eBay Partner Network close accounts using shortened URLs

By Chris Dawson January 6, 2010 - 11:07 am

If you’re using the eBay Partner Network (ePN) affiliate program to make money don’t use URL shortening services such as or tinyurl. If you do they’ll kick you off the program.

My friend Barry just found this out to his cost and received an email terminating his account and reversing 100% of outstanding commissions. Apparently it’s a breech of the ePN as the user is redirected to an eBay page without their consent. Barry has also been told he’s not allowed to rejoin the ePN affiliate program in the future.

This does open up the question of users who put links onto sites such as twitter and other locations where the full URL needs to be displayed. As an example an ePN link to high value eBay for Charity auctions would be
, which is extremely unwieldy. This could be shortened to just 18 characters using a URL shortening service to That’s a link to the same eBay for Charity page (without the affiliate code so doesn’t break the agreement).

If you’re an ePN partner don’t use URL shortening services on your own website, and if you want to place a link on services such as Twitter make sure they’re not affiliate links. That shouldn’t be a problem if you’re manually posting, but if you use feed services that automatically shorten URLs you’ll be breaking the ePN agreement and risk your affiliate account being closed.

  • 12 years ago

    i wonder what they’ll think of and both of which allow you to put the eBay item number after the url and it takes you to your local eBay site. It’s not really ‘masking’ the destination url


    • 12 years ago

      Nice avatar, Mr :mrgreen:

      This is just another ridiculous example of eBay’s utterly shortsighted attitude to social media.
      Blogs with no external links? check.
      (effectively) no links on Twitter? check.

      SOMEONE in the company must get it, surely. Can we get Danny Chang out of eBay Motors and put him in charge of social media for the whole group? eBay have their heads firmly stuck in 1996 and unless they do something about it, they’re going to look ever more dinosaurish. Even more than they do now.

    • 12 years ago

      Sudha Jamthe does eBay’s Social Media strategy – I’ve asked if they can comment 🙂

  • 12 years ago

    This has been in the EPN Code of Conduct for some time, along with placement of affiliate links on third party websites. I’d be surprised if this was a new occurance.

    Personally I feel it is better to redirect to my own landing page anyway for the pre-sell, rather than straight into ebay. With the new QCP model, better targetting is much more preferable than just diluting EPC with unqualified clicks.

  • Helen
    12 years ago

    No ePN affiliate should be putting links that go direct to eBay on Twitter at all. For some months the rules have clearly said affiliates can only place links on sites they totally own and control.

    Even third party hosted sites that make use of WordPress, Blogger, Squidoo etc. cannot be used to host ePN affiliate links now.

    ePN also expect most traffic to arrive with accurate referal information (showing where the click originated from). URL shortening services usually strip referal info meaning ePN have no way of checking where the original click came from.

    It’s also worth pointing out that you cannot place ePN links on a website if the domain name contains “eBay” in it (e.g. Tamebay).

    Steve is right to point out that affiliates should now look to place links on any third party websites (or those with eBay in the domain name) that point to landing pages on their own affiliate websites displaying ePN links rather than go directly to eBay (or get auto-redirected by a short URL).

  • 12 years ago

    Thanks for the comments on this. I think I do need to point out that we did cover this policy change when it was made:

  • 12 years ago

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm !

    A 20 char link to the same target as Chris linked to, except the onclick result is in a removable frame :

    ergo – to set an ePN cookie you would have to click the page displayed in the frame, assuming the framed page was roverised of course (which in this example it isn’t)

  • Frank
    12 years ago

    So just to clarify, eBay is fine with someone “tweeting” about a particular ebay listing, but having the twitter link go to their own website, whereupon the visitor can click an EPN link that will go to eBay?

    That’s how I use twitter with EPN, and as far as I know that’s OK according to the terms. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Thanks

    • SinBad
      12 years ago

      That’s how I do it and I’m still getting money through the affiliation scheme.

  • 12 years ago

    Yep, thats fine as an extra click is required to set the ePN cookie – that extra click is actioned by the page reader.

    Much the same as a result, you have to click the ebay page to set the cookie, just reading/viewing a page displaying a framed ebay page does not set an ePN cookie.

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