It’s often suggested that Google isn’t too keen on affiliate marketers – a suggestion that I don’t actually agree with. Sure, I’m more than a little peeved when my highly ranked page disappears from view in the search results (it’s not a nice experience). Yes, some of the minimum bids in adwords can take your breath away. Experienced affiliates are still sometimes flummoxed by the bidding mechanism. But ultimately, I believe that Google plans for the long term and attempts to keep the user experience at the forefront of it’s business plans.
Of course, I’m a user of Google too and I want a slick user experience. I use it for search, mail, blogging, feed reading (I just adore Google Reader), spreadsheets, etc, etc. I can understand why Google attempts to remove duplicate content (in affiliate sites) from the search results – I don’t want to see the same content in the first 10 results. Sensible approach, even if it has affected my affiliate work !
As a publisher of it’s contextual ads I also earn revenue from Google. It’s a system that works well – sophisticated, but easy to use and implement. As an advertiser using Adwords, Yahoo! and MSN I can honestly say that Adwords is streets ahead of the other two in terms of functionality and even more-so, usability. Though I’d kind of expect MSN & Yahoo to much improve their current offerings in this area and then maybe they’ll push Adwords a little more than they do right now.
Now I’m guessing Google earns a substantial amount of revenue from affiliates (via advertising costs) so why would they want to banish them? On the contrary, if Google does decide to compete with the likes of TradeDoubler, CJ, OMG and the rest here in the UK and internationally then I’d suggest that the networks should be worrying more than the affiliates just now. Google may well take more of a shine to affiliate marketers. It’s worth recalling of course that reports (and here), indicate that Google has previously trialled a CPA system – so maybe it is a case of when rather than if.
Affiliates have the targeted content websites sitting there and the PPC campaigns up and running and it’s not too difficult (normally) to swap over the promotion a merchants CPA offering from network A to network B. If Google had the right mix of merchant CPA programmes to promote then I’d certainly be interested. Presumably it’d tie-in with Adsense so therefore the publisher payment services etc are already in place. I’d imagine there’d be some cross-over with Adwords for detailed reporting too (though some publishers might not want this). Perhaps google checkout would figure in this mix too?
Merchants brand bidding guidelines would be interesting!