The Word Bay

About the eBay Partner Network

The eBay Partner Network (EPN) is eBay’s in-house affiliate program, which was created in around May 2008. Prior to that, the eBay affiliate program was run through Commission Junction, the big affiliate clearing network. At that time, affiliates were paid a straight percentage of sales via a tiered system, plus, controversially, were paid $25 for confirmed new sign-ups (so-called ACRUs). The latter scheme is believed to have been massively gamed by black-hatters, defrauding eBay of vast sums of money. Presumably this was partly the reason for eBay wanting to start an in-house affiliate program – the ability to directly monitor and control what their affiliates were doing.

EPN controversy

EPN brought some major changes for affiliates, though. They quickly introduced a scheme to price ACRUs according to their ‘quality’, paying affiliates according to the value each new sign-up yielded rather than a flat $25 – an effort to stem the tide of fake signups, though it was never really revealed what this ‘value’ was measured by.

In the footsteps of this, in September 2009, the old commission model was scrapped altogether and the so-called Quality Click Pricing (QCP) model introduced – a kind of pay-per-click system, but where the exact value of clicks is determined by the actions of visitors sent to eBay (whether they sign up, whether they buy, what they buy etc.) and is calculated by a mysterious algorithm that only EPN are privy to.

This opened a very controversial period in the history of EPN – there was a disastrous lack of transparency and communication from EPN, the QCP system was widely criticised (especially by those who saw earnings plummet!), there were blatant tracking problems, some of which were admitted to and recompensed, some not. And there were large numbers of affiliates simply axed from the program for no apparent reason (if those affiliates are to be believed) and with no recourse. To cap all this, EPN became notoriously difficult to get accepted into (though see my article on how to get accepted by EPN).

All this earned EPN a (partly deserved) bad reputation which they are gradually seeking to improve with better communication and a friendlier face (see their blog).

Recommending the eBay Partner Network

Though I have had occasion to suspect tracking problems even in the recent past (a complete, month-long earnings flatline, despite no corresponding drop or change in traffic back in November 2010, to mention a ‘minor’ one!) I still have to say that EPN is a good program in terms of its earnings potential: I still see my largest slab of affiliate earnings come from EPN, and sales seem to come very easily. Even newbies can easily make their first affiliate sales through EPN – eBay converts very well and is a trusted online retailer.

On these pages I will try to give some more info on EPN and how to maximise your earnings using Wordbay and eBay listings, but in short – don’t dismiss EPN. The sheer numbers of people still clamouring to get into the program tells you it is still a very desirable affiliate program to be in.