Affiliate Link Performance Metrics are Misleading

Having analyzed how affiliates see links on 5 affiliate networks — Commission Junction, LinkShare, ShareASale, Google Affiliate Network, and AvantLink — I have noticed that 2 of these 5 (CJ and AvantLink) offer data on link performance.

Commission Junction shows link’s 3-months and 7-days EPC:

Commission Junction reports link EPC

AvantLink, in their turn, displays link’s Conversion Rate “calculated from click-throughs and sales in the past 30 days”:

AvantLink reports link converson rate

On the one hand, displaying data like EPC and conversion rate may seem to be an extremely valuable thing to do. In reality, it isn’t.

The problem with link-specific performance metrics is that they are nearly always skewed. Over 7+ years of my affiliate program management experience I have been observing how many affiliates just pull the affiliate tracking code from the first text link they see, and then link the rest of their campaigns through it. This is precisely why in the above case with Volusion’s affiliate program among the merchant’s best-performing creatives you’ll find 3 text links (see their EPC measurements circled above).

Affiliates, do not let link performance data (as reported either by an affiliate network, or an in-house affiliate program software) guide your decisions. When it comes to deciding which links perform best, you want to be experimenting and measuring by yourself.

The same advice applies to merchants as well. I know that most affiliate networks (even those that don’t make such info public to affiliates) give merchants the info on their “performance” of their links.

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