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Signing Up with an Advertiser

Let's pretend that you aren't at the Affiliate Account Manager. So that you can participate in the entire process of signing up with advertisers, go back to the Commission Junction home page. Figure 11 shows the main page on the day that I captured these screen shots (it has undoubtedly changed since then, but the main links and controls should be approximately the same). In the two text boxes provided for that purpose, log in by entering the email address you used for your account, along with your password (in Figure 11, the login is in the upper-right corner).

Figure 11 Broker's front page.

Now that you're a client, you can log in and access the Affiliate Account Manager directly to see what's up with your account, sign up for more advertisers, etc. (see Figure 12).

Figure 12 The Affiliate Account Manager page.

This page is rather complicated the first time you see it, but you get used to it after a while. There are several locations you should check on a regular basis. Near the upper-right corner is information about your current balance. This is the money you've made to date that you haven't been paid. You can get more detailed statistics related to this balance in the Generate Reports section on the right side of the page, which includes information about ad impressions, click-throughs, and commissions earned, to name a few.

Viewing Advertiser Categories

The section that we'll concentrate on next is the Categories tab under the Get Links section on the left side of the page. Unless you have a really tall computer screen and your browser is maximized, you probably won't see this section when you first bring up the Affiliate Account Manager, so you'll have to scroll down to see the Categories tab. As Figure 13 shows, the Categories tab lists advertiser categories (in bold) and subcategories. To sign up with an advertiser, find a general category that you think describes your users (such as Family) or that contains items of interest to your users (such as Web Services) and click one of the subcategories.

For our sample web site (http://www.ProfessorF.com), we'll select the Search Engine link in the Web Services category to display the screen shown in Figure 14.

Figure 13 Advertiser categories.

Figure 14 Advertisers in the Search Engine category.

This screen also looks more complicated than it really is. The first two columns are the most important:

  • Merchant. This is the advertiser.

  • Commission Rates. This is how you get paid, and how much.

At this point, you can sign up with an individual advertiser by clicking the Join Program link in the next-to-last column. You can sign up with several advertisers at once by checking one or more of the boxes on the left and then clicking the button labeled Join Checked Programs at the bottom of the page (not shown in the figure).

Getting More Info About an Advertiser

Unless you're already familiar with the advertiser's program, you should read up on the advertiser before signing up. For no particular reason, let's find out about "Ask Jeeves," which is the sixth advertiser listed in Figure 14. Click the link in the Merchant column to display the Merchant Detail page for that merchant (see Figure 15).

Figure 15 Merchant Detail page.

The Program Description row on the Merchant Detail page summarizes the advertiser's program. The summary often contains restrictions regarding your site's content. For example, among other restrictions, Ask Jeeves won't accept sites that contain "violent, abusive, misleading, bigoted, or hate-oriented content." Read the summary for your selected merchant carefully to see whether your site qualifies.

A word of caution: Many advertisers automatically accept you when you click the Join Program button. However, they may go back later—quite often when it's time to cut a check for you—and audit your site to see whether you violate any of their restrictions. If you violate any of their restrictions, they may terminate you on the spot and you'll lose any money you made under their program. Read the program description carefully!

The Merchant Detail page also provides payment details in the Commission Rates section. You can see in Figure 15 that Ask Jeeves pays just a penny per click-through.

Viewing Specific Ads and Signing Up

If you like what you read in the program description and you decide to sign up with the advertiser, you can click the button labeled Join Program. After joining, you can select the particular ads you want to place on your web pages. However, I like viewing the available ads before joining. Sometimes you'll find an advertiser that appears to be a good fit for your site, but the ads don't look that great, and you doubt that anyone will click them. For this reason, it's a good idea to check out the available ads before joining. To view an advertiser's ads, click the Show Links button. Another page displays a list of the advertiser's available ads (see Figure 16).

Figure 16 Available ads.

The advertisements come in all shapes, sizes, and vehicles—banners, interactive links, and text links. Click one of the links in the Type column to view more information about that particular advertisement. For example, clicking the third Interactive Link in Figure 16 (offer number 1934751) displayed the Link Detail pop-up window shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17 Link Detail pop-up window for a particular ad.

If you haven't already joined the advertiser, this is your opportunity to join. Click the Join Program button if you want to join. Another window pops up to indicate whether you've been accepted or not (see Figure 18).

Figure 18 Automatic acceptance pop-up window.

Figure 18 shows the version for advertisers that automatically accept the applicant. Some advertisers prefer to review your site before accepting you, in which case the message you get after joining looks like Figure 19.

Figure 19 Pending review pop-up window.

You'll have to check the Current Merchant Partners section of the Affiliate Account Manager home page to see whether you've been accepted. Usually approval takes several days. Whatever pop-up window you get, click the Close button to return to the Link Detail window.

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