Publisher News Channel

Shopzilla UK Publisher Program Growing Fast

Our sister affiliate program in the United Kingdom, the Shopzilla UK Publisher Program, has been making some huge gains since launching earlier this year.  They've rolled out dynamic assets, FTP Data Feeds, and have built the 2nd best Shopzilla blog (after this one, of course).

Just as exciting, we recently welcomed two more siblings into the Shopzilla affiliate family: The Shopzilla Publisher Partnerprogramm in Germany and Shopzilla programme d'affiliation publisher in France.  We invite all current or prospective publishers with a presence in either of these markets to apply directly to each program.

Now before you get back to work, be sure to check out this interview conducted by affiliate blogger Murray Newlands with our UK colleague Jason Hall (Senior Director, Search Intelligence for Shopzilla Europe):




FTC Regulates Social Media and Blogs

Hey Publishers,

There was some big news earlier this week!  On Monday, October 5th, the Federal Trade Commission revised its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials.  This was the first time since 1980 the FTC revised its guidelines on these type of advertisements and the first time its rules covered bloggers and social media. Beginning on December 1st, you can be fined up to $11,000 per post that is not properly disclosed!

A main concern of the blogging community is what the FTC considers to be an endorsement.  According to the new guide, any kind of payment given to a blogger to review a product can be labeled as an endorsement.  Also, if the reviewed product was sent to the blogger for free, the blogger must include a disclaimer in the review and/or send the product back because it can also be considered an endorsement.  The FTC feels manufactures have expectations for positive reviews creating conflicts of interest and negatively influencing consumers' purchases.  In an effort to eliminate biased and bogus claims and testimonials (something the FTC has been trying to do since 2007) the FTC aims to make consumers more aware of the relationship between sponsored sellers and bloggers with mandatory disclosures.

So what can stop the FTC from slapping you with a $11,000 fine?  You can read through the 81 page guide or you can go straight to playing it safe and adding disclaimers to your site.  If you are blogging your opinions in exchange for any kind of payment, you must disclose it.  It seems the FTC is heavily regulating blogs and social networks, however, their main focus is on advertisers and maintaining the truth in advertising.  You can expect a much more established set of guidelines in the near future before the rules take effect.

To read more, there was an interesting article within the Huffington Post that clearly breaks out the implications of these regulations in all aspects of social media- from blogs to chat room activity.  You may also want to check out an article from the The Blog of LegalTimes on how the FTC is not out to get you.

Shopzilla Publisher Program Reviews

Reviews

Since joining the affiliate world in early 2007, there have been many reviews written about the Shopzilla Publisher Program. Each author has had their own unique opinion of how the program works, and their own experiences. We took a look into the vault and found this selection of reviews for you to look over!

2007
03/31/2007    blog.affiliatetip.com

05/01/2007    redorbit.com

10/18/2007    ninetynineways.net

11/29/2007    blogohblog.com

2008
02/12/2008    problogger.net

04/11/2008    problogger.net

04/12/2008    the3dtechnologies.com

04/13/2008    joelcomm.com

05/30/2008    problogger.net

07/05/2008    publisherspot.com

08/15/2008    johntp.com    

2009
03/18/2009    va4business.com

04/26/2009    ezinearticles.com

05/30/2009    topbusinessreviews.com

If we missed a review that you have read, or maybe one that you have authored, please feel free to contact us via email or through a comment below. We are always interested in publisher opinions, so if you write a review in the future, let us know where it is so that we can check it out!

Affiliate Tax Update in California

David Lewis at ReveNews has continued his excellent coverage and commentary on the affiliate tax issues threatening the affiliate industry.  We previously discussed his related post on the Shopzilla Publisher Blog.

In his latest article, "Shopzilla as Our White Knight: CPC to replace commissions", Lewis particularly focuses on California bill AB178 and the potential outfall of its passage.

Please head over to ReveNews to check it out!

An Interview with Jeff Jarvis

The Shopzilla Publisher Program had the unexpected pleasure of sitting down with Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? and who blogs BuzzMachine, at the Aspen Ideas Festival to chat about a couple of timely topics related to online media and advertising.
 
We asked Mr. Jarvis to share his perspective on the affiliate sales tax issue. Mr. Jarvis sees both sides of the issue. On one hand, he appreciates that brick & mortar retailers are disadvantaged by having to collect sales tax from customers. On the other hand, he's concerned about public policies that could hamper the growth of e-commerce. Mr. Jarvis went on to reiterate the viewpoint he laid-out in his book; that manufacturers and retailers are likely to operate "showrooms" for products they sell and that those products will likely be shipped to customers, with the exception of when customers have a time-sensitive need to possess them. (I personally would've appreciated having access to a showroom where I could've previewed some furniture that I recently purchased from Pottery Barn.)
 
In Jarvis' book, he maintains that real-estate agents and car salesman don't necessarily reduce transactional friction. So, Shopzilla was also interested in whether he sees Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs) and Retail Aggregators as adding value or acting as middlemen. His view was that if CSEs only extract value from the market, then they're not adding value. Certainly, CSEs add value to online retailers insofar as they qualify buyer leads (clicks) to those retailers and drive sales within their allowable ranges. Shopzilla Publisher is extremely focused on ensuring that we create merchant value by vigilantly monitoring the quality of traffic that originates from our network of affiliates. That leaves us with the question of whether we add value for consumers. Some might maintain that the transparency CSEs create around product prices creates value for consumers. Though, this feature is one that is quickly becoming commoditized by the large number of comparison shopping sites that exist today. It made this writer stop and think about what more CSEs need to do to create consumer value beyond price comparison.
 
Jarvis attended the AIF session at which Eric Schmidt spoke. In his post about the session, Mr. Jarvis noted that someone asked Schmidt about Froogle, to which Schmidt apparently responded:
"Why did you remind me". Why didn’t it work? "It didin’t work because it just didn’t work. We celebrate our failure in the company because we want people to take risks."
If it's not working, then why is Google featuring product search results so prominently in its general results? Mr. Jarvis believes it makes Google's results more valuable and relevant; and given that Schmidt acknowledged that 97% of Google's revenue come from advertising, Jarvis believes Google might try to better monetize the product search listings on Google. Shopzilla will certainly be paying close attention.
 
We also discussed a recent post by Jon Fine about Barry Diller's perspective on paid web content. Diller was quoted as saying:

 "People will pay for content. I absolutely believe the internet is passin from its free phase into a paid system."

While Mr. Jarvis is not opposed to publishers charging for content, he believes that a predominantly paid model simply won't work. We believe he shares the Shopzilla Publisher Program's view that "the data yearns to be free". Walling the content takes it out of the conversation, which is where news and journalism is happening today. His belief is that consumers will continue to pay for access to content in cases where an advantage can be had from timely access to that information. For example, Bloomberg can command hefty premiums for its content because the consumers of that content can take advantage of market opportunities from its timely access (even if that window is only 6/10s of a second).
 
We closed our conversation by noting that BuzzMachine has all of two advertisements on its site: 1 AdSense placement and 1 BlogAd placement. So, of course, we wanted to know whether BuzzMachine wants to run Shopzilla Publisher Program ads. Jarvis' answer: Sure. There's nothing wrong with that answer!
 

Jeff Jarvis (L) & David Weinrot, Shopzilla Publisher Program (R) at Aspen Ideas Festival

The Affiliate Tax and CPC Programs

David Lewis at Revenews wrote an interesting article entitled "The End of Affiliate Marketing or the Rebirth of CPC?" related to the 'affiliate tax' that is hitting many states.  Specifically, he dives into how those CPA affiliates who are impacted may benefit from switching to CPC affiliate programs like the Shopzilla Publisher Program.  

For those who may be unfamiliar, several states are in various stages of passing laws that would change the definition of nexus.  Nexus means that the business has a legal presence in a given state, and must therefore collect sales tax on sales originating in that state.  The proposed change to the definition of nexus will include affiliates as 'salespeople' of the internet retailers they are affiliates of.  

For example, in California (one of the states where such a law is being advanced), although a business may not have previously had nexus in the state, under the new rule if a business has any affiliates based in California, they would need to collect sales tax on all California sales. 

Of course, most retailers would rather kill their affiliate programs in states that pass these laws rather than start charging sales tax on all sales in the state.  This is exactly what Amazon has done over the past week when it made the tough decision to end its CPA affiliate program in both North Carolina and Rhode Island.

As of today, New York and Rhode Island have already passed such laws.  Hawaii is predicted to pass its law (it's on the Governor's desk), and the situation is still ongoing in North Carolina and California.

As Lewis points out in his article, all is not lost if an affiliate tax passes in your state.  Using a CPC program like the Shopzilla Publisher Program is one way of for affiliates to work around it, since payment is made on the click, regardless of whether a sale is made.  Merchants may continue to list their offerings on CPC-based comparison shopping engines without fear of nexus being established in any other states.

If you are an affiliate based in one of the aforementioned states, we invite you to apply for the Shopzilla Publisher Program.  Don't let the affiliate tax wipe out a valuable revenue stream.

Shopzilla Publisher Program reviewed by va4business.com

Steve Arun, of va4business.com and cellphonesupersale.com, recently wrote a great review of the Shopzilla Publisher Program, and we thought we’d share it. Steve, who has been a Shopzilla Publisher for a while, seems to have a good understanding of our affiliate program and gives many accurate descriptions through his honest feedback. We have to agree with Steve’s conclusion about the Shopzilla Publisher Program:

“In conclusion, I’d say that this program is worth checking out. It does not hurt to start a campaign and see where it will take you because like millions of Publishers out there, they certainly found the results they desired, so perhaps it is your turn to reap the rewards!”

I am sure there was a lot of research involved, but we think it was time well spent. We would encourage any potential publishers to head on over and read Steve’s review for themselves on his website va4business.com.

Shopzilla on ProBlogger

Darren Rowse at ProBlogger is giving the Shopzilla Publisher Program rave reviews after recently using us on a few of his sites.  He writes:

I’ve been playing around with Shopzilla publishers network for a few months now but it’s only been in the last week that I’ve had time to take it for a full run on my blogs.

Today I checked my stats and am kicking myself that I didn’t take this program more seriously sooner!

You can read the rest of Darren's blog post here, or his initial remarks on the Shopzilla Publisher Program here (from February).

We're always glad to hear from folks experiencing success with our program, so thanks, Darren.  We are all working hard over here to build and deliver a top notch service that meets the needs of all of our publishers.

Shopzilla Publisher Program The 5th Most Popular Affiliate Program

We all (well, maybe not all of us) eagerly anticipate the release of Shawn Collins monthly update on the most popular affiliate programs listed on his website, AffiliateTip.com.

Earlier today, Shawn published the August rankings and for the fourth consecutive month in a row, the Shopzilla Publisher Program has made the top 10 list. Each month, we've edged up in the rankings. Here's how we've been positioned in the rankings over that time.

In May, 2007, Shopzilla's affiliate program was the 10th most popular affiliate program.

For June 2007, we were ranked the 9th most popular program.

In July, we moved up 2 rungs to the 7th most popular program.

And, in August, we continued our climb up the rankings to become the 5th most popular affiliate program.

A quick update...it's now mid-2009, and as of the last official AffiliateTip.com's 'Top Ten' in January 2009, we're holding steady as 2nd most popular program, sadly just behind AzoogleAds. 

Shopzilla Publisher Program Sponsors John Chow dot Com

We've been following JohnChow.com's anticipated blog redesign. So, when we learned of an opportunity to sponsor the launch of his new theme, we delighted to formalize our association with the highly respected blogger. We're up there with some other much vaunted bloggers, like the ZacJohnson.com, we had the good fortune of meeting in person at the Shawn Collin's Affiliate Summit East.

We were also amazed at the fanfare that John was able to generate around his new theme (as he likes to refer to it). As of this morning, there are already 184 comments about the design. Here's his site in all it's glory!

If other bloggers would like the Shopzilla Publisher Program to sponsor their blog, please contact us.