Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pay-per-Lead: Commission Junction

Program Reviews: Pay-per-Lead

Commission Junction

Company Overview:
Commission Junction (CJ) has grown over the last year to be one of the largest affiliate program networks. They boast over 1700 merchants at the time of this review, and are adding new merchants on literally a daily basis. There are a variety of reasons why CJ has been able to grow so quickly.

First, they offer very competitive pricing for their merchants, compared to competing networks like BeFree and LinkShare. This has allowed CJ to not only sign up some big-name web properties, but also attract dozens of more smaller, more targeted, niche merchants. Second, CJ has continuously improved their own affiliate program to provide more benefits to affiliates, and encourage them to help grow the CJ network. It CJ's own affiliate program that we will look at for the purpose of this review, however we will also touch on many aspects of CJ that carry over to all of their merchant partners.

Program Details:
The foundation of the CJ affiliate program is their two-tier commission plan. What this means is that as an affiliate, you are able to earn commissions in two ways for referring new webmasters to the CJ network. First, if the person you refer goes on to join CJ (either to promote CJ directly or one of thousands of merchants), you will earn a $2 up-front referral bounty.

Second, thereafter, for as long as that person remains a CJ affiliate member, you will earn 5% of the commissions they generate for themselves. It should be noted that the referral bounty and 5% residual commissions are only applicable for new affiliates that you refer to CJ. If they were already CJ members, you will not earn these commissions.

As an example, let's say 40 people clicked through from your web site. Then, if 10 of them signed up to be a CJ affiliate, you would earn $20 in referral bounties. Lastly, if those 10 affiliates went on to be active and generate $50 each in commissions each month, you would receive $25 in second-tier commissions on a monthly basis. Although this might be a slightly optimistic example, you can see the power of the CJ program. In this example, referring 10 active affiliates to the program would net you $320 over the course of a one-year period.

CJ offers a variety of other benefits to affiliates. First, unlike many of the other affiliate networks, commissions earned from all merchants are pooled together in one check, and you are paid monthly by CJ directly (not by the merchant). The advantage here is that if you sign up for, say, 10 different CJ merchant's affiliate programs, and each one earns you $5, you will be paid the full $50 you earned. With many other affiliate networks, you would have been paid nothing since you would have not reached the normal minimum check sizes they set (generally $25-100 per merchant). Additionally, CJ offers centralized online commission reports for all merchant programs.

A second advantage of CJ is that just as their own affiliate program is two tier with, all other merchants in their network are also, by default, two-tier. The 5% second-tier commissions apply to all merchants in their network, and not just the CJ affiliate program itself.

Lastly, CJ offers a wide variety of affiliate programs that you can promote on your site. Since they have attracted many smaller merchants, many of them are highly targeted, focusing on a particular niche. This is very useful if your site is also very targeted, since it will increase the likelihood of finding a merchant that is appropriate for your audience. Programs in CJ also range across all types of affiliate commission models, including pay-per-click, pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale.
Visitor Feedback:
So, what kind of feedback has been received about CJ? From a merchant's point of view, I have only received excellent feedback, and from numerous sources. CJ offers a well-designed, well-implemented solution at a reasonable price.

From an affiliates point of view, I have received slightly more mixed feedback. Earlier in CJ's history there were some reports of missed commissions or suspected inaccurate tracking. However, a quick look at my email archives doesn't show a complaint in the last 9 months, so it can be assumed that CJ has ironed out any possible problems they have had.

I have in the last 9 months received several pieces of good feedback, including many reports that CJ always pays on time and accurately. With a poor payment record generally being the major source of complaints for any affiliate program, I am confident in recommending CJ at this time.

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dumindu said...
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