A good affiliate is always looking for new ways to monetize their traffic.
Because having a diverse range of affiliate programs available to you means you avoid having all your financial eggs in one basket.
While Amazon is the affiliate program of choice for many new affiliates, they’re not the only game in town when it comes to e-commerce platforms featuring millions of products.
eBay is another big player in that game.
But you rarely see mainstream affiliates or “guru” types mentioning it.
Is that because the eBay Partner Program is shit…or are they keeping the good stuff for themselves?
Let’s find out with our in-depth eBay affiliate program review.
Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, probably had no idea where his idea for AuctionWeb.com would eventually take him.
Oh yeah, eBay was known as Auction Web for the first two years of its life, only rebranding in 1997.
And by that stage, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods were being sold on his platform each year.
eBay then went from strength to strength, acquiring many of its competitors.
They even managed to emerge from the Dotcom bust stronger than ever, before promptly acquiring PayPal.
As of right now, eBay has 25 million active sellers and 175 million active buyers.
This is what their growth curve for just the last decade looks like:
So, combined with 1.3 billion active listings and 432k sales each day, eBay is a legit success story in the e-commerce space.
It’s grown to become so much more than just an auction site.
What Products Can You Promote?
What started out as an online garage sale has become one of the world’s most popular online shopping destinations.
That’s because eBay sellers no longer only use the website for selling stuff they no longer want.
It’s now home to a vast selection of both new and used products, including thousands of sellers working the drop-ship business model with Chinese products.
In fact, somewhere around 80% of all items now sold on eBay are brand new.
But it’s also a great place for those really niche items you’ll never find anywhere else.
Need a Graflex camera handle to build your own replica lightsaber?
eBay has you covered.
Vintage Japanese furniture that nobody except you and twelve other people on Earth actually understands?
That’s no problem.
All told, eBay has over 300 categories that shoppers can choose from – covering everything from automotive hand tools to wigs.
You name it, it’s there.
But surely there’s some way of finding out which product categories are the most profitable.
After all, what potential eBay affiliate has time to sort through 300 categories to find something to build a niche site around?
So, the top-selling category on eBay – bar none – is…drum roll…”Electronics & Accessories.”
This isn’t quite what I expected to find, but it also kinda makes sense considering the first item ever sold on eBay was a busted laser pointer.
The most popular products within the ‘Electronics’ category are:
- Digital Cameras
So there are no real surprises there – these are consumer favorites.
But what other product categories and sub-categories perform well enough for an eBay affiliate to pay attention to them?
|Baby formula||Industrial face masks||Beads|
|Scrapbooking supplies||Hair accessories||T-shirts|
|Hats||Perfume and cologne||Hair loss treatments|
|Power tools||Water filters||Necklaces|
|Wristwatches||Musical equipment||Pet supplies|
|Golf club||Movie action figures||Travel luggage and accessories|
|Video games||Cotton sheets||Seeds|
That’s not to say that you can’t make money with the eBay Partner Network promoting items from other categories.
You’re just as likely to make money in a specialty niche e.g. vintage clothing.
That kind of stuff does really well on their platform.
It’s just that the above provides the average affiliate marketer with the path of least resistance when it comes to making money.
How does the eBay Partner Network work?
Firstly it appears to be an in-house affiliate program.
You also have to sign up for their program using an existing eBay account, so make sure you have one.
The signup process for their affiliate program takes literally two minutes – they ask for the bare minimum of information.
This is a breath of fresh air in the affiliate marketing industry – one where some program managers stop short of asking for a DNA sample before processing your application.
The eBay Partner Network approval process is also very, very prompt.
My test application was approved in less than 24 hours, although this one was for an established website.
So, all things being equal, there’s no time-wasting on their part.
An in-house affiliate program also means a custom affiliate dashboard:
But before we get into any of that we need to talk about two important items:
- Buy It Now vs. Auction
eBay’s affiliate program offers a 24-hour cookie – it used to be several days, but not anymore.
Which leads us neatly onto how that works with ‘Buy it Now’ vs. auction items.
For ‘Buy it Now’ items the referral must purchase the item within 24 hours of clicking on your affiliate link.
That’s pretty typical of most affiliate programs with short attribution periods.
Auctions are a little different though – the winning bid for the item must take place within 24 hours of your affiliate referral click.
So that means you could get paid for an auction that ends 10 days later, so long as your affiliate click lands within that 24-hour window.
This means you would have to focus on auctions with either a really short duration, or are within 24 hours of ending.
This is entirely doable but very unpredictable.
So focusing on ‘Buy it Now’ items will likely mean fewer headaches for you as an eBay affiliate…and you’re more likely to get the commission you worked for.
The eBay Partner Network does itself proud here – it has a really comprehensive range of affiliate marketing tools.
Bookmarklet – Allows you to create links from any eBay page directly from your browser.
Link Generator – This is your default tool for creating deep links for any page, items, or stores on any eBay website.
Smart Links – You add a code snippet to your site which ensures that every current or future link to eBay is monetized. This tool also generates mobile-specific ads for maximum conversions.
Smart Placements – Create banners that match your visitor’s search intent in real-time. Basically, create your own banners.
Smart Share – This is a Chrome extension that appears to basically do the same job as the Bookmarklet tool, except the affiliate links are ready to share on social media.
Creative Gallery – A list of all existing creatives available on the eBay Partner Network.
So, they provide an eBay Network partner with multiple ways to create pretty much any kind of link they could want.
Plus, you can promote eBay listings or stores anywhere you like – from your own affiliate website to social media channels.
Unlike some other affiliate networks we could mention.
So let’s take a look at how you get paid once you earn money.
The eBay Partner Network operates on a net 30 basis.
Basically, this means if you sell something on August 10th, you’ll get paid for that on September 10th.
In terms of payment options, eBay keeps things pretty simple – you can choose between EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) or PayPal.
There’s a payment threshold of just $10 and their PayPal fees are capped at $20.
eBay is obviously not going to push payment by check as an option what with them owning PayPal.
But it will be interesting to see if and when they cave and offer payouts in cryptos.
Their program also offers a number of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for advanced affiliate marketers to make use of.
You can choose from the following:
- Shopping API
- Finding API
- Merchandising API
- Trading API
- Buy API
The use of any of the above goes beyond the scope of this article though, so be sure to check out eBay’s help document on the subject.
eBay Commission Structure
Remember a while back when we said that eBay has over 300 product categories to work with?
Yeah…there’s a downside to this too – a commission structure that would give an accountant a splitting headache.
So let’s do our best here to break it down to something a bit more manageable for you:
The eBay affiliate program also places a cap on how much you can earn from certain types of sales.
A great example of this is a $100 cap on any real estate sale.
So, even if you sold a $200k house on eBay…you’d get a paltry $100 for facilitating that with your affiliate link.
You’d probably earn more if you offered to stand outside the house wearing a house-shaped costume, screaming “Buy a house!!” at passing cars.
Always check out the eBay rate card so that you know what to expect for your category.
Promoting the wrong category is the quickest way to not earn money here.
The long and short of their commission rates is that you can earn between 1% and 4% on all permissible items sold through your affiliate links.
This places the eBay partnership network in the same ballpark as Amazon’s Associates Program.
And quite possibly prone to as much change.
eBay Affiliate Program Reviews
Now let’s take a look at the underbelly of this program – the stuff that eBay affiliate managers don’t talk about in public.
Here’s a post from a tenured EPN partner who got kicked off the program for no apparent reason.
And another user who is less than happy with the network, but without any context.
But once I scrolled down a bit I found this one:
So, not every eBay affiliate is as pissed off as others are.
In fact, many of their partners seem to love it.
And it’s not just a case of liking the way the program runs – there are also lots of affiliates making pretty decent money with it.
Apparently some of eBay’s top affiliates make at least US$100,000 per year.
The overall sentiment is that the eBay Partner Network was WAY more popular with affiliates when it paid higher commission rates.
The wailing and moaning started the instant their commission rates dropped to Amazon levels.
So there’s absolutely nothing surprising there in terms of how much resentment that would generate.
With that said, the negative feedback is also an indication that the eBay affiliate program is just as flawed as any other.
Weighing it up
So how does the world’s biggest multi-billion dollar flea market look when we take everything into account?
Let’s go over the obvious advantages and disadvantages of eBay’s affiliate program:
- You can attain VIP status if you can drive enough traffic
- No other auction website comes close in terms of brand recognition
- Literally billions of items you can sell via affiliate links
- 80% of all products on eBay are new
- The only real marketplace for those ultra-niche items
- Really nice selection of affiliate tools and creatives
- Intuitive affiliate dashboard
- Very low eBay affiliate payout threshold
- The 24-hour cookie is silly
- Confusing commission structure at times
- Caps on how much you can earn per sale, regardless of sale value
URL: eBay Partner Network
Payment schedule: Net 30
Payment threshold: $10
Cookie duration: 24-hours
So that brings us to the conclusion of our eBay affiliate program review.
In terms of their “partner network”, eBay has done a respectable job.
Their program has a great set of tools, the interface is a dream to work with and reporting is super easy.
Most other affiliate programs and networks could learn a lot from them in this regard.
The EPN makes being an affiliate on eBay as straightforward as possible.
It’s not without fault though.
Like its 24-hour cookie, low commission rates, and affiliate earning caps.
But overall what you have is an interesting alternative to Amazon that’s at least worth testing.
Because that’s the only way to evaluate any affiliate program.
Still not sure what an affiliate program even is?
That’s okay – those new to affiliate marketing typically have more questions than answers.
Which is exactly why we put together a 100% free 2-hour web class for you.
You’ll learn the basics of niche selection, keyword research, and how to get a basic affiliate website online.
And all without paying us a single cent.
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Cool – tell us what email address to send your invite to.
And we’ll see you there.