What services does Rbate offer organizations that provide purchasing help?
f you are an organization that helps consumers and businesses make purchasing decisions, Rbate allows you to
Diversify your income sources. Get paid for your work beyond hard-to-sell subscriptions & up-front fees, poorly-paying advertising, and oft-bypassed affiliate links, and which, if you are a retailer, can supplement your direct sales income,
Get paid for work that you have syndicated or collaborated on,
Get paid for your general journalism as well as journalism that can help consumers,
Easily create automated advisors, which make it quick and easy for your users to find a product that would suit them best, and which allow you to get paid for providing this help,
Expose your work in a search engine dedicated to purchasing help,
Receive intelligence on how helpful each piece of your work has been to consumers,
Browse and search suggestions that consumers have submitted for particular product-related media and services,
Be able to include in your publications, and integrate into your work, the validated product reviews that consumers submit to Rbate following rebate claims and at other times,
Publish Rcodes, and add Rmark buttons to your webpages, allowing consumers to easily add your material and services to their Rbate Rmark databases, which contain their accumulated product research and preferred purchasing help services, and
Have the flexibility to be more selective about the advertising you accept, giving you better control over your users' experience.
Your organization may provide consumers with product information, evaluations, or recommendations (in the form of media or a service), product demonstration or product trial services (whether or not the products in question are being sold), or a complete purchasing service.
A full description of how Rbate works can be found here.
Am I eligible to apply to be a Rbate Helper?
Helping people choose the best product for their needs is a difficult job to do well, requiring the skill and the burden of the expert, the journalist, the whistleblower, and the consultant. An Rbate Helper that receives product-maker-funded bonuses after certain purchases have been made by those they help has the additional burden of ensuring that the anticipation of such payments does not corrupt the work they do.
Makers also have a right to expect that the bonuses they pay will lead to a greater interest in Helpers working with (though not necessarily recommending) their products, and also to overall improvements in the choice-assisting services available to the public in categories associated with the categories of products they make.
For these reasons Rbate only approves applications from Helpers that can satisfy Rbate they are professionally run and publicly offered.
Applications from individuals who only engage in self-help, or who only provide purchasing advice to friends, will not be approved. If you are such a person you may still be able to participate in Rbate by joining an aggregator of consumer-written reviews, or by joining or forming a professionally-managed reviewer, recommender, or demonstrator cooperative.
Stores are eligible if advice, demonstrations, or product trials are a significant part of your service.
You may also need to register as an Rbate Helper if you have been told by a supplier that one of the products which you sell will be accompanied by a Rbate Claim Code that needs to be activated at point-of-sale, or if you need to cancel rebates on returned items. Claim Code activation can either be done through a connection between your POS systems and Rbate's servers, or by visiting the Activations webpage in your Helper account. The latter is suitable for small retailers, and as a backup for larger retailers.
If you wish to apply to become a Rbate Helper, and believe your organization fulfils these criteria, please apply here.
If you do not wish to register with Rbate, or are not eligible to become a Rbate Helper, you can still put Rmark buttons on your webpages, allowing holders of Rbate consumer accounts to Rmark your site, perhaps gaining you a listing in Rbate's purchasing help search engine.
How do I get paid for my work?
First, you can continue to receive revenue from your existing sources, be they subscriptions, fees, advertising, or direct or affiliate sales. Note that you are permitted to use affiliate codes on the purchase links of any Rbate automated purchase advisor you offer.
Second, if you would like to charge, or continue to charge, consumers an up-front fee to access your material or to use your service, but the logistics of such a charge is difficult, or if you think that your full fee or subscription charge would turn away, or is turning away, too many users, you have the option to substitute or supplement your up-front fees with fees that users pay out of any Rbate rebates they subsequently receive. Rbate calls these deferred fees.
Third, even if you don't wish to charge a fee for your material or service, Rbate still allows you to be paid for your work:
When a product purchaser uses Rbate to claim a cash rebate from the product's maker, they are asked to list which sources of help assisted them with their purchasing decision. If you are a registered Rbate Helper, and one of your works or services (which Rbate calls Help Sources) is cited, or if a work by another Helper on which you collaborated is cited, you may be paid for that help in two ways:
The rebate claimer is given the option of donating some or all of their rebate to one or more of the sources that they have labelled as helpful on that purchase. Helpers can offer donors tiered acknowlegments or rewards for various aggregrate levels of donations plus deferred fee payments. You describe these rewards in the Donation/Deferred Fee fields of your Helper account profile.
Compared to website donation buttons which draw from the purchaser's existing funds, donations are more likely to be made in such circumstances. And being made with the consumer's own money, have few conflict-of-interest concerns. This can be a more viable method of charging users than either subscriptions, fees, or micro-payments.
The Rbate claim process also prompts claimers to donate to the creators of general topic material and services that the claimer has Rmarked as helpful. This provides another way for you to earn income from your general journalism. Like product-related help sources, potential donors are shown any rewards you offer to contributors.
Rbate credits donations your account after deducting an Rbate fee which is the lesser of 10.0% and $0.75 USD, distributing shares to any contributors, and making any necessary currency conversion to the currency of your Helper account.
If you have chosen on your Rbate account profile to receive bonus payments, a proportion of any helper bonus offered by the maker of the purchased product is credited to your Rbate account. This proportion is dependent on the level of help the consumer has nominated for your source (very helpful or helpful), the number of other sources cited, whether you chose to receive the full bonus or the category minimum, and the number of external contributors associated with your source.
Other than any necessary currency conversion fee, Rbate does not deduct any fee from bonus payments.
Because Rbate makes it possible for you to get paid when you help someone, no matter whether it was online or offline, and whether or not you mediated a sale, you might like to consider expanding your repertoire of material and services. For example, net, phone, or face-to-face consulting if you're a reviewer, or purchase advisors if you're a consultant. Such personalized service is already drawing more and more shoppers to online forums to obtain information and advice from peers — information and advice which has often been distilled from professional sources.
If you run a discussion forum, or allow users to add comments to your pieces, Rbate allows you to add Rmark buttons to individual contributions or contribution threads. If one of these provide a purchaser with helpful advice or information, you may receive a donation or a bonus payment. Because Rbate provides you with a breakdown of income per contribution, you have the option to distribute some of this income to your commenters. Further information on Rmarking of user submissions can be found here.
If instead, a community you organize cooperates to create a normal Help Source, such as a purchase advisor, you should place a normal Rmark button on such sources, and keep your own record of contributing users. Rbate can only automatically distribute payments to contributors who are registered Rbate Helpers.
Rbate pays your earnings monthly in the currency of your choice, as long as your balance exceeds the equivalent of $20.00 USD. Recipients who are registered for Australian Goods & Services Tax must choose to be paid in Australian Dollars.
When Rbate must perform a currency exchange it uses the daily reference rates of the European Central Bank, plus a 2.5% risk spread.
What are deferred fees?
Deferred fees allow you to charge people a fee for using your material or service, without turning people away by either charging the fee up-front or requiring them to later dip into their wallets.
To charge a uniform deferred fee for using a help source, enter a currency amount and tick the deferred fee box on that help source's form on the Sources Page of your Helper account. You can also leave the deferred fee amount unspecified, which is useful when you offer varying levels of service (you specify the fee for each provision of service via either the API or on the Add Rmarks Page of your account).Consumers who on a rebate claim cite this help source as helpful or very helpful for that purchase (via an Rmark either you have created for them or which they have added themselves), are shown the deferred fee you've requested for the help they've acknowledged, and are asked to enter the fee they wish to pay. This is deducted from their current rebate claim, and, if necessary, any future claims, until the fee is fully paid. If a claimer chooses to pay less than the fee you requested they are asked to enter a reason, which you can view.
Just like donations, you can encourage payment of fees by offering tiered acknowlegments or rewards to contributors (various aggregrate levels of donations plus deferred fee payments). You describe these rewards in the Donation/Deferred Fee fields of your Helper account profile. This is displayed to claimers when they must decide on the fee they wish to pay.
In these ways deferred fees are like suggested donations.
Note that if a given consumer cites the same non-dynamic help source as helpful on a subsequent claim, they won't be prompted to pay the deferred fee. Non-dyamic help sources are defined as all media sources except for automated advisors. All other sources can earn multiple deferred fees from a given consumer, for example from separate sessions of a retail assistance service.
If a help source charges a deferred fee the amount will be displayed on that source's listing on Rbate's purchasing help search engine. But it's also good practice to warn users of any deferred fee on the material itself or at the service location. Because payment of deferred fees is voluntary, this is not essential.
Rbate credits deferred fees your account after deducting an Rbate fee which is the lesser of 10.0% and $0.75 USD, distributing shares to any contributors, and making any necessary currency conversion to the currency of your Helper account.
What are the advantages of listing my work in the purchasing help search engine?
While consumers sometimes browse review material, and make use of demonstration services while browsing store displays, consumers more often seek help as part of directed research. So while there is an audience for material released to a publishing or broadcasting schedule, and services can be used on an ad-hoc basis, a greater audience is supplied by search. Consumers also use search to discover news sources that they wish to follow.
However vendor search tools like the Yellow Pages mix helpers (publishers, full-service retailers, and consultants) with no-service vendors and product makers. General search engines do the same.
Rbate's purchasing help search engine only returns sources of purchasing help. A consumer can specify the exact types of help they're looking for, and can easily narrow their search by product category and location, allowing them to prefer help that is either located nearby or deals with products that are locally available.
What are the advantages of using product maker rebates & bonuses to help fund my enterprise? How does Rbate help preserve the integrity and reputation of my organization?
Summary: Maker rebates & bonuses are a more practical means of funding your work than user fees, and are associated with a lower conflict of interest, better disclosure, a more reliable income stream, and a better user experience than either advertising or direct or affiliate sales. A detailed discussion follows.
To provide a high-quality service you need a source of revenue, but subscription revenue is hard, and is becoming harder, to come by. This is particularly true for choice-assisting services, which always cover a limited range of products, meaning that a given consumer will only want to refer to that material, or use that service, intermittently.
And while prospective purchasers of complex or expensive products are often prepared to pay up-front consultancy fees, this is not the case for many types of consumer and small-business products.
Advertising is the most common revenue alternative, but that is becoming less reliable as busy and bombarded consumers increasingly ignore ads, or use technologies such as digital video recorders and on-line blockers to actively bypass ads. As a result you don't and won't get paid for a growing proportion of the information you provide.
The general move of just about everything to an ad-funded model has spread the limited pool of advertising dollars more thinly. To boost advertising revenue you may have had to make advertising more distracting than you would have liked, perhaps through heavy use of pagination, or have had to risk the independence of your service by accepting advertising directly from product makers.
You also miss out on a lot of affiliate sales revenue when consumers don't purchase via your affiliate links after using your website (or doesn't enter the right promotional code during their purchase), instead making purchases either offline (which dominates retail), from a different vendor, through an affiliate link of another helper, or after your tracking cookie is destroyed or expires.
Fee recovery through supplier-funded bonuses is already a well established funding model for mortgage, insurance, travel, and investment brokers. However Rbate improves on this by
Allowing fees to also be paid from a consumer's rebate payment, either as a donation or a deferred fee,
Eliminating the need for the helper to be part of the sales process, allowing a consumer to be assisted by multiple helpers (choice agents) on a given purchase,
Eliminating the need for direct contact between product suppliers and the organizations that evaluate their products,
Allowing a helper to choose what information they wish to know about the bonuses on offer, whether they wish to be paid via bonus, and if so, in what way,
Publicly exposing these choices and an optional editorial policy statement, and
Giving a helper more flexibility in how they respond to the availability of a bonus, instead of simply refusing to provide advice about products that do not carry bonuses.
In many product categories Rbate bonuses will be offered for many alternative products. So even if, say, you gave a particular product that attracts a Rbate helper bonus a negative review, you could still receive a payment for the help you provided to a consumer if, based on your advice, they ultimately purchased either an alternative product or an alternative type of product that also attracted a Rbate rebate or bonus. In this respect Rbate bonuses are no different to revenue gained through affiliate links, assuming that the affiliate relationships are clearly disclosed, and are available for a wide range of products. (But so many affiliate links make your site unsightly.)
You would also receive a bonus following a negative review of a product if a consumer, after proceeding to purchase that product, cited your review, and possibly others, as helpful in assessing the pros and cons of the alternatives.
An advantage of payment through rebates & bonuses is that it separates the provision of consumer purchasing assistance from the selling process. Compared to a normal store, a service dedicated to and funded by consumer help can provide advice on a wider range of products, put more effort into services such as product demonstrations, and provide the consumer with a low-pressure experience, being unconcerned if the consumer eventually purchases from a low-price no-service vendor.
Unlike affiliate sales, you can receive a bonus when a rebate claimer cites your work as helpful, no matter where the sale was made, and even if you were only one of several helpers that the purchaser consulted. You no longer have to interpose yourself in the sales process, which can give the appearance of compromising your independence.
Moreover, bonuses are likely to be of a higher value than affiliate payments. This is because affiliate payments are triggered whenever a purchaser passes through a link during some period prior to their purchase. This link may have had little bearing on the purchaser's ability to find and ultimately choose that product. Affiliate payments must ultimately reflect the average level of service rendered, which will be low because many affiliates just spam and tend link-gardens, from which providers of high-quality information and advice can't differentiate themselves.
Income from rebates & bonuses can also allow evaluation products to be purchased, avoiding (possibly specially-selected) manufacturer samples.
If one of your media offerings merely provides consumers with information, you can use income from rebates & bonuses to reduce or eliminate the amount of advertising shown to users. For example, you may offer users a respected ad-free information database or news feed in particular product categories, allowing your users to reduce their reliance on advertising for such knowledge and awareness, and allowing you to take more control of what your users see and hear.
You can initially use income from rebates & bonuses merely to supplement your current advertising, fee, and affiliate income, only scaling back your advertising and link displays if the income they generate no longer compensates for the reductions in goodwill and user experience that they bring.
How is Rbate superior to affiliate programs?
Rbate is the first affiliate-type system that allows you to realise the full value of the help you give your users:
It's all about helping rather than selling.
How can I determine whether a bonus offer is worth pursuing?
The bonus offers you can view via your Rbate Helper account are firm, with a known expiry date, before which the product maker cannot reduce the bonus amount. In addition, Rbate mandates a minimum per-claim bonus in each category of product, preventing very small bonus offers from cluttering offer lists.
The Offers Page also displays data on the number of bonuses available (either per product/offer or per product category, depending on your visibility settings), the number that have already been paid, and how reliably each maker converts claim codes into claims and bonus payments. This allows you to evaluate whether it's worth pursuing a bonus by maintaining or increasing your coverage of the product or product categories in question.
How can I be alerted to new products and bonuses in our field of work?
You can choose to be emailed when bonuses are added or changed in your area of interest by checking the "Notify me of new bonus offers" box on your Profile Page.
What control do I have over the operation of Maker bonuses, and how are these choices made public?
Use your account Profile Page to control what you wish to know about Maker bonuses on offer. You can hide them completely, only see a list of product categories in which bonuses are offered, see a list of products offering bonuses, but with hidden bonus amounts, or see individual bonuses and their levels. Choose whatever option is compatible with your organization's policies, as well as an option which your reputation can support. You may like to hide more information if you're just starting out.
You can also control how the bonuses you earn are paid.
You can opt to not receive any bonus payments, which does not prevent you from receiving donations, deferred fees, credit points, listings in Rbate's purchasing help search engine, and feedback on the relative value of your work. Do this if for the present time you wish to continue to derive your income from fees, ads, or sales.
Otherwise, you can choose to be paid either the full bonus on offer or the lowest bonus offered over all products in the same market (the combination of product category and product availability region), with a hard lower limit of the minimum permissible bonus that Rbate has set for each category of product. Choose the minimum bonus payment option if you feel that knowledge of the variations in bonuses between products, and payment of these different amounts following claims on different products, could distort, or give the impression of distorting, the work you do.
Whether you choose to receive the full bonus or a uniform minimum bonus in a given product market, you are permitted to do what some mortgage, investment, and insurance brokers do and opt to only cover or stock those products that offer a bonus that will be not less than a given amount over a sufficiently long period. This is usually only advisable if several products are simultaneously offering bonuses in that market. If you do limit your work in this way you must indicate this fact in your editorial policy statement (see below). Such disclosure is not compulsory if higher bonus offers are simply used to direct more resources to different products, improving training, analysis, or presentation, as long as bonus levels do not affect the results, conclusions, and recommendations you offer.
Both your bonus visibility and bonus payments choices are displayed to users of Rbate's purchasing help search engine when they click on the "Policies" link that accompanies each of your sources returned as search results. Such a link is also displayed on consumer Rmarks.
You can choose to append an editorial policy statement to the policy information that consumers see. This can explain your bonus visibility and bonus payment choices, as well as other company policies that relate to bonus and editorial decisions. So just as the absence of any need to deal directly with makers protects you independence, your editorial policy statement allows you to proclaim it.
You can add and edit your policy statement via your Profile Page.
How do consumers remember who helped them?
What is an Rmark?
When consumers use Rbate to make a post-purchase claim for a cash rebate, they're asked to cite the Help Sources that helped them come to that purchasing decision. They do this by selecting one or more sources from that subset of their Rmarks which are relevant to the claim product.
To allow your Help Sources to be added to the collection of Rmark bookmarks that consumers accumulate in their Rbate accounts, you need to either provide an Rmark button or link with each source, allowing consumers to Rmark that source themeslves, or obtain a consumer's email address and add the Rmark for them. Instructions on the various options for allowing the various types of online and offline media and service Help Sources to be Rmarked can be found here.
What are the consequences of being cited by a consumer during a rebate claim?
Whether or not you choose to get paid for the help you provide to consumers, claim citations add to your sources' claim credit numbers. A source's credit number has a large influence on the order in which results are returned on searches made on Rbate's purchasing help search engine.
The credit rankings of each of your sources, relative to others in its product category, and to all other Rbate Help Sources, are displayed as percentage point values in the source's data row on the Sources Page of your account. You can use this to evaluate the relative effectiveness of each of your sources.
What is the "contributor" system?
In order to properly reward all work that contributes to a source of purchasing help, and to encourage collaboration, it is possible to attribute some of a source's bonus, donation, deferred fee, and claim credit earnings to other sources in the Rbate system.
These other sources may be your own, allowing you to attribute both articles to their authors and new work to earlier work. This makes it easier to assess the relative contribution (and absolute Rbate earnings) of each of your works and employees. Note that credit fractions assigned under an authorship relationship do not draw down the credit and earnings shown for the source source, while fractions assigned to other works is reapportioned. Contribution chains several levels deep are possible, and will be properly considered when credit and bonus payments are being divided.
You may also assign fractions of a source's credit and earnings to external sources that belong to other Helpers by entering the contributing source's Rcode in the Contributors field of your source's form. Do this if your source is based in part on this other source. For example, if you are creating a review which is a digest of other reviews.
If an external source adds one of your sources as a contributor, that source will appear in the Contributes To column of your source's row in the sources table on your Sources Page. Use this to verify that the other Helper is abiding by any contribution deal that has been arranged.
One place to look for such opportunities is through searches made on Rbate's purchasing help search engine. If you see another source that you would like to draw on for your own work, or if you think that the creator of a source could make use of your work, then look for a Licensing Enquiries link in that search result that allows you to forward an email to the licensing manager of the content in question. Set your own licensing enquiries email address on your Profile Page.
What are Rbate automated purchase advisors?
Shoppers find it hard work to research a purchase by consuming media. They must track down not only the most important general points, but also information about the product features that are most relevant to their particular circumstances. They would prefer personal service from a category expert (which often draws shoppers to online forums to obtain advice from peers), but personal service is often too difficult or too expensive for professionals to provide, even for full-service retailers.
Registered Rbate Helpers are given an easy alternative: a simple way to create automated purchase advisors (Expert Systems). Advisors can either be embedded in the Helper's own website (optionally using a custom stylesheet), or Helpers can simply point users to a Rbate.com page dedicated to their advisor.
Rbate purchase advisors use a survey-like interview that asks the user a series of questions to determine their circumstances and preferences. Which questions are asked can vary depending on earlier answers.
Helpers can choose one of three ways in which a completed interview is processed into a recommendation: (1), making contact with the user after a manual assessment, (2), automatic assessment by the Helper's own web-app through a callback that contains validated interview answers, or (3), automatic assessment by uploaded script.
This last method allows Helpers to create complete automated advice systems by writing scripts that define products, product features, and rules for ranking both of these based on interview answers. The user is then presented with a product-feature matrix that's ranked top-down by product and left-right by feature. Each product can have a link to a nominated URL, such as a review on the Helper's site, or a manufacturer's information page, and each can include one or more links that allow the user to purchase that product at a particular vendor.
To facilitate donation and bonus payments when a user has found an advisor helpful, an Rmark button is automatically included on the results page of script-type advisors. Helpers should add the Rmark button HTML to the results page of custom-type providers, and users of manual-type advisors should be provided with either an Rmark button or the advisor's Rcode.
Shoppers will actively seek out these advisors because they give them comprehensive but easy-to-digest personalized information with a minimum of effort. If you're a retailer you can attract customers by placing advisors on your website. You can also make advisors available in-store, which eases your staffing requirements, and allows you to leverage the expertise of your top staff. Publications which mainly carry expert-level material can use advisors to broaden their audience to include shoppers who do not have expert knowledge in the publication's product areas.
What can Helpers do with Rbate's consumer-written reviews?
Rbate accepts reviews of products from consumers.
Reviews are accepted anytime, but Rbate also contacts rebate recipients some time after their claim, inviting them to review their experiences with the product they bought. These reviews are specially marked as coming from validated purchasers.
Registered Rbate Helpers are able to both search these reviews and receive feeds of reviews that match particular product categories or search terms. Helpers are given a full licence to use these reviews in their work, either as unedited review collections or edited digests, or they may simply be used to inform.
Helpers can greatly enhance the quality of the advice they offer by tracking the real-world performance of the products with which they deal.
How can I use Rbate to request review samples from product makers?
If you wish to obtain a review sample of a product that is returned by a search on Rbate's product search engine, look for the Request Info/Sample link in the right-hand-side bar. If present, click this to email your sample enquiry to the product's maker.
How can prevent Rbate from indexing my site's content?
So that brief excerpts can be shown in search results, Rbate may attempt to spider and index webpages of registered sources, as well as webpages which consumers have placed in their Rmarks. If you wish use a robots.txt file or robots meta tag to prevent this, the User-agent name of the Rbate spider is "Rbot".