Part Two – PAD Files
This is the second part of a series of blog posts about making the affiliate sales channel bring revenue to software vendors. In the first post I focused on the importance of the affiliates information page and how it helps you recruit affiliates. In this post, I will talk about another important component of the affiliate sales channel optimization process: PAD Files.
PAD Files – what are they good for?
Short for Portable Application Description, PAD files are special XML format files that contain information about a software product, from software vendor contact data to product description and price.
The main plus point of PAD files as a standard in the software industry is they offer a more simple way for webmasters to automate product listings, without having to manually edit every minor change the software vendor makes to the product price or description. This works best especially when dealing with download portals which aggregate lots of software titles.
Here’s a big list with the software download portals that accept software submission by PAD files – you can see there are big names involved there, like Download.com, Softpedia, Softonic, Brothersoft or Tucows. So, here are the benefits PAD files have to offer from the software vendor – affiliates relationship point of view:
- they offer a more convenient way for affiliates to list a vendor’s products by including all the product details in a single standard file and by offering the possibility to automate product listings. This way, affiliates can focus on promoting your products rather than checking if anything has changed in the description or price of the product.
- they are an important source of content for affiliate websites, having product descriptions, product images, multi language details and other elements that are important for a successful pre-sales campaign.
- if any trial versions are available, they can boost a software product’s download count, thus increasing the exposure of that product.
- since trial downloads are tracked in many affiliate networks, affiliates will be credited with the sales they refer through trial downloads from their websites.
How does it work?
It’s very simple:
- the software author creates / edits the PAD file with product information: description, contact information, license type, supported platforms, price etc.
- the webmaster of the affiliate website (download portal or any kind of website) uses the URL of the PAD file (whether published on the vendor’s website or submitted) and parses the XML format file to get the information he wants to display.
- every time the software vendor edits something in the PAD file, the information will usually be automatically updated on all the affiliates’ websites using the URL of the PAD file as a source for displaying the product information.
How to create / edit a PAD file?
This is the more hands-on part of this post. We’ve seen what the advantages of using PAD files are – now let’s get busy. In order to be able to create a PAD file, you have to download a PAD file editor – they’re available free on the Internet. I recommend the latest version of the PADGen tool, available on the ASP Shareware website. After you install it on your computer, just follow the next steps:
- Run the PADGen application; you will get the “Company Info” section. Fill in the Company Information fields – see example below.
- Fill in the Program Information and Descriptions. Enter the program name, version, release date, type, category and other options on the “Program Info” screen. Then, in the “Descriptions” section, you can enter multiple descriptions (sorted by length) in multiple languages (English is default).
- Set the Web Information and enter the text of the Distribution / End User Agreements. In the “Web Info” screen, enter the URLs for the product information page, order page etc. In the “Permissions” tab, enter the text of the Distribution and End User License Agreements.
- Enter the Affiliates information – this is one of the most important part of the PAD file for your affiliates, because they can easily sign up in your affiliate program. It also contains a link to your affiliates information page. You can usually get the information required here in your Control Panel. If not, you should contact your account manager. Be sure the “Include this Extension into PAD File” option is checked! If you use another PAD editor, the Affiliates extension might not be available – you need do download that extension.
- Verify, generate and sign PAD File according to the options set in the “Build Options” tab of PADGen. Should any errors occur, you will be notified by the application. If you use another PAD editor, be sure it has a validation tool included; if not, you can use the PAD Validator tool on the Avangate website.
I have a PAD file. Now what?
First of all, make sure the URL to the PAD file is available on your website, inside the affiliates info page.
Secondly, to get some results, start submitting the PAD files to download websites – you can use our PAD Promoter, it’s free. Or, if you want to save time, you can use professional software submission services.