Review Information Last Updated on: April 30, 2014
On February 3, 2014, Commission Junction was re-branded as CJ Affiliate by Conversant. CJ Affilate is one of the oldest and biggest affiliate networks. All of their offers are CPA, meaning that publishers get paid only when users convert into either a lead, subscriber, sale, or some other action beyond a mere impression or click. With thousands of advertisers and hundreds of thousands of offers, CJ is very popular among bloggers and small Web publishers.
CJ Affiliate by Conversant Tech Implementation Rating: 4 out of 5.
CJ Affiliate by Conversant Publisher Reporting & Admin Control Panel Rating: 4 out of 5.
CJ Affiliate by Conversant Payment Rating: 5 out of 5.
CJ Affiliate by Conversant Account Help Rating: 3 out of 5.
Founded in 1998 and publicly owned by online advertising conglomerate ValueClick, CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction) is arguably the largest affiliate advertising marketplace. With over 3,000 active advertisers, Web publisher and bloggers have hundreds of thousands of marketing offers to choose from when it comes to monetizing a site with affiliate links and banners.
The affiliate marketing offers available in the CJ Affiliate by Conversant marketplace are CPA, meaning that publishers earn commissions when their users convert into a lead, sale, subscriber, or when some other action is performed by the user on the advertiser’s website. Merely generating impressions or clicks alone does not produce revenue, though publishers do have the option display revenue in terms of EPC and eCPM rates on their reports, allowing them to compare apples-to-apples figures with display networks such as Google AdSense.
Unlike most display advertising networks that rotate a handful or dozens or even hundreds of advertisers with just one ad unit code, CJ Affiliate by Conversant lets its publishers choose exactly which advertisers’ products it wants to display and where. So an ad unit code not only specifies the size and/or type of creative (banner or text link), but also the specific advertiser offer.
When you insert a Google AdSense ad unit code into your shoe review website, that same code may display ads for several different advertisers, including for instance Nike, Reebok, New Balance, and more. On the other hand, with CJ Affiliate by Conversant, you get to choose exactly which advertiser you want running in every particular location on your site. So if you have a review page for Reebok shoes, you may wish to run only Reebok offers there, as an example. And in this particular example, this presents a perfect opportunity to use CJ as a monetization method.
The flexibility in being able to choose your advertisers and product offers with such granularity is very powerful. But it can also present quite the challenge: each advertiser may offer dozens or even hundreds of different affiliate links and banners. And with each new advertiser you sign with, you have another account rep to deal with and another set of terms and conditions to abide by. If your site offers reviews of say 1,000 different products from 100 different companies, and you want to monetize those reviews with CJ offers, then you’re going to be dealing with 1,000 different ad unit code snippets and 100 different advertiser program representatives and T&C contracts.
The corollary here is that there are a lot of moving parts to manage with all of the different advertisers and product offers on CJ. But if handled properly, revenues can greatly exceed those earned through a traditional display network such as Google AdSense.
Even more so than a contextual traditional display advertising network, who will over time optimize your ad units based on CPC, you will need to constantly be testing and updating link codes and offers based on performance with CJ. From time to time, offers expire, advertisers drop their programs, or performance deteriorates due to other factors.
There’s a lot of upkeep to prevent obsolete or poorly-performing links and banners from being live on your site, taking up valuable real estate. Without keeping a keen eye on your site’s performance, revenues can rot away within months, if not weeks. From a customer service standpoint, CJ Affiliate by Conversant is reasonably reliable, even if not quite as supportive as those networks who provide a dedicated account rep.
CJ publishers are not assigned a dedicated account rep, nor is email an option for contacting support. Instead, support requests must be made through a contact form, which is by no means a dealbreaker, but is an inconvenience nonetheless. For support requests regarding specific advertisers or product offers, publishers should not contact CJ, but rather the advertisers themselves.
Many advertisers are very open to receiving requests and a real person will get back to you right away via email to offer support. But some advertisers are not so responsive and have no single person handling such requests, but rather a team of individuals who are generally not as helpful or responsive.
Regarding payment, CJ is very reliable, offering payment on Net-20 terms, meaning that payment will be received within 20 days of the end of the month. While payment can be received via paper check or direct deposit, PayPal is not an option.
Overall, CJ Affiliate by Conversant is a very good affiliate ad network. The control panel is usable (even if reporting can take a while to master) and getting the affiliate links and banners is simple enough.
Optimizing your offers is another matter. When it comes to running multiple offers from multiple advertisers through CJ, constant attention needs to be given to ensure good performance is achieved and maintained.
Supplementing display advertising with CJ offers can work very well on certain sites, especially review sites whose users are already in the buying cycle and prepared to take action on the affiliate offers that are presented.