EBay Partner Network-What Works and What Does NOT!

Unless you have been under a rock, you should be familiar with the new payout structure called "Quality Click Pricing" launched by Ebay™ a couple of months ago, around September. Initially, the program drew a lot of flak from EPN users. To be honest even I was not at all happy with the change in my earnings.

You see, I generally used my custom EBay RSS feeds more often than their in-house creatives, mainly because I have never (and still don’t) liked their promotional creatives. It was going all well with their old payout structure. With QCP, I noticed a sharp decline in my earnings, so much so that both EPC and my earnings started hovering around a big ZERO.

Now, my eBay payout was never really that big, but at least I used to earn a decent amount before the launch of QCP. So when that earning avenue seemed to be lost, I was a bit disappointed with eBay and for once thought to do away with all the eBay links on my website! Reading around the different forums and blogs however, I got a fair idea of what eBay wants from their affiliates.

Adsense vs. EBay – CPC vs. CPA=> If you put old wine in a new bottle and give it a new name, it DOES NOT become new. EBay’s "Quality Click pricing" is basically a CPA model with a difference, as explained below!

Some of the things I am going to tell you here have helped shoot up my EPC and earnings considerably, that too, within just a few days of change! Just consider what would happen after 2 months or say, 6 months from now! Unless EBay comes up with yet another change in the meantime, I think my current strategy would make me some decent dollars!

So what is this Quality Click pricing anyway? If you are familiar with Adsense™ (CPC) where you are paid per click, well, with EBay, you can say you are paid on a CPA basis-that is, cost per action! In a way, it is a CPC-cum-CPA-cum-affiliate program!

To give you an example of how eBay pays you:

Let us say that a visitor, Renee, visits my site. She clicks on my eBay ad, but is not too impressed with what she finds at the ebay store(would not blame her considering the amount of junk eBay has ;) ), and backs out. Will I get paid for that click? No.

Now say, a second visitor, Angela, clicks on my eBay ad, and bids on something, but buys it after a couple of days. Will I get paid for that click or sale? No.

Now say, yet another visitor, Susan, clicks on my eBay ad AND buys an item on the same day. Will I get paid for that sale? Yes!

So, basically, you are not actually paid per click, but per action, in this case, a same-day sale. I am not too familiar with how eBay registrations work so cannot comment on them. In fact, I would believe that almost 70% of the eBay network is unknown to me, and I would like to leave it at that! I don’t have any interest in exploring eBay, except for maybe, niche research! :D

Have you ever played the game of darts? Well, at present eBay’s affiliate program is a game of dart actually! With each and every visitor, you need to hit the bull’s eye – that is, that visitor MUST buy some stuff from your eBay affiliate link in order for you to get paid! No sale, no earnings, period!

Nothing wrong with that setup. In fact, it is how most affiliate programs work – you don’t make money unless you make the product owner money. However, while with the regular affiliate programs you are already aware of how much you are going to be paid per sale, eBay does not reveal that to you. They are free to pay you what they want, based on the source of traffic, the bid, the sale, and a host of other algo best known to them! BTW, in this connection this good old forum post might make a helpful read for you!

Some people say that eBay’s current affiliate model is similar to Adsense where you don’t know how much you would you get paid. However, I think comparing eBay and Adsense is like comparing apples with oranges. Adsense is basically a CPC program-you get paid per click, though there is more to it, as not every click will make you money! Generally I have found that the higher your website’s CTR is (over a time period) the more you get paid. How would you gain high CTR? Well, the fewer page views and more clicks you have, the higher your average CTR would be!

Example: 1: If you have 1000 visitors per day but only 10 of them click on your Adsense ads, your CTR might be very low. However, if about 500 of them click on the ads, then you might have higher CTR (and thus, higher earnings).

Example 2: Similarly, if your website gets 1 click per 3-4 page views, that is okay. But getting 1 click with 20 or more page views may not be okay.

Of course, I am not Google so this is pretty much based on my experience and Adsense earnings data. The real algo, well, is known only to Google! Adsense also takes into account the source and quality of your site traffic when calculating your earnings; that means – clicks generated from bots/paid to surf traffic exchanges/services offering
"guaranteed visitors" are a strict no-no! : D  

EBay also takes the quality of traffic into account when calculating your EPC. But it goes beyond that; ebay also takes into account whether clicks coming from your site generated any sales or no, as I already mentioned above!

There is another similarity between EBay and Adsense. If you have a lot of low-performing sites, your accounts’ overall EPC (CTR in case of Adsense) would be low. Hence, it pays to regularly monitor your sites’ performance in terms of traffic/conversions and either try to optimize the low-performing sites (if possible) or dump them altogether. You should setup unique Campaigns in your EPN account (channels in case of Adsense) so as to track the performance of each website!

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I will give credit where credit is due. Initially when I was confused about how to make money with their new QCP (aggravated by all the moaning and negative posts I read at forums at that time), it was actually Mark’s (of BANS fame) blog post that gave me a solid direction. I suggest you read it as soon as you can!
The tools that work for me: Per eBay’s blog post, you should use "geo targeted" links for maximum revenue. Why? They say that a UK-based visitor is less likely to pay in USD than GBP, and vice versa. Maybe they are right, because ever since I have started implementing "geo targeted" links my EPC (and earnings) has shot up! In fact, it was probably because my eBay RSS feeds were not geo targeted  that they did not generate as much revenue for me as the "geo-targeted" links I created using their link generator tool. To give you an idea, the average earnings of one of my sites has been hovering around $0.28-$1.12 for months. After implementing the "geo-targeting", it has jumped to about $3.36 within just a couple of days! :D

Now, IF you do implement geo targeting, you need to apply to AND get approved for all the four eBay programs: viz. ebay,ca,, and (eBay is not as lenient as Amazon™ when it comes to affiliate approval). If you are not approved in all the four programs then geo targeting won’t make money for you. For example, if your affiliate links point to a store and a UK-based visitor is redirected to the store, you won’t be credited for the sale IF you are not already approved for EBay UK program! Another thing to keep in mind is that as soon as you are approved  all the four eBay programs, you MUST regenerate the affiliate links codes!

If you are already an eBay affiliate, just go to to apply for the other programs.

Good news is that you would be declined right way for several programs – in fact, my applications for eBay IE, eBay AT, eBay FR, and eBay DE were all very coolly and instantly declined with a very valid reason: " We are sorry but we cannot admit you at this time." Anyway, the effort was just for fun, as I am already active in all the four master eBay programs! :D

If you are not an eBay affiliate, you can go here to join:

Some say that with the new affiliate payout structure of Ebay, Adsense is more profitable. That maybe true (in fact I earn more with Adsense on a few sites than I do with eBay on a greater number of sites) but my #1 grudge against Adsense is (and has always been) that it does allow the ad links to be opened in a new window so that the visitor does not leave your site with 1 click . :(

Right now, if you wish to send people to a specific search result with a geo-targeted link, you need to use either the link generator tool or the creative generator-both provided by ebay; other tools, such  as widgets, RSS feeds, eBay editor kit, and custom banners, etc.,  are NOT geo targeted by default; you would need to use a third party tool to help you with that (please do verify this from eBay directly as things may change in future)!

Right now I am too busy to mess with any other tool so I am using only their link generator tool to generate text links. Believe it or not, those plain text links are working far better than my RSS feeds!

I am not using their creatives generator though. EBay offers you two types of creatives: image and flash banners. The image banners are far from impressive IMO. The flash banners look great, but when I added them to my site, they slowed down the page load time terribly (esp. in IE), so much so that I felt like closing the browser window. :p

Not good. On an average a visitor is not going to wait for more than 20 seconds for a page to load, unless you happen to be some big shot guy, that is! I tested it with IE mainly because on an average almost 40-45% of my site visitors happen to be IE users, while around 32-36% use Firefox! With Firefox the page loaded a bit better, but that is mainly because of the different way FF loads webpages.  I also confirmed my page load time from (btw, if you want to know the reason behind your slow website, check as well)  The addition of the flash banners (only 2 on each page, I think), increased the page load time to around 73 seconds! Once I removed the flash banners the pages started loading normally. I have to say, I really felt bad about removing the flash banners because they look so cool! ;)  

Anyway, one thing I learned from my eBay experience is that the good old text links CAN attract buyers if a proper "call to action" is used in the link text! Remember that you are offered a box  where you can define your own custom link text for the eBay ad, so make the best use of it! :D

So in short, here is how I generate my text links using the link generator.

1. First, log on to your eBay partner account, then click on "Tools=>Link Generator". This should take you to

2. Choose "EBay" as advertiser

3. Choose "Search Results" as link type
4. Enter your niche keyword. AVOID entering broad topics such as "weight loss"; instead try to narrow down to long tail keywords such as "teen weight loss". Just an example! You can read a lot about optimization at this guest blog post anyway! ;)

5. Click on "Advanced options", then choose "Items Ending First" as sorting criteria. Since with the new QCP model, the visitor must buy within a 24-hour period in order for you to get credited for that sale, BIN (Buy it now) offers usually convert best! However, not all niches have quality BIN offers.

For example, in the "collectibles" niche, you would find more auctions than BIN offers. For auctions, the "items ending first" criteria convert best! In fact, if you choose that sorting criteria for your link, and if your niche happens to have a lot of BIN offers, they would automatically show up at the top (meaning, MORE $$$ for you) ;)

If you wish to exclude certain keywords form the search criteria, you can also enter them there! For example, perhaps you want the visitor to buy a computer mouse but don’t want him to get distracted with lots of irrelevant ads on how to kill those pesky rodents with the latest and greatest repellants! :D

6. Choose to geo target. You will get a warning message that geo targeting for search results is available to US, UK, Canada and UK only! Click "Yes".

7. Select a default program. I usually select EBay US as default, unless the site happens to cater specifically to one of the other countries supported by geo-targeting. If you choose to geo-target your links and the buyer happens to be from one of the four countries, he would be redirected to the respective store! In case geo targeting is not available for a country, the buyer’s would be sent to the default store you specify here (in my case, he would be directed to the store).

8. Enter your campaign ID. If you have not already done so, create a UNIQUE campaign for your site and give it a descriptive name! I usually enter "This campaign is for" as campaign description, but you can enter anything you like.

9. Entering a unique custom ID is useful if you have more than one eBay ad common to a campaign. By assigning a unique custom ID to your ads, you can gauge the performance of all the ads belonging to a particular campaign! :)

10. Link action: Select "Open a link in a new window when checked"

11. Link text. Here you should enter your call to action. Don’t just enter a lame "click here to visit my eBay affiliate store" text here! Instead, enter something really creative that would make the visitor click! :D

Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Like, my Warrior Forum signature for Nuttiezine reads "The Worst Internet Marketing newsletter" ;) Not suggesting that you use that, but sometimes negative publicity really works! ;)

Click to generate your link text.

Note that the link is actually JavaScript-based generated (unless you choose NOT to geo-targeting); however visitors who have JavaScript disabled (if online stats are to be believed, almost 90% of internet users have JavaScript enabled anyway-not taking into account the percentage of people using mobile/old browsers) would see only a text-link and be sent to the default ebay store!

Last tip. Just like with any good old ad, I put my ebay links on top of my website, ABOVE THE FOLD! You can always put the links in other parts of your website, but if you wish to give prominence to a particular ad, the top fold of your webpage should be occupied by it!  You would get more clicks and sales if you don’t make people scroll down!

Hope it helps. Btw, if it helps, please leave a nice comment below! ;)


  1. Angela

    This is a most interesting article, Arindam. I haven’t ever done much with Ebay but have thought about it in the past. You have given solid, actionable information that I can use and I appreciate it. :)

    1. Arindam

      Wow Angel, nice to see ya after a loong time! :)
      Yeah, even I have not purchased anything from ebay. I do most of my shopping from Amazon, as you know! ;)

  2. Roy Miller

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention in more detail. As an ebay partner it helps to understand how the system works to best advantage.

  3. Philip

    Arindam, thanks for the informative post. I will be changing my sites according to your suggestions.

    Do you know if it is possible to use your 11-step geo target setup for a banner I create instead of using a text link?

    If so, where would the image source file need to be in the javascript code? AN example perhaps.


  4. Arindam


    Not sure. Probably possible if you know your way around JavaScript. EBay does provide geo-targeted image banners though (click on the “Creatives generator” to find a list of banners), but as I said, they are far from impressive in my eyes. Their flash banners are great but they would terribly slow down your page load time, resulting in lost visitors (and lost revenue). Text links are what I am using right now, with good results. If you do want to use your custom banners/widgets, you need to make sure that the eBay affiliate link is not messed up and perhaps, you may also need to use a third party tool to geo target the banners/widgets. They have some suggestions on their blog, so feel free to check those resources for ideas! :)

    Don’t forget to check the forums regularly. If you could skip past the whiners out there, you would get some solid advice:

    I think I forgot to mention that I am NOT putting only ebay links on any of my sites. Depending on the niche, some of my sites have a clickbank+amazon+ebay combination, others have a ebay+adsense combo, or ebay+cj combo. It is not a requirement, but who does not want more $$$$! ;)

  5. Chandan


    Great informative tips on getting some more $$$$. Could you give some tips on Click Bank add? Does it convert well? I did not try it still but thinking to give it a try.

    Looking forward to read some informative post about Google Caffeine as you write really nice post on SEO :-)

  6. Alan

    Any ideas on how to get accepted to ebay. I have tried multiple times with multiple domains, one is even a great authority site, but still got denied. Have tried all sorts of ways in improve my application, but it just seems to be hit or miss and in my case always a miss.

    1. Arindam

      Hi Alan,

      Yes, a lot of ppl’s applications get denied, and worse, a lot of ppl’s epn accounts get shut down, all for no valid reason. Sad to say, but ebay and paypal think they can do what they want and not be accountable to anyone for their actions.

      The best you can do is to go to the epn forum (see link above) and ask for advice. Even I don’t know why they reject or close accounts, so am unable to offer any advice :(

  7. Luggage for sale

    Is it possible (and legal) to generate affiliate links for specific eBay auctions?

  8. Arindam


    Possible? Yes. You can already check a number of plugins and softwares available for that specific job. Go to Google ;)

    Legal? I am not sure. When I used RSS feeds they were not created from a third party tool but I never had any issue with them UNTIL their QCP policy. Most important thing to remember is that regardless of whatever creative you use, they MUST BE GEO-TARGETED and should list items/auctions ENDING FIRST!


  9. Terrence H

    Glad to come by your site to read about Ebay today. Yesterday I had great difficulty in knowing how to join Ebay as an affiliate? Your Ebay Article has alot of information to point me in the right direction. I thought I was somewhat clear on what Ebay was about but when I made attempt to join, things got more fuzzy. Appreciate you taking the time to write your informattive article to help confused persons such as myself. Thanks for helping. I think your info. will point me in the right direction.

  10. Brian Stone

    Wow, there’s some really good stuff there. I haven’t quite read it all yet, but got several good ideas brewin’ from what I have.

    I need to go signup for their affiliate program again. I joined back when they switched over from CJ, but never used it much and they canceled my account. Hopefully, I can get approved again with a different email. B)>