PepperJam Network – First Impressions

RumorsPepperJam have just launched a new affiliate network, and these are my notes whilst signing up. It is going to be a little bit rough, but there is hopefully a lot of value.

Affiliate Signup Process

The correct 2 letter code should be UK for UK affiliates – I have have US border officials berate me over that so it must be true. I have now had Tim berate me over this in the comments and GB is the correct ISO format

VAT Required for Euro affiliates – I think this sets the bar too high (and excludes me) – you need to have an individual company that earns enough to make VAT registration worthwhile, and many affiliates operate multiple companies to avoid this.
The current UK taxable turnover threshold is GBP64,000 – over $100,000 from a single company entity – thus for anyone in Europe you are effectively catering only for super affiliates.

3 Letter for State – my registered office address is in Kent – Kent doesn’t have a 3 letter equivalent – there is a suggestion of ENG which might be for England, but that is not 100% clear.

Every time you submit and have to make a correction, half of the form clears, including all your promotion and business sector information. If you are not using roboform to save this before each submission, it would be a serious pain for anyone that misses something, or didn’t realise that something really is required.

Manual Confirmation Required

After you have filled out the form, and confirmed your email address, you have to wait manual confirmation of your account. This for me seems like an unnecessary process, after all they wouldn’t have to pay out any fraudulent applications, and it is an unusual step though not unheard of for more private affiliate programs.

30+ Hrs Later…

It is what I was expecting, after the signup was confirmed the message stated 24-48 hrs – sure I could have emailed Kris to try to speed up the process, but that wouldn’t have been a very good test. I did email the standard support address with my initial findings up until this stage of the review just in case there might be a problem with some of the data I entered.

I noticed after I signed in that there was a reminder that I needed to fill out payment details – that is something I don’t mind doing especially when you seem to be able to request a bank transfer straight away.

One thing that was surprising is I didn’t so far see any mention of fees for processing or controls on minimum payout when dealing with checks. If you have received a $2 check from Linkshare in the past as a new affiliate you will know why I am referring to this, especially if you live in Europe and have a bank that isn’t $US friendly with horrible fees.

My HSBC Business account in the UK is great for dollar processing, but personal checks that I sometimes get by mistake in my name and have to go to my Barclays account in the UK are a nightmare.

One thing which was annoying is that for some reason some of the details I filled in on application were now blank or incorrect.

Website description was empty
State was not what I entered (which was Kent, more than the 3 letters allowed)
VAT number was masked with ************* – now lets think about this – if you are a UK business with a VAT number, you have it plastered all over the place, it is not something that is private – sometime in the future I am going to forget that I entered a fake VAT number in my application and not be able to see a visual reference.

Basic Interface

One thing I like about PepperJam is that when you first log in, you are immediately presented with the most important stats, not a whole load of offers to sign up with more new merchants. That may change in the future as the system matures, but I have never liked systems that require you to do lots of switching around, and maybe a seperate login to get to core stats.

Selection of Merchants

Straight forward – when you browse for merchants with a mixture of keyword search and category filtering, you get a choice of merchants to sign up with, program details and lots of ways to contact them (that bit is rare) – also important is that each time you sign up you don’t seem to have to read a whole new affiliate agreement.
That has honestly always annoyed me.

Selection – a few big names plus a few friends from the SEO space such as the Mozzers, TLA / ReviewMe and PepperJam themselves. If you are looking for lots of products for your “Make Money Online” blog you won’t find them… yet
There is a good selection for a new network of quality brands to choose from,

Generating Links

Once you have signed up with a merchant (some are auto acceptance, so you have to wait to be accepted) there are all kinds of creatives available. One nice touch are the introduction emails from each program you join along with example creatives and a welcome message.

One thing I really wanted to explore and is important to affiliates is how easy it is to use keyword level tracking with a sid parameter, and also the possibility to deep link and maybe do all these things on the fly without logging in to the console each time.

Here are 2 links I have generated to play with the deep linking an SID codes

First of all we have a link to the announcement of the affiliate program on the PepperJam blog using pjn-announcement as the SID

<a href="http://www.pntra.com/t/QEg_REY_SEJFQkhBQ0M?sid=pjn-announcement&http%3A%2F%2Fpepperjamblog.com%2F2008%2F01%2F15%2Fpepperjam-announces-launch-of-next-generation-affiliate-marketing-network%2F">Join Pepperjam Network today!</a><img src="http://www.pntra.com/i/QEg_REY_SEJFQkhBQ0M?sid=pjn-announcement" height="1" width="1" border="0"></img>
</blockquote>

For the second one I decided to link directly to the PepperJam blog home page using “pjn announcement2″ as the SID with a space – you will notice that the space has been converted to a “+”
That doesn’t actually create a conflict, because the + character is reserved.

<a href="http://www.pntrs.com/t/QEg_REY_SEJFQkhBQ0M?sid=pjn+announcement2&http%3A%2F%2Fpepperjamblog.com%2F">Join Pepperjam Network today!</a><img src="http://www.pntrs.com/i/QEg_REY_SEJFQkhBQ0M?sid=pjn+announcement2" height="1" width="1" border="0"></img>

Once you have the link code for a merchant, in theory you don’t need to log in again (for links), you could generate 1000s of links of your own on-the-fly.

For each creative they provide, there is a different link – I think personally I would be more inclined to use a different SID

It is effectively the same for banner advertising, though the links are different
Rumors Are True

With the 100 character limit for your SIDs, you should pass through SESSION IDs and not keywords to the merchants.

But it seems the deep linking isn’t working – if you happened to click the link I made to the announcement on the pepperjam blog I made above, you will notice that you still end up on the affiliate announcement signup page for the network.
The links also aren’t doing a nice clean redirect, so after a click you still have the whole messy URL showing.
Note: this isn’t because it was on a different domain, this link to the testimonials currently also takes you to the affiliate signup form for PepperJam Network.

I would love to be able to filter based upon deep linking.

Hopefully this is something that will be fixed soon, but I also hope it won’t be abused – I love on-the-fly deep linking.

Contextual Ads

These don’t seem to be contextual – you can create advertising blocks, assign them a SID, and select the text adverts you want to be displayed in them.

One negative side of these advertising blocks is that unlike the other links, you can’t assign your own SID on-the-fly which would have been fairly cool. Maybe it would be better to build your own text ad blocks using conventional text links as above, to give you more tracking.

Product Feeds

This is beta, the feeds don’t seem to be live yet – hopefully in the future you will be able to filter merchants by which ones give feeds.

Chat

There is a chat interface to allow you to comunicate with merchants – it will be interesting to see how this works out for the super affiliates, I am not sure how useful it is for the little guy – whilst I was writing this there was noone online to chat to – it will be interesting whether chat history is saved and how other features work. I would almost just a link through on Skype or other chat than to have a proprietary system, but we will see how it works long-term.

PepperJam Chat

When You Get Paid

This is something that isn’t as clear as I would like.

The ToS suggest that you get paid bi-monthly, but elsewhere it suggests that accounting for the previous month takes place on the 20th for the previous month, but doesn’t say when that payment is actually made, and doesn’t say whether this the 20th after the “action” happened, or when PepperJam got paid.

If things effectively work out as “net monthly” that is workable, but I would obviously much prefer faster payments. Cashflow is an important consideration for many affiliates.

Next Generation?

Currently… honestly? Hard to tell – the interface isn’t too bad but there is still a fair amount of page reloading. The communication interfaces have yet to be tested, and there are a few teething problems, but that is to be expected but something you always hope not to find.

I did test the reporting – whilst clicks are not officially meant to be reorded this quickly, they seem to show up very fast – I am not sure whether impressions also are counted as quickly. Hopefully things will work well when the servers are placed under a little more strain.

Ultimately I think it will meet the promise of the big launch, it is good to have some clear channel of communication with larger merchants. I haven’t looked at the merchant side of the service, but I hope they are also provided with the tools they require, and that the costs are reasonable.

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Comments

  1. says

    The ISO standard country codes it’s GB the term UK comes only when you are dealing with both Great Britain and her overseas dependence such as the Falkland Isles, British Virgin isles etc at the same time.

    Given that 90% of cases this is not the case (certainly not with deliveries for example) you would use the term GB and then mark the dependencies with (UK) beside them. As for the US custom officials if they insist on erroneously using UK when it should be GB then perhaps they should use the full title.

    End of Rant.

    • says

      I have actually been forced to re-fill out double sided immigration forms over that, and it can’t be just one border official, because every time since then I used UK and was never corrected.

      Almost every other form I have to use Wielka Brytania or Anglia these days, the Poles don’t seem to like any paperwork to be made shorter.

    • says

      The UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and Northern Ireland.

      The Falklands are an overseas territory of the UK, not part of the UK itself, whilst it’s inhabitants are full British Citizens (since the war).

      More simply, Great Britain like the British Isles is a geographical region, whereas the UK is the political entity; furthermore we travel on UK passports, hence US customs famed bureaucracy.

      /rant :-)

      Andy:

      Funny, I have exactly the same situation with exactly the same banks.

      With Product Feeds, any idea when and are there any other suppliers of feeds you particularly like?

  2. Ed says

    Absolutely, a very thorough review!
    I hope PepperJam takes notice of this review, as you made some very valid points Andy.

  3. says

    The reason for the country code “GB” instead of “UK” is actually that both the UK and Ukraine wanted UK, and the compromise was that neither got it – Ukraine got UA, and United Kingdom got GB. In other words, the country code “GB” misleadingly refers to the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland, not just Great Britain.

    Of course most people have no idea that “GB” is the correct country code and use UK instead so I’ve more or less given up trying to use GB.

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