels too low, Inappropriate material on site"

    How annoying. I guess it's their loss though!

  14. I have just begun getting heavily into the aff marketplace. My new site (click on my name) is a niche site that caters to a very particular class of video game players. I tried going the AdSense way at first but you can’t make a living off of penny clicks.

    I signed up with CJ and Linkshare and I have started rotating aff banners on my site. The banners are getting clicks but no sales yet. I will be reviewing the programs to see which ones have the best CTR and replacing those that fail.

    One thing has come up though. Should I keep going the aff route or would I be better served selling sponsor spots and letting others run aff ads on my site? If I sell spots I can assure myself of a minimum income stream but I will forever be wondering if I am short-changing myself!

  15. I hate Linkshare. The format of their site is bad and not very useful. I really like Commission Junction as I find their site pretty easy to use (sure they could change a few things). I have experienced the same thing on both though. I am starting a new startup that should be very profitable (maybe $20,000 a month or more in commissions) and it has been very hard trying to get affiliate managers to approve my site. I realize that the site isn't done yet but I need to be in their programs to be able to finish the site. Another problem is that many of the affiliate programs have no email (how am I supposed to contact them?). And if I contact through the merchant the email usually goes to some customer service person that hardly knows the company has an affiliate program. I would think that CJ would require affiliate managers to have their email on the site so that prospective affiliates can contact them. I think the main problem is affiliate managers because even when I can get their emails half the time they never write back. You would think that they would want as many good affiliates as possible.

  16. "I’ve recently been hearing a lot of issues with CJ. I’m lucky that I haven’t had any problems yet and I’ve been using them for a few years…but then again I’m only actively promoting one merchant through them."

    They're been good with me, I've been enjoying them.

    good read though, I e-mailed this to several friends.

  17. I recently started promoting an affiliate thru clickback, they pay 50% of the order total, which equates to $25 per sale. Conversion rate is excellent, I am pulling at least $100 – $150 a day from it. You can find out more about it here.

  18. I've pretty much given up with CJ. Their interface and layout is just attrocious, and i keep getting rejected by best buy even though i have a portfolio of 20 very successfull sites which would make a lot of sales for them.

    Its their loss anyway. I now use amazons affiliate program and have a accrued 5 figures worth of sales for them, so its not my loss, its CJ's and Best Buys.

  19. Hate CJ, In my opinion find something that needs to be sold, that isnt open to the entire internet world to get a hold of. Find a company that you beleive in and that you like their product. DOnt use cj =)
    My recent post CNA Training in South Dakota

  20. My experience was also not very good with CJ. When I first started with Commission Junction I was making good money everyday until one day, they told me that I was not going by TOS. Which was not true at all. In fact it seems like they think that I work for them but I work for my customers and I own my own business. Is there something just like CJ out there that I can jump right in to and start making money? I would really appreciate your help on this.
    My recent post CNA Training Programs in Oregon

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