Wednesday, 17 April 2013

GAN closure...

This was added as a comment to a post on the 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 post-Penguin/Panda world.

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 fare.

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!

Chris Tradgett