All About Datafeeds

What is a datafeed?

A datafeed is an organized, machine-readable list of the products in your online store. There are several acceptable formats for this data, including comma-separated values (csv), tab-delimited, XML, and pipe-delimited. A datafeed typically includes product information such as name, sku, category, buy link, image, etc. A number of these fields are required in every AvantLink datafeed, as detailed below.

Why do I need one?

Datafeeds drive many of the tools that AvantLink provides to Affiliates. Maintaining a high-quality datafeed is a great way to ensure that your product information is being accurately delivered to our publishers, which allows them to create targeted, higher-converting ads. Put simply, affiliates need access to accurate, up-to-date product information in order to effectively advertise your products to their audiences. Datafeeds provide that information.

How do I set up my datafeed?

AvantLink accepts datafeeds according to Google’s Product Feed Specifications. It should be noted where the Google Shopping feed specs don't require category information for all products, AvantLink DOES in the form of 'product_type' or 'google_product_category'.

Minimum Required Fields:

  • SKU
  • Product Name
  • Long Description
  • Department
  • Image URL
  • Buy Link (product detail page URL)
  • Retail Price

However, the above fields are only the bare minimum. The more information you can provide to affiliates the more creative and effective they can be with their ads. Optional datafeed fields include (but are not limited to):

  • Brand Name
  • Brand Logo Image
  • Brand URL
  • Category
  • Sub-Category
  • Sale Price
  • Product Reviews
  • Short Description
  • Keywords

For AvantLink to automatically retrieve and update the datafeed on a daily basis, a location to access the datafeed file is required. This can be either an HTTP download URL or an FTP server location. Username/password combinations can be included in the datafeed location, as long as no manual user intervention is required. AvantLink can provide a server location for you to upload your data. Contact integration@avantlink.com for help with that.

Once you have your feed properly formatted and uploaded, simply provide your integration specialist with the URL/FTP location and we will take care of the rest!

What are some best practices for creating a quality datafeed?

Many affiliates rely heavily on merchant datafeeds to produce effective ads and power other tools that help them drive traffic and convert sales. Therefore, a high-quality datafeed can provide a significant boost to your affiliate program's ROI. Here are a few tips on how to make your datafeeds as effective and useful to affiliates as possible:

Include a Sale Price

Many affiliates search for and display only products that are discounted from their normal retail price. Including a sale price will ensure that your products are not overlooked by those affiliates, as well as provide them with a competitive price to display to their viewers.

Populate as many columns as possible

Generally, it's a good idea to provide as many of the "optional" columns as you can in your datafeed. The more information is available to affiliates, the easier it is for them to build creative, targeted ads that are more likely to convert. GTIN/UPC are particularly useful additions, as they allow affiliates to compare products across datafeeds.

Keep tabs on affiliate usage

It's a good idea to be aware of how many/which affiliates are actively using your datafeed. That way you will know what the impact may be to your program of making changes to or improving the quality of your feed.  You can access this information from your merchant account under Tools > Datafeed Administration.

Create specialty feeds

Many merchants, especially those who carry many products, create "specialty feeds" that contain only a subset of their products. This can be useful for affiliates who are interested in displaying only a certain type of goods or to help you (the merchant) organize a very large inventory into smaller, more manageable datasets.  You can create specialty feeds by logging into your merchant account, going to Tools > Datafeed Administration, and then click on [Create a New Specialty Feed].  You will be asked to name the feed and enter the SKUs of the products that you want to include.  Then, just click "Submit"!

How do I maintain my datafeed?

Once you have your datafeed set up, it is a good idea to check in from time to time and make sure that any changes you may have made have not impacted the viability of your feed. Any changes you make to the URL or structure of the data (e.g., adding, removing, or renaming a column) must be brought to our attention (support@avantlink.com) so that we can make corresponding changes on the back end.

To access your merchant datafeed interface, from your Merchant Admin home screen, click on "Tools" in the navigation bar, then scroll down and click on Datafeed Administration (this direct link requires you to be logged in).

Be sure to take a look at the "Last Updated" and "Last Actual Change" columns in this interface. Our servers automatically attempt to process datafeeds every night. If your datafeed fails to process for some reason, one or both of these columns may stop updating. If you notice this, contact support@avantlink.com.

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If you want to immediately update your datafeed with new products, you can trigger a manual update using the MerchantTriggerDatafeedUpdate module of the AvantLink API. You will need an API Key to make this request, so contact support@avantlink.com if you have not yet been assigned one. For more information on using this API module, click here.

If you have any questions please contact support@avantlink.com for help.

Click here for legacy AvantLink datafeed specifications.

Please Note: If you make changes to your datafeed, it's very important to let us know! Once we pull your datafeed, we have to make some transformations to it, and if you change that, we may not be able to update your datafeed.

Recap
  • Datafeeds are a machine-readable list of products that is required by AvantLink and helps affiliates drive sales.
  • Datafeeds must be in one of the following formats: XML, Pipe-Delimited, Tab-Delimited, Comma Separated Values.
  • Datafeeds must include the following fields: SKU, Product Name, Long Description, Category, Image URL, Buy Link (product detail page URL), Retail Price
  • Datafeeds should be checked for errors, from time to time, and support@avantlink.com should be immediately notified of any structural changes to your feed.
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