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What is an eBay Affiliate?

As you probably know, eBay Inc. is a long-standing e-commerce company that brings together buyers and sellers from around the world. They’re well-known for their auction-style sales model.

But did you know eBay.com sells millions of products at set prices? That was news to me too.

So, to help promote their slew of products, an eBay affiliate program was launched in 2008 — eBay Partner Network (EPN).

A publisher can be anyone who has an audience they can promote products to online. (There are a few restrictions, but we’ll get to those in a bit.)

If you have a blog, a website, an email list, a social media channel such as Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram, or Twitter — you, too, can be a publisher.

ebay partner network

Crash Course in the eBay Affiliate Program

ebay partner network login

To get started, it's worth talking about how the eBay affiliate program works in the first place. To get started with your affiliate marketing, sign up on eBay's Partner Network site. After that, you'll receive a suite of tools to advertise for eBay. Once your ads are up and running, you can track your progress and revenue through the affiliate analytics tools provided to you upon signup.

Basically, you get paid between 50 cents and a dollar when a reactivated user (one who hasn't made a purchase on eBay in over 12 months) clicks through one of your ads and begins bidding on products. There used to be base pay for new users, but that compensation system has been dismantled. You earn additional funds whenever transactions are completed thanks to your click-throughs.

Simple, right?

Maybe not.

Late last year, October 1, to be exact, eBay made a drastic change in the way its referral data is collected. You see, cookies (small pieces of data sent from websites to be stored in user's browsers) are used to determine which sales on eBay came from where.

It used to be that these cookies would remain active from an affiliate referral for up to seven days, the same amount of time many of eBay's auctions last. Since October 1, however, these cookies only last for a paltry 24 hours.

And because most savvy online bidders don't bid until near the end of the auction, to avoid inflating the item price unnecessarily, many affiliates are no longer receiving credit for the bids that were brought in directly due to their marketing efforts.

As you might imagine, this policy change hasn't gone over all that well. Take a look at the comment section in that last link to discover just how badly people are hurting from the restructuring.

eBay Affiliate Program Commission

Every time your traffic converts into ‘Buy it Now’ purchases or ‘Winning bid’ auctions, you receive a commission.

eBay has category-level commission rates ranging from 50% to 70%. The categories with the highest 70% commission are ‘’Parts & Accessories‘’ and ‘’Fashion’’.

ebay partner network forum

eBay also gives you a 100% bonus if the purchase is made by a new or reactivated eBay buyer. A reactivated buyer is someone who hasn’t purchased from eBay in the prior 12 months.

You can withdraw your earnings once you have earned at least $10. As a method of payment, you can choose between direct deposit (available in 11 countries only) or PayPal.

How to Make Money with the Program


The short referral period is a bummer, but the program still has high earning potential. Commission rates from 50% to 70% are quite high and cannot be found in many affiliate programs.

If you want to be successful with the eBay affiliate program, you should avoid promoting products that are on an auction lasting more than 24 hours. If the auction takes longer, people will wait to bid until the last moment and thus you will earn nothing because the purchase will not be made within the 24-hour referral period.

I would personally avoid promoting auction-style listings on eBay altogether and just focus on promoting products with the ‘’Buy it Now‘’ buttons.

ebay partner network

When you promote the ‘’Buy it Now‘’ products, you should still take the short referral period into account and select products that you want to promote strategically.

You should select products for which the purchasing process doesn’t usually take very long. For instance, I would not promote laptops as I know it takes people quite a long time to decide which laptop is the best choice. If you write reviews about laptops, it’s very likely that a visitor to your website, after reading your article, will still go and search either for more information about the product or for other alternatives. The more expensive the product is, the longer the purchasing process will be and the fewer chances you have that your visitor will convert into a buyer within the 24 hours.

I am not saying that you should focus on the cheapest products, of course, as you would not earn much commission. In my opinion, finding products in mid-price ranges are your best bet. Also try to promote products that don’t have that many variations or alternatives as this prolongs the purchasing process.

Final Summation

Unfortunately, the eBay affiliate program doesn't seem like it's a viable option any longer. The fact that auctions are lasting longer than the affiliate's referral cookies, and that bidders won't usually bid until the end of an auction, is a real buzz kill. It basically guarantees that any auction that lasts over 24 hours won't result in any money for the affiliate who promotes it.

This is especially disappointing when you consider the fact that these affiliates are the ones increasing the prices by driving the bids. Without the additional traffic, those prices stay low, and the affiliates get no reward for their trouble.

One wouldn't think it would be such a problem, when more than half of eBay's listings are “buy it now”; however, more than half of eBay's annual revenue still comes from auctions. So the numbers don't really reflect the traditional listing's efficacy for the affiliates.

It's strange when one considers how popular Amazon's affiliate program is, and it also keeps a strict 24-hour cookie policy. The difference there is that Amazon is an actual online retailer, and not just a marketplace. There's no timed auctions, and the range of products available is even greater than that of eBay.

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