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  1. #1
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    Google Referrals: Google is now an Affiliate Network, too!
    Here's the email I just received from Google AdSense:

    "Many of you already use referrals to direct users to your favorite Google products. Now, with our new referrals beta, you can select products and services from our base of AdWords advertisers. This is good news for those of you who have wanted to use referrals in the past, but couldn't find a product to match your site's content. With the referrals beta, you can search for products that match up directly with your site's content. And you can customize your referral units to match the look and feel of your site, making it easier than ever to find a referral ad that fits in seamlessly with your site's design and content.

    "What's more, Google can help make sure you find and display the most relevant, best-performing referral ads on your site. Simply provide a few keywords to describe your site and your users' interests, and you'll see ads automatically displayed that perform best for your site. No more constant updating, rotating products, or guesswork.

    "As with our current Google referrals, you'll generate earnings when your visitors click through to an advertiser's site and complete an action defined by your advertisers, such as a sale or sign-up. Because these actions are often more involved than a simple click or impression, advertisers pay more for these referrals, which can translate into higher earnings for your site.

    "While we plan to open this up to all publishers in the near future, this update is currently only available on a limited basis as part of our beta test. If you are interested in being one of our beta testers, please visit the referrals beta site and sign up.

    "Posted by Dan Friedman - AdSense Product Marketing"

    The AdWords (merchant) side is described in the AdWords blog: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/03/...beta-test.html

  2. #2
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    So, this looks like a "major development" in the "affiliate industry," with Google now stepping into the role of "affiliate network" in direct competition with CJ, LS, SAS, etc.

    I suppose it is cynical of me to wonder why Google Checkout turned out to be so incompatible with other affiliate networks for so long after its launch, nor why the "fix" was only released shortly before this beta was announced.
    Last edited by markwelch; March 20th, 2007 at 01:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    This will be an interesting development. I'm sure Y and M will follow soon.

  4. #4
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    Is this basically what Golden Can does, just with less flexibility?

    Seems like this is the same display rotation that the adsense uses, but with product images instead of text.

  5. #5
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    Basically from what it looks like, let's say you have Adsense on your site and normally you get paid for every click. With this, you get paid for a completed transaction, a sale, lead etc. Not per click.

    So there are 2 ends. Those with Adsense on their site, can be per click or this new method.

    And those using Adwords to advertise, ads that shop up in Adsense on people's sites. Now they can offer this model up for people to use.

  6. #6
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    Don't you think that Google may also allow "pay-per-lead" and "pay-per-sale" ads to appear in its own search results, if it computes that they'll likely generate more income than PPC ads?

    I think that pay-per-sale ads could easily replace the Froogle listings that are now shown on some Google search results pages.

    I don't think GoldenCan is a fair comparison -- GoldenCan is just aggregating affiliate links from other networks (a useful service, to be sure), but it appears that Google will fill all roles of an affiliate network, including tracking clicks and transactions and serving as a payment intermediary.

    I would expect that most Google AdSense partners would not actually choose specific products, but would allow Google to choose which products to display, similar to Amazon's Recommended Products or Omakase systems. Performance will then depend entirely on the effectiveness of Google's context-matching algorithms, which sometimes work really well but sometimes work very, very poorly.

  7. #7
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    Basically from what it looks like, let's say you have Adsense on your site and normally you get paid for every click. With this, you get paid for a completed transaction, a sale, lead etc. Not per click.

    So there are 2 ends. Those with Adsense on their site, can be per click or this new method.

    And those using Adwords to advertise, ads that shop up in Adsense on people's sites. Now they can offer this model up for people to use.
    and in addition cost-per-action aspects announced, in addition to adsense blocks that website owners have used, you can soon use inline text links on your site. javascript contextual stuff.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, will have to see how all this plays out, just in Beta now.

    But I don't really see anything new. When Adsense came out, that was huge because there really wasn't anybody else doing that. With this, it's just cost per action stuff. There are already all kinds of affiliate networks doing this. Lots of questions. Will it be contextual, will you be able to choose what's shown. Will it have the Ads By Google on the links. Will the payouts be competitive. It's nothing really new, just somebody new doing it.

  9. #9
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    It's nothing really new, just somebody new doing it.
    I agree.

    Some have suggested that action based ad costing (versus pay-per-click) is a possible cure for click fraud. That's an opinion I don't share, but I think it's one main reason why G's introducing it for experimentation.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    and in addition cost-per-action aspects announced, in addition to adsense blocks that website owners have used, you can soon use inline text links on your site. javascript contextual stuff.
    Yep, was reading:

    http://www.seobook.com/archives/002112.shtml

    "For example, you might see the following text link embedded in a publisher's recommendatory text: "Widgets are fun! I encourage all my friends to Buy a high-quality widget today." (Mousing over the link will display "Ads by Google" to identify these as pay-per-action ads)."

    I can get text links now, and it won't have Ads By Google when someone hovers their mouse over it. Still confused as to whether it would be contextual. I don't mind contextual on a side ad as in Adsense. But as far as text links within the content, I want to choose what shows up there. I guess we'll just have to wait and see on all of this, see it in action. Still trying to fully understand it all.

  11. #11
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    I can get text links now, and it won't have Ads By Google when someone hovers their mouse over it.
    I thought the EXACT same thing here. G has one opinion of what people think of them, while many of us see things (from outside the halls of G) as very different. I bet they think adding the "it's us" hover adds credibility. Seeing so much click fraud and crappy advertisers, little "signs" like their hovering "it's us" thingy, seems to lack real credibility to me. Consumer's trust gets earned with every positive experience click and lost with every shitty experience click - keep a clean house and your name means a lot. But port consumers to MFA sites and parked domains and the little "trust us" hover thingies just mean bunk. Substance required, not flash. You'd think they'd have learned that by now. It's not what you label or call something, it's what it "is" that matters. Adding blinky things to the content network won't make it better - clean it up and advertisers will pay tons to be in it - and, more importantly, consumers will believe beforehand that they'll have a positive experience when they click (btw, that's my definition of trust in branding).

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    Guys, I'm just curious - do you see this affecting the AM business in a good/bad way...or do you suppose there won't be much of an impact once released from beta?

  13. #13
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    Well, it's still way too early, it's just beta at this point. Right now I look at it as another option, not really competition to the affiliate networks. Actually I think Adsense has had more of an affect on affiliate networks. Sometimes affiliates had sites that didn't convert with cost per action but they would get clicks and now they would be getting paid for those clicks. Of if they had a merchant that wasn't working, put up Adsense. Affililiates were removing network affiliate links and putting up Adsense. Not everybody but I think those more with content type sites, which is what Adsense is primarily for. I've never used it on my main site, just on one of my sites and my forum. CJ even listed Adsense as a competitor when talking about LMI.

    But this, don't know time will tell. These networks now have been doing it for years and we have some good ones coming up. It doesn't look like it's going to be a full fledged affiliate network at this point with all the stuff the current ones have. So right now, I'm sticking to just another option.

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    Ok, thanks. Ever since Google introduced their checkout feature (even before that), I've been suspicious of anything they do - especially in regards to the affiliate industry - and am afraid they have something big up their sleeve. Something that will change the way we do business (in a bad way).

    May just be good ole paranoia from my side...

  15. #15
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    just guessing here...

    contextual links - [as a site owner monetizing your traffic] slight improvement for adsense based affiliates. more competition (and inventory) means slightly higher payouts and better aimed ads. but nothing earth shattering at all. [as an advertiser buying content network ads through adwords] if you run content network ads, the opportunity won't be large - an adsense block shows several advertisers, while a contextual ad shows one - so the top bidder/performer will occupy these spots most often - and that'll likely be a merchant.

    cost per action - without shopping cart control, affiliates largely can't take advantage of sale-action based pricing. if they could, it would give firmer control over roi, but with one major problem for most affiliates, risk. if you could only pay for sales, how much will you bid? if you get paid $125 for a satellite tv sale, how much is that sale worth? if you have a very tight handle on return rate, you might bid $50 a sale or something. if you bid that high for events, you have more risk (picture the spending graph in your head). like trying to catch a whale versus trying to catch a 100 tuna fish. if you're well funded, advantage goes to you. if you're medium or small, you'd be unlikely to play heavy in something where the single event costs are so high. and all of us affiliates that run ppc, do so most often alongside merchants, resellers and even OEMs - they are better prepared (with data) to more accurately gauge event roi, so they should gain a small advantage over their affs. if you sell expensive stuff, this also should be a disadvantage for most affiliates, chasing it on per sale ad basis will be expensive, tilting your whale towards the fat side, perhaps whole whale pod size event (formerly click) costs. now, G has to inject both streams into the results - those of us bidding per click and those bidding per event - regardless of all factors I'm suggesting above, how G performs that mix is the biggest unknown and will likely determine the impact for us all.
    Last edited by Donuts; March 20th, 2007 at 03:42 PM.

  16. #16
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    I think the success or failure will depend if people put those per action links on their site.

    If I want contextual per click it's Adsense for me.

    If I want to get paid per action, it's affiliate links thru networks/indy programs.

    If that is what Google is going after, I'm not sure, I'll still going to use what's working now.

    But what about Contextual Per Action? From reading the first post

    "With the referrals beta, you can search for products that match up directly with your site's content."

    That reads more what's already available thru networks.

    "What's more, Google can help make sure you find and display the most relevant, best-performing referral ads on your site. Simply provide a few keywords to describe your site and your users' interests, and you'll see ads automatically displayed that perform best for your site. No more constant updating, rotating products, or guesswork."

    That reads more Contextual Per Action, what's not really available. Like what Mark posted, that reads kind of like Amazon's Omakase. And I don't think that really worked out well, not sure. And Google targetting probably would be better. But not sure on that either.

  17. #17
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    I think that anything that makes any money on the web is a target for Google.

    It's just a matter of time before they offer all the services that SaS/LS/CJ and others provide. They will become a full service provider for merchants with the ability to offer marketing (through advertising and now through affiliates), tracking, checkout, etc.

    It's almost safe to say that for merchants to survive in the future, they may as well drink the punch now. Get the cart, run the ads, sign up for CPA, etc.

    Affiliates will have to fall in line and play by G's rules for developing content sites. Mega-malls will die. Thin affiliates will die. PPC affiliates will die. Parasites will try to evolve and will eventually die.

    People will find products through G/Y/M search or price comparison engines. (Surprised Goggle didn't build a version of shopping.com yet, but they will eventually).

    Just my opinion.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    Thumbs down
    https://www.google.com/adsense/linkunit
    Looks like theres no good way (for me at least) to 'embed' their links in my content.

  19. #19
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    If I want to get paid per action, it's affiliate links thru networks/indy programs.

    If that is what Google is going after, I'm not sure, I'll still going to use what's working now.
    I think the same here, which I think is what people are wondering about most, regarding impact on affs.

    An affiliates link income is usually more (basing this on empirical and anecdotal evidence) for affs links than for adsense clicks. As a percentage, very few affiliates here at ABW survive off of adsense clicks. Nothing about that has fundamentally changed here - if you get paid per sale action, the conversion rate will now be factored into your pay, per event... all with a new middleman, G. So you'd get more money as an adsense publisher, per event, but those events are much more infrequent than clicks. Here's another way to look at the same thing... if what Google is doing came first... and we were all doing it now... sale based action pay for ads that are sending traffic that buys, where G gets a cut (like they do in adsense now) and where the person paying for the ads has risk (a merchant paying for these ads we put on our sites, versus a merchant with an affiliate sale in hand - two separate things), wouldn't we have been excited when affiliate marketing was born and we could negotiate directly with the merchant to get paid for sales... cutting out the middleman (Google)... reducing risks for the merchant (she pays for sales, not ads)... both allowing us to make more.

    If you're a professional affiliate, I bet the results will be... no change. Precise aiming directly for a merchant should always pay you more.

    But if you own a content site and don't know how to monetize it, slap any (and all) forms of adsense on it, with any forms of payment (clicks or events) and you'll make some money, so will G.

    for those that want to think it through further, G's track record also tells me that comparing their cut of the action and a typical network's cut, is not a comparison at all.

  20. #20
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mack
    Affiliates will have to fall in line and play by G's rules for developing content sites. Mega-malls will die. Thin affiliates will die. PPC affiliates will die. Parasites will try to evolve and will eventually die.
    That's a lot of death, I think it's very unlikely. But I've been diversifying my tactics in case I'm wrong about any particular area(s) (humility can make you rich).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mack
    People will find products through G/Y/M search or price comparison engines. (Surprised Goggle didn't build a version of shopping.com yet, but they will eventually).
    If we polled people in the north america and asked them if they consider themselves to be alien life forms or not, I'll bet you $100 we wouldn't get over 90% that would pick "not". To put everyone into a few, simple categories / choices, is also, very unlikely to happen. I expect the breadth of available promotion methods to grow as time passes, not shrink.

    And remember, without ppc income, G/Y/M wouldn't have search. PPC may morph, but it won't die. If it dies, so does search. Also, very unlikely.

    So chin up chicken little, it's much brighter outside that you are thinking today.
    Last edited by Donuts; March 20th, 2007 at 04:33 PM.

  21. #21
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    So chin up chicken little, it's much brighter outside that you are thinking today.
    You are right. I was just using the drama queen method to make a point. Google will be everywhere, but there will be new choices. Things will evolve. The winners will evolve with it. AOL is a great example of how things change.

    I was just trying to figure out what color and flavor the punch will be when I drink it.

  22. #22
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    Just a thought...

    Google Analytics tracks affiliate link clicks as an action. So Google may have the ability to track actions on affiliate links too.

    The gotcha might be in click fraud though, when the affiliate does not get paid right away, like a merchant would.

  23. #23
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    That's a lot of death, I think it's very unlikely. But I've been diversifying my tactics in case I'm wrong (humility can make you rich).
    Exactly what I've come to expect of you Donuts. Well put.

    I think it also lends credence that good affiliate management companies might want to brush up on their copy writing and SEM knowledge....
    Kevin Webster
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  24. #24
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    Assuming that in this case, G itself also only makes money when someone buys (rather than *charging* per-click/imp, but only paying per sale):

    I shall enjoy the schadenfreude when G realizes that nonsales content IS (with few exceptions) bad for conversion ratios; when they have it right there in their books, in their face where they can't deny it... when they see that the ton of content-seekers is severely diluting the ratio of buyers/lookers, and is only eating their server resources and bandwidth (which adds up to a lot, for an operation of Google's size)...

    And have to either eat it and change their algo to get more buyers into the traffic stream, or else effectively burn their own money.

    But if they are charging advertisers per click, but only paying affiliates per action, then it's nothing but a flagrant ripoff of both sides. A ripoff which will work better for G if they continue to favor c*ntent sites, since those sites tend to bring lots of viewers and curiosity clickers, but few buyers (on a per 100 pageviews basis).

    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    I don't mind contextual on a side ad as in Adsense. But as far as text links within the content, I want to choose what shows up there.
    For me, it depends on the type of site it is. And the payment model--I'd only want any contextual ads if they were PPC-based.

    As for site types--I wouldn't want "foreign" text links showing up in the middle of my sales pitches, for instance.

    But for any nonsales content, they can put whatever, as long as I get paid per-click and it's not X-rated or super crappy. Trying to come up with a paying link that'll match some genuinely off-the-cuff commentary (like that on a non-niche blog) can be almost impossible when you're not signed up with every single program out there, even if you want to. Having automatic access to G's bank of zillions of advertisers would be sweet on a "regular" content site. Even the most obscure topics and rants would probably match with some of their ads, all I'd have to do is type whatever came to mind!

    I would absolutely want it to pay me per-click, though. If I wanted to have a 1/10000 conversion ratio, I could have done that already just by putting CJ links on a content site!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mack
    People will find products through G/Y/M search or price comparison engines. (Surprised Goggle didn't build a version of shopping.com yet, but they will eventually).
    Goofle's got Froogle and has had it for quite a while now.

    In my experience, the value of price-comparison sites to merchants varies WIDELY based on the type of product!!

    For bulbs, Froogle and littler comparison engines might as well not exist. Gardeners just don't care about it. Even for varieties where I've got the ONLY one in there, Froogle brings nada sales and hardly any searches. The whole concept of comparisons has been a zero for that category.

    On the other hand, for mass-produced, humanly-made (rather than nature-made) stuff, it's been great. I can now see why affiliates who sell electronics hound after making a comparison site and think those sites are THE king of everything. Electronics come off a factory line, so if you buy a Toshiba [Insert Model] Camcorder, the quality is going to be the same whether you paid $500 or $250, so might as well find the guy with that $250 price. And comparison sites make that easy.

    The fallacy is when they think that people shop that way for everything...they don't. Natural stuff, and other things with a lot of "subjectiveness" involved in the purchase decision, don't do jack when put on a site that caters to hard-facts type decision making.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  25. #25
    Prince of Content Vinny O'Hare's Avatar
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    I wish they would just start their own affiliate network already, It would make my life easier.
    Vinny O'Hare - OPM - Contact Info email: vinny at teamloxly.com ~ 702-582-6742 Twitter

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