Friday, May 19, 2006

Commission Junction Network "Expanding"?

CJ posted a notice on the merchant interface yesterday that I found rather curious:

"In an effort to better serve our clients, Commission Junction will soon be expanding our network to allow publishers from some additional countries to join. The activation of these additional countries will help us provide a truly global network and present new opportunities for advertisers to maximize their international presence. China will be the first new country, becoming active on May 22, 2006."

A few things strike me as unusual:

1. China used to be a country listed on the application page, in fact I found several sites from China in the various programs we manage dating back to 2002.
2. CJ has always had the biggest and best platform for international affiliates and merchants. They have the ability to display reports in native currencies and pay affiliates in their native currency. What they're calling "global expansion" has been in place for years.
3. CJ currently suports 203 countries. If you are one of the 45 residents of the Pitcairn Islands you can apply to be a CJ publisher. Just how many countries are left to conquer?

Did Commission Junction see large amounts of fraudulent transactions from certain countries and decide to block all affiliates coming in from those countries? Now that those countries are being let back in slowly they could have said "Hey, we're letting all the bad guys back in", or "We tossed the baby out with the bath water when we blocked ALL affiliates from these countries", but they're putting a friendlier spin on it. I'm actually surprised they made any statement at all - they didn't notify merchants when they removed certain countries off of the application.

Personally I would rather be the one that decides who I want to work with rather than having the network choose for me, so I think its a good thing that they are not blocking affiliates from specific countries. Word of warning - if you are running an affiliate program with limited or no resources and don't know who your affiliate partners are this change could effect you in a bad way. Our agency is constantly reviewing which affilaites are driving orders and if we don't already know who they are we make it our business to learn. If the affiliate is unresponsive to our emails, we may become suspicious and watch future orders more closely.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

MSN AdCenter RoadShow Hits NYC

I had the pleasure of attending MSN's AdCenter RoadShow today at the Helmsley Hotel in NY City. About 50 search engine marketers, mostly from agencies attended this 3 hour training and informational seminar. One interesting thing for me was their vision on how they plan to integrate all of their advertising products within the AdCenter. They hinted at the possibility that you could eventually purchase all of your advertising on MSN through the AdCenter in a self serve environment. Building on Steve Ballmer's recent announcement that Microsoft will be spending more than $1 Billion on research and development, MSN is clearly out to be a serious player not only in search but in all online advertising. There are clearly some issues and bugs that need to be worked out with AdCenter before it can really compete, but it looks like they've got a good start.