Google Hates Affiliates? Apparently Not, as Google is Launching a CPA Affiliate Network

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Looks like Google is going to dip their paws into affiliate marketing. Philipp Lesson pointed to SeekingAlpha's post about Google's new beta test affiliate network.

Google's affiliate network will start off as being something separate to the AdSense network with its own ad units.

As an affiliate I like being able to blend the ads into the content AND to have control over the ads. How do publishers write optimal converting content if they are uncertain what ads will even be shown? It is far easier to sell a click than a purchase, so I am not sure how much value Google adds on this front.

Is Google someone you would want to run your affiliate program through? There are so many potential downsides (too much dependence on a single partner at too many points in your business, offering too much business intelligence to competitors, etc.) Thoughts?

Comments

Linda said: Google offers a

Linda said:

Google offers a little piece of enticement to Adsense publishers by saying: "Since this is a test and these CPA ads are not regular ad units, we are giving you more flexibility in saying things like “I recommend this product” or “Try JetBlue today” next to the CPA ad unit."

I think it probably works best if the publisher gets to chose entirely what the ad link says.

Affiliate advertising

One of the problems w/dealing with an entity the size of google is they have the Burger King syndrome. They want it their way. Do you really want somebody like google to have a controlling say in your advertising?

It's only a test OR is Google really taking over the world?

Aaron, I sent you the link to my blog earlier and hoped I could be the one to scoop the story here. A couple things I mentioned in my affiliate blog about it earlier were:

Google offers a little piece of enticement to Adsense publishers by saying: "Since this is a test and these CPA ads are not regular ad units, we are giving you more flexibility in saying things like “I recommend this product” or “Try JetBlue today” next to the CPA ad unit." However Google states reports will be sent weekly by email and pro affiliates will not go for this.

So it's only a test - I repeat THIS IS ONLY A TEST. But we all know Google plans to take over the world. So it will be interesting to see if they really do jump into the affiliate network game with both feet.

I think it's a little EXTREME for David Jackson to short ValueClick stock and proclaim this move as the end of Commission Junction. However, this really could shake things up - we'll see.

(edited to add - Aaron posted a follow up and link to my blog at the same time I was replying.)

Google as affiliate manager

Wow. Further commoditization of the affiliate business.

I don't know many vendors who are truly happy with the aff networks, but they tolerate them as a way to get started or a way to stay removed from the management and busy-ness of it all. For a price.

I don't know many serious affiliates who are happy with the aff network middleman, either. We look to get around it and deal direct whenever possible. The super affiliate really needs to be the brightest bulb in the room in order to succeed at the levels that justify serious seo style efforts. It works well that way... everyone sees value.

Google has proven (with AdSense) that it will repeatedly return to the pit to adjust the game to capture more of the winnings, and that will never fly with a super affiliate. If nothing else, it will force me to put more risk management in place for the long term, which raises costs to the vendor and lowers my barrrier to exit, while encouraging me to consider dealing with the vendor's competition (today or tomorrow). Okay by me, but should not be ok by the vendor.

At first glance, I see this as commoditization of the low end of the affiliate market. Just as G has amateur webmasters monetizing content for pennies, they will now marginalize the affiliates that don't commit serious efforts. Easy money for Google?

I blogged about a Google affiliate network in February

I wrote about the possibility of Google opening an affiliate network back in February. I will be very interested to see how they manage to police the network though, since affiliate networks have a lot of fraud seeing as the payouts are often very high. I assume they'll force merchants to install their analytics product to capture click stream data. On the other hand, based on the amount of AdSense scraper sites and fraud associated with them, I would wonder if Google would even bother making the effort to prevent fraud.

Here's a link to my original prediction posting:
http://www.affmarketing.org/2006/02/google-to-open-affiliate-network.html

Good Move

The affiliate market is a mess with LinkShare almost impossible to use, worst UI on the place, CJ merging and in flux with their new API update and things falling apart over there, most of the other companies I just flat out don't even trust because of who they allow in their network so it's the perfect striking point for Google.

If you had to take a shot at affiliates, the timing is ripe IMO, and it's a good move for Google to offer a product that isn't ripe with potential click fraud so they can point to the affiliate offering and say "Hey, if you don't want CPC and it's risks of click fraud, use this affiliate program. Otherwise sign this waiver that absolves us of all responsibility of using AdWords AS-IS, AT YOUR OWN RISK."

That's what I see coming.

Nothing new under the Google sun

They've done it before, right before everybody started raving about them, that was back around 2000. Killed the program again on 1 Feb 2001, however.

Here's how they justified their dumping it at the time:

While the affiliate program has been very popular, we believe Google
can be most useful to you and others in the online community by
focusing on what we do best: providing a powerful search service.

Which, by inference, tells us that they're no longer focused on "providing a powerful search service" anymore. Strangely enough, I'm not entirely surprised ...

Google will

Google will make it less sleazy.

Less sleazy search?

Now THAT's something I'd like to see ... :-)

they may want to run the aff

they may want to run the aff program through Google Buy
http://blogs.zdnet.com/micro-markets/index.php?p=148
to tighten up the advertising to purchase click cycle
http://blogs.zdnet.com/micro-markets/?p=149

Foregoing click fraud litigation issues

is what it's probably mainly focused on, effectively emulating the http://www.snap.com model.

Makes sense, of course: In the long run, the only people who'll stay on board the conventional advertising train will be those who only want leads or branding exposure.

This will hit the AdSense scraper community pretty heftily, I would expect: no more driving people to click on the ads in sheer desperation for being caught on pot ugly crappy sites with no other navigation conduits.

GLife beta: Trust us, you'll have a good life

Pay here and let us run everything.

When myspace kids are running adsense, you know the system is getting thin. There's too much garbage traffic in adsense and the only reason it does so well is that content is set by default with adwords - the same reason 90% of the world uses IE: defaults. Maybe it's just my industries, but I see continually diminishing returns from content ads. Affiliate marketing might just let the Google beast live to fight more battles.

Display ads rarely convert like search ads

Back when all I did was manage ppc accounts, mostly AdWords, I only ever saw a couple of display ads that converted in the black. Most people run them because they're on by default and they don't know about better. The first thing I did was turn them off until I could verify they were profitable. I think I turned TWO back on out of hundreds of accounts with thousands of ads running. 

new thing

new thing everyday

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