This was added as a comment to a post on the affiliates4u.com news pages on the announced closure of the Google Affiliate Network, announced yesterday (April 16) on the Google blog.
There was a fair bit of talk yesterday afternoon here at #AMDays when
the news broke which produced many differing opinions on where this
leads. My view on how this changes the landscape extends beyond the
simple technology and 'where to place my programme?' questions.
Google have dipped their toe in the water and gained a lot of
valuable knowledge from which to make their next changes, which will no
doubt become apparent over coming months. One key element is: while
Google were running an affiliate offering, affiliate websites with
obvious affiliate links were an important part of the mix for them. So
until now affiliate sites have still performed well in natural search,
where the site can be seen to add value to the browser in this
Now they are exiting that space, they are likely to evolve their
offerings to advertisers with the primary objective to provide increased
revenue without the higher costs and less controllable aspects of using
affiliate sites. I'm sure advertisers will be able to buy ads on a CPA
basis going forwards - but that will be so much more on Google's terms
and in their control.
Once affiliate revenues are taken away from the Google P&L, that
leaves the question for them over how their algorithm will perceive
affiliate links on a website. One metric that will be very interesting
to record is how some of the affiliate sites currently performing well
in search fare going forwards. Will Google now start changing their
algorithm to gently (or even quickly) ditch these sites from SERPS? That
of course would enable the big G to provide 'more relevant' results
from their own stable of advertisers within the results - without the
competition from affiliates.
The potential of this scenario and threat to affiliate revenues is
likely to see a rise in less trackable and untrackable server call
tracking systems now available in some of the more advanced affiliate
networks. Again - if this scenario does play out as I've painted it, how
would the behemoth networks with legacy tracking from the late '90s
I think that should make the rest of 2013 a very interesting ride,
and one that will see some soul-searching and technical advances at the
same time. I look forward to tracking this at the various conferences as
well in Philadelphia, Amsterdam and London - so see you all there!