EBay partner network

eBay Affiliate Program Review


Is the eBay affiliate program worth your attention?

For those of you short on time the answer is probably not.

Below I lay out my reasons why.

What is eBay

EBay is an online marketplace where buyers and sellers can trade pretty much any product that you could care to think of.

Auctionweb as the business was known back in 1995 is now a $10 billion a year company known to everyone as eBay.

I used to use eBay a fair amount but as it is now merely seen as another sales channel by most companies, I tend to ignore the site.

It used to be a great place to go to find items that weren’t available anywhere else but now around 80% of the products are brand-new. For me it has become a poor man’s Amazon.

As its original name suggests it started out as an auction format but started offering the “buy it now” option as far back as 2000. This has some bearing on how you will earn via the affiliate program.

What can you Promote

EBay homepage

Since eBay carries pretty much every type of product there is almost no limit to what you can promote. Bear in mind though that you will need to create an affiliate link to the product which you are promoting.

There is little point trying to promote products that are being sold piecemeal by someone clearing their garage. You really need to pick products being sold by businesses in large quantities.

How to Join the Affiliate Program

It’s very easy for affiliate marketers to sign up to eBay’s program or the eBay Partner Network to give it its correct name.
Assuming you already have an eBay account then just go to the eBay homepage and click on ‘affiliates’ in the footer. You will be prompted to sign in again and then you can fill out a form to apply for access to the program.

If you are accepted onto the program then you can use your eBay partner network account to generate your affiliate links. You will also be able to view your progress regarding commissions you have earned and create banners for advertising.

Terms & Conditions

EBay affiliate program review

Before signing up you need to be aware that the cookie duration for eBay is about a short as it gets. A mere 24 hours. So in order for you to receive a commission someone would need to follow your link and make a buy it now purchase within 24 hours. Alternatively if it was an auction then after clicking on your link they would need to make a bid within 24 hours and win the auction within 10 days.

As with most other affiliate marketing programs there are a number of rules you will have to follow.
Firstly you need to make it clear that you are an affiliate for eBay. This is an FTC requirement anyway so not really an issue as such just something to be aware of.

EBay also doesn’t want to be associated with certain types of websites. If you’re thinking about promoting eBay listings from your gambling or firearms website then you ought to think again!

You can choose to receive your payouts via PayPal or electronic funds transfer.

Commission Structure

Commission structure

EBay has received a lot of negative feedback recently as they have trimmed their commission structures in a similar manner to Amazon.

Obviously you need to remember that you are effectively getting a cut of eBay’s fees for the sale. What this means to you is you are never going to see enormous commission levels since eBay’s fees will only be a percentage of the value of the sale.

At the time of writing the best categories for you to promote based on their percentages would be clothing, health and beauty, jewelry and motors. They all earn 4% along with any other category not explicitly listed on the commission structure.

If you’re not paying attention then you may not notice that each category also has a limit per transaction. Some of those limits are as low as $100.

This means in the unlikely event you were to sell an expensive item through your link then you may not get quite as much commission as you might have anticipated.

You are credited for any sales 30 days later.

Creatives from eBay

EBay does score quite well in this department with a number of alternatives. You can even create your own banners.


  • eBay is a trusted brand.
  • The sheer volume and variety of products you can promote.
  • Low payout threshold. You don’t need to be earning hundreds of dollars a month in order to receive payout.
  • Affiliate marketing tools provided.
  • Custom banners. You can generate custom banners for your website.
  • Full-time affiliate marketing team.
  • Deep Linking.


  • Only a 24-hour cookie.
  • The program is only available in a limited number of countries. Not a problem for everyone admittedly but still annoying if you’re on the outside looking in.

How Could you use eBay

The short cookie duration is the biggest problem. I would limit myself to creating affiliate marketing content around products available using buy it now. Avoid auctions as most people won’t bid till the last minute so you have little chance of earning a commission.

I would also avoid going for more expensive items. While they may seem a more attractive option given the low rates of commission it is likely that people will want to do a significant amount of research before a purchase. With only a 24 hour cookie there is a good chance they won’t complete the purchase in time as they will be looking for additional information on the item.

Conversely you can’t focus on the cheapest products as you won’t earn enough commission for it to be worth your marketing efforts. You need to find a sweet spot in the middle where the commission is going to be reasonable and the conversion rate is high enough to justify the effort.

eBay Versus the Competition

I suppose the most obvious comparison would be with Amazon Associates. In terms of the commission payouts they are both very low. If you are choosing between the two I would probably go for Amazon as I think that probably has a higher level of trust with buyers than eBay. You also have Amazon Prime which is a wonderful tool that Amazon uses to leverage more purchases from their customers.

Earnings would potentially be much higher with digital or software products as they pay much higher commissions. Arguably they are more competitive though!

eBay Affiliate Program Review: Conclusion

The very short cookie window in combination with low rates of commission make it difficult to recommend the eBay partner program. I’m also not keen on the payout caps. While it is unlikely that you would hit them very often it is another reason to put you off from even trying to make a go of this particular affiliate offer.

The fundamental problem with all affiliate programs promoting physical goods is that they tend to have low or extremely low commission rates.

This might mean there is somewhat less competition but that in itself should tell you that the rewards might not be worth the effort involved.


Related: Affiliate Marketing as a Beginner