April 18th 2013: No doubt the blogging community will be flaring all manner of articles in an effort to deconstruct the reasons behind Google closing its affiliate network.
Interestingly, Google announcement to close the affiliate network comes on the heels of Affiliate Management Days in San Francisco (April 16th to 17th 2013).
Based on the date of the blog post below (February 19th 2013), I suspect the final decision to close GAN had not yet been made - certainly staff planning to attend the conference would not have known that Google leadership had big plans for their division.
On a personal note to Google Affiliate Network Staff: Best wishes to you in your next career move (with or without Google). I know there are real people affected by these corporate decisions.
Judging by the positive reviews from various affiliate network bloggers, Google's Affiliate program was deemed to be quite good.
The Dashboard, Tracking, Search/Filtering Advertisers and Links all clearly laid out and making sense. In fact, Google Affiliate Technical team were working on improvements up to the "last minute". See the Notifications Tab update published on the Google Affiliate Blog on March 7th (image below)
Advertisers appeared to be doing quite well within Google's Affiliate programme as well. Take a look at this case study, eFlorist (a UK based online florist) who experienced a revenue boost from the affiliate sales channel.
Google launched into the Affiliate networking market by acquiring Doubleclick in 2008 for an estimated $3 billion. At the time, Google's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Eric Schmidt expressed a great future for the division and its fit in the Google family of products as it "will enable us to rapidly bring to market advances in technology and infrastructure that will dramatically improve the effectiveness, measurability and performance of digital media for publishers, advertisers and agencies, while improving the relevance of advertising for users."
The investment figure alone reinforces Mr. Schmidt's plan and vision to really make a go of it ... but five years later, the honeymoon is over ... what happened?
This reminds me of when Google exited from the business of "Site Ads" in the Adsense product. For a long time I often thought Google curation of the web and enforcing "quality content" through their Page Ranking algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin etc.) was a bit of a conflict with the Adsense program. That is, they have a product (advertising) that you can attach to an empty domain? Where's the logic in that -- quality content obviously not as important as advertiser revenue!
So when the Site Ads feature disappeared from Google's Adsense product I thought "okay, not a problem and clearly reinforcing Google's long standing and public push for webmasters to put quality content on their sites". Hypocrisy averted.
Now we have the closing down of Google's Affiliate networking programme. At face value, the company appears to be making a clear cut business decision. They want to invest in other areas of the company that make more sense. Fair enough - there are shareholders to satisfy.
But what if Google is "cleaning house" - they don't "LIKE" thin affiliate sites. Affiliate sites appear to get "punished" whenever a new algorithm is released. So they can't be seen to "LOVE" the affiliate model (i.e. through owning an affiliate network) at the same time they are casting negative "votes" at the affiliate marketers. Hypocrisy?
Bottom Line: Google is about to unleash another negative blow in the direction of affiliate sites, so they are taking their "bats and balls" and exiting the game. Message to all thin affiliate site owners -- get ready, this next cut from Google could seriously wipe out your traffic!
Google Affiliate network closing is impacting a LOT of website owners.
Taking down links, finding alternate affiliate companies and products to promote, updating links ...
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