On my most recent project, Coupon Crop, I’ve been spending a lot of time working with data feeds from mainstream affiliate networks like Share A Sale, AvantLink, OneNetworkDirect, Linkshare, and several other affiliate programs. Of those, most have been incredibly easy and enjoyable to work with. Share A Sale, however, has stood out from the crowd, but not in a good way. Their data feeds are a developer’s nightmare. Let me a share a few reasons why.
- There is no way to limit the number of entries handed to my program based on date. With many of the networks mentioned above, we’re given the option to only retrieve links and information that have been added or edited since the date we specify. This is a great feature because it allows me to retrieve the newest information each day without having to sift through information that you processed the day before. Instead of having to sift through thousands of entries, you can see only the newest ones. This creates a much smaller process for my server to handle and a much smaller process for their server in handing mine the information.
- Their data feed delivers expired information. On our project, we are specifically looking for coupon information. With coupons, many of them have expiration dates. Once those dates have passed, the coupon and the information associated with it is useless. The purpose of a data feed is to allow a certain level of automation. With that in mind, what is the point of delivering expired coupon data through their data feed?
- Their titles and descriptions are worthless. This is the biggest, most painful issue to deal with from this company. Many of the titles of the coupons are identical to their descriptions. I have to write specific code to ignore these redundancies. Many others are written with no grasp of the English language. When this happens, they provide no information about the product being promoted or do so in a way that no normal English speaker could ever understand. With many of the other companies, they have oversight of the information they allow merchants to put into their feed and review each item for quality.
Here’s an example title for one of the coupons in their system:
That’s not the coupon code. That’s the title that displays when someone views the coupon information. It is beyond worthless. It doesn’t relay any information to a potential consumer. What am I supposed to do with that? Here’s an example of a good title that can be supported with a quality description, the name of the retailer alongside it, and a link to find more information.
Take $10 off $55 or more
When working with an automated feed, the only way that it can be of any use is that it provide quality information in a quality format. Share A Sale fails to do that on all fronts.
This is sad because many of the merchants in their program are excellent companies, but many others are not and they’re dragging down the quality of the system. As a member of more than 500 affiliate programs, I rely on these affiliate networks to provide consistent, high quality information. Most of these companies do a terrific job at doing exactly that. Share A Sale is, without question, the weakest link.