I received an e-mail last Friday from a guy named Dave Davis, President of Sea Breeze Media. The subject was: CJ Harassment.
Apparently, he’s cheesed about the part of the CJ Publisher Service Agreement where CJ retains the right to terminate inactive accounts.
Per section 3f (Dormant Accounts) of the agreement, “If Publisher’s Account has not been credited with a valid, compensable Transaction that has not been Charged-back during any rolling, six consecutive calendar month period (“Dormant Account”), a dormant account fee at CJ’s then-current rate shall be applied to Publisher’s Account each calendar month that Publisher’s Account remains an open yet Dormant Account or until Your Account balance reaches a zero balance, at which time the Account shall become deactivated. Transactions will not be counted if the Transaction subsequently becomes a Charge-back.”
First, it’s a term he has agreed to as a CJ Publisher. Second, enforcement of a term you’ve agreed to is hardly harassment.
And as both an affiliate and a merchant on CJ, I think this is perfectly reasonable.
When I am managing an affiliate program, one of the main goals is to activate as many affiliates as possible. I get that some people join programs with plans to promote them in the future, but if you cannot actively and effectively promote an affiliate program within six months, experience has indicated to me that nothing is going to happen if given another six months or a year.
Not to mention that fact that dead weight is actually a burden on affiliate managers. Sure, just to keep them in the system isn’t really an issue – storage of a bunch of zeros doesn’t cost a whole lot.
But it’s the necessary monitoring and activation efforts of non-performing affiliates that costs. It’s a time and money allotment – the dedication of resources that would be better spent with active players.
In the case of Dave Davis, he claims that he’s sending thousands of clicks per month. The reality here is that anybody running an affiliate program on CJ is cognizant of their EPC and when somebody is sending clicks that never convert, they are having a negative impact on the EPC.
Below is the letter from Mr. Davis (reprinted with permission):
Hi CJ Advertisers/Affiliate Managers,
I have been a CJ publisher off and on since 2004. I am also signed up with BFast, ClickBank, LinkShare, many independents and other programs. I will be dropping any and all companies who deal with CJ, due to their harassment of small publishers.
I have made thousands in commissions elsewhere, especially with the independents, but not a penny from CJ publishers. This is not my complaint, but the harassment in being deactivated every six months by CJ if no sales have been registered is nothing short of harassment. First, 6 months is not enough time, to build or rebuild pages with CJ links, adequately test, then retain the winners. Secondly, with the cost of storage being mere pennies per MB these days, where’s the need to deactivate after such a ridiculous short period of time, especially when it’s obvious that my sites send thousands of click throughs through the CJ system every month.
I have 5 websites, 3 of which are CJ ad free–nothing personal with the programs, just CJ–1 which used to be built around major CJ Advertisers, and my latest, which I’m quickly converting to be CJ free. After all, I’m a one-man-band, and content is supposed to be king, but with CJ’s constant harassment, I spend way too much time rebuilding my CJ links every time my account is deactivated and then I sign (new ID number) and start all over again. I’ve done this 3 or 4 times.
Of course, I have written CJ about my concerns, and below are some of the replies:
I just looked at your account and saw that your account is scheduled to be active for the next six months. I’m sorry for the inconvenience your deactivation caused, but that is our policy. It prevents our network from being clogged with inactive publishers who no longer maintain their sites.
Excuse me, but who was inactive? I wasn’t, as the CT would attest. At that time, the site with all my CJ links was my main, and most active site sending thousands of CT through to CJ. After number further queries, I received this:
11/10/2004 08:09 AM
You will be happy to hear that we are currently instituting a policy to send publishers a warning one month before their accounts are due to deactivate. It has not gone into effect yet because our engineers are still working on the programming, but it will hopefully go into effect soon.
Now, isn’t this interesting, as I was just deactivated for the 3rd or 4th time without a word from CJ. Then some more concerns, I received this:
11/26/2004 01:27 PM
Unfortunately, at this time I do not have specific information regarding publisher warnings. When the new feature is introduced, more information will be made available. As for your second question, no, unfortunately it is not possible to reactivate an account that has been deactivated due to the CJ dormancy policy. Please let me know if you have any additional concerns.
There’s that dormancy word again. Who’s account were they checking? I guess to CJ, dormant means NO SALES, not the true meaning of the word, as CTs were always ongoing. Even so, what does it cost CJ to keep and active, but no sales, publisher on the books. Let me see… a few KB of disk space for my account info, a ezine that is rarely sent, and when sent, sent automatically and basically, for free… Hmmmm! That’s about it.?
CJ recently–Oct, 2005–changed rules again, but I found no mention of the publisher warning above. Also, a new rule that I wrote concerns about, but they never replied was, in essence:
“If no sales are made in 6 months and the account is still active, the publisher will be fined. When sales are finally made and the commissions pay off the fines, the account will then be deactivated.”
Now, excuse me people, but does that sound like a draconian rule that was made up by someone, or a group, that’s been smoking too much home grown… if you know what I mean 😉 Are the nuts falling from the trees down there in sunny California, or are they hangin’ with Whacko Jacko too much???
Now, seeing as I had 2 out of 5 sites with CJ links onboard, with one built around some major CJ advertisers, with most CJ links outdated since the last CJ deactivation–sorry people, but I thought websites were for people, so I’ve been busy building content–leaving my latest site heavy with CJ links, but the weeks of cleansing this site of CJ links, I’ll soon have CJ out of my hair.
I don’t have this problem, or any others, from other agencies, even BFast, part of the CJ slumpire. I make sales everywhere, but through CJ. Six months is nowhere near enough time to add content, add links, test and then select… and regardless, I was always sending CTs through CJ, not “dormant” like they claim.
I’ll be selling the website that was built around CJ links because of CJ harassment and the fact that I wish to concentrate on new online assets, none of which rely on CJ advertisers any longer… I don’t need the aggravation. So, if you happen to be one of the 39 CJ advertisers receiving this email, blame your sites inability to convert thousands of warm leads sent your way, and CJ for its continued harassment as chronicled above.
Over the past 3 years I have spent more time maintaining my CJ accounts, rebuilding expired links, due to account deactivation, than all the others combined. I’ve got a business to run, and I can no longer afford the time necessary to rebuild my CJ links every six months due to crazy, autocratic, self-serving, and not very intelligent rules set upon us by the CJ team. I’ve written countless times re this, and bugs in the system, but they would rather enact more ineffective rules, and to this, and you all, I say: Hasta la vista, baby. Is that right, Arne?