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When affiliate datafeeds first came on to the scene, there weren't many options for affiliates to display this data. There was a ton of data, but not too many affiliate tools at the time to display it. Some of the big affiliate sites at the time, like Pricegrabber, had the technology, but for the average affiliate there wasn't much around in the way of datafeed scripts.

Nowadays there are a ton of datafeed tools: RSS feeds and import scripts to add datafeeds to affiliate shopping sites, blogs, etc...

Today you can build a giant affiliate site in minutes, but Google will laugh at you and you will get zero traffic. By creating an affiliate site that does not contain original product descriptions or tons of original product reviews, you are wasting your time. Things were alot different in 2003-2005, thin affiliate sites were on the radar, but you could get tons of traffic before Google would slap the site down.

Some of the first "affiliate datafeed in a box tools" that were available at the time were traffic splits. Which meant the script provider would switch your affiliate code with their code every however many impressions and you have to share 25% of your traffic with them.

Massage the Data

An affiliate datafeed is basically just a flat text database file that you download from the merchant.

Some of these feeds contain your affiliate ID in the product link, but more often than not these feeds will either have a placeholder (INSERT_AFFILIATE_ID_HERE) or require adding on the tracking link to the beginning of the merchants url encoded product link (flexible linking). Either way you can get the data ready to go by manipulating the data via Excel functions or an awesome find and replace tool.

If you are planning on mixing datafeeds from different merchants, you need to match up the fields of all the datafeeds and sync them together so the product links, descriptions, etc... of the feeds are all in the same format for output. Basically make sure all the columns of all the feeds like product link, product description, etc... will match up in an Excel spreadsheet.

Once your feed files are ready to go, you need a way to display this data on your site(s).


With no tools available at the time and not wanting to share my traffic,  I needed to come up with another plan.

I started searching for a way to display these datafeeds and build some affiliate sites. My search ended when I found Rilax.

RiLax is a flattext database search engine. Script does not require any database, index is stored in efficient format to allow fast search even for large databases (100000+ records).

When they say this thing is fast, they mean it. I could not choke this thing. Wicked simple to configure. You put your files in a data folder and have the script create an  index. It indexes your flat text data files into a binary format. Once the files are indexed, it can search and display the results at breakneck speed.

So with a couple installs of Rilax and a handfull of PHP includes, a datafeed driven network of affiliate sites was born.


There really wasn't much longevity. The sites would do well for a month or six and then they would be slapped because of a spam report. So burn and churn was the game. Set up a new domain, upload the scripts, change the template, rinse and repeat...

Google eventually  employed quality raters (Word .doc) and affiliate datafeed sites were nuked very quickly. They changed their algorithm and to this day "thin affiliate sites" are on Google's filter hit list.

Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

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