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This week’s Imagine Commerce 2015 in Las Vegas was a great opportunity to network with more than 2,400 commerce experts including merchants, agencies and technology providers from more than 40 countries.

The first day of the 5th annual Magento and eBay Enterprise commerce conference featured Michael Jones, Head of Affiliate for eBay Enterprise Affiliate Network (EEAN), giving an update on the state of the network.

He told the crowd that he was “embarrassed by the lack of innovation and evolution in industry,” but was starting to see some significant movement to redefine the market opportunity and build a movement toward “incrementality,” Jones said.

However, he noted that Advertisers are saying: “Prove to me I wouldn’t get these sales anyway.”

Jones has seen a lot different actions being taken recently on the part of merchants including pulse testing, pausing programs and lowering of commissions. He claims this is due to networks and publishers not having built “a program of optimization,” instead they are employing “rear view optimization, inefficient data, and an inability to act with no flexibility.”

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Some new reporting and tracking from EEAN will help merchants and affiliates better understand their programs. eBay is now offering Dynamic Commissioning and Reporting, which is totally customizable and will give an unprecedented degree of control, allowing merchants to set rules to pay affiliates according to incrementality, Jones said.

Jones offered up some great data about the overall performance of programs running on EEN:

  • 56 percent of customers are new-to-file
  • AOV on returning customers is 5-percent  higher;  9-percent with loyalty sites
  • 46 percent of new customers close within 24 hours
  • 6 media touches per sale is the norm – this is a key knowledge point when looking incremental commissioning
  • With attribution there is an Introducer. Influencer. Closer.
  • 22 percent of first clicks originated with affiliate channel – this is much higher than most people give credit to the channel as most see the channel is based on the “Leapfrog{, consumers bouncing out of the cart to find a better deal from their favorite coupon, deal or loyalty site.

He also gave some additional insights into the Affiliate Channel:

  • Affiliate is the second best channel for conversion
  • 10-12 percent of all online retail sales come from the affiliate channel, but only 50 percent of brands opt-in to utilize
  • There still seems to be a negative context for the channel
  • Top brands say affiliate channel is important ahead of retargeting about same as SEO but lower than PPC
  • The Affiliate channel scales better than other channels

Publisher Segments:

  • Coupon and loyalty are 45 percent of traffic and 80 percent of sales contributors
  • Every segment of publishers grew an average of 20 percent year-over-year

Shopping Cart Abandonment:

  • Affiliates drive 2X AOV above average – $145 vs. $75
  • Network conversion rate is about 3.8 percent- cart abandon and loyalty sites are the best performers
  • Average network payout is 6 percent with a shift to pay more to niche sites rather than coupon deal sites
  • Publishers exceeding $17 ROAS and top producers are cart abandon and loyalty

The Importance of Mobile:

  • Mobile is growing rapidly – of top publishers, 70 percent have mobile sites
  • 15 percent of overall network sales revenue is driven by mobile
  • For advertisers, the average Mobile AOV is $72
eBay Enterprise Network by Category
Category AVG CR AVG Payout AOV % Mobile Sales
Shopping Malls 2.80% 4.00% $75.40 14.00%
Big Box, Department Stores, Specialty
Sports/Fitness 1.20% 7.00% $77.94 20.00%
Youth, equipment, fitness
Health/Fitness 6.10% 6.90% $60.89 15.00%
Vitamins, Beauty, Bath/Spa, Grooming
Games/Toys 4.60% 3.70% $85.17 15.00%
Games, toys, outdoor play, video games
Baby 5.30% 3.20% $28.25 19.00%
Gear, play, nursery, bath
Home/Garden 2.50% 5.10% $125.39 6.00%
Garden, home improvement, kitchen, furnishings
Computers/Electronics 2.90% 5.60% $114.71 11.00%
Mobile, wearables, TV, computer
Clothing/Apparel 2.50% 6.70% $85.99 19.00%
Women’s, Men’s, Teens, Children, Fitness
Jewelry 3.80% 5.80% $107.67 23.00%
Bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings
Accessories 2.30% 7.00% $108.88 19.00%
Shoes, handbags, men’s accessories

Jones also noted that in 2015 EEN is expanding internationally. The network currently has more than 1,500 customers and 200,000 publishers and will be making investments in tech and human resources to help manage growth.

I was honored to participate in a panel called “Strategies for Creating Successful Placement Opportunities”, which also included executives from eBay Enterprise Affiliate Network including Michelle Morgan, Manager, Publisher Development, Tara DeGiusto, Sr. Specialist, Advertiser Development, and Jenna Walsh, Sr. Specialist, Client Development.

We took an in-depth look at how brands are buying placements. And focused on what makes a brand purchase a placement; the value of placement position; how placements are sold; pricing; and how publishers can attract advertisers with the best possible placement opportunities.

The conference was a great learning and networking experience. If you can attend next year, I highly recommend you do.