There has been some active discussion going on over at Webmasterworld in regards to Google potentially stopping affiliates from bidding in Adwords, which ultimately direct that traffic to merchant websites. As there are a good number of affiliates that use Adwords to promote a particular product, service, website, and with quite good success. So much so that you can now see on any given search a affiliate ad somewhere in the sponsored section. You can imagine the shock and horror if Google decided it didn't like this type of advertising and eliminated the process altogether. There might be riots at webmaster conferences, but hopefully not. ;) From what I have read, and the adwords reps I have talked to, I am not seeing why the big fuss regarding this. While this could potentially be a shot at affiliates, there are definately many ways to still promote your ads successfully even if you are an affiliate without a content site. From the rep I talked to recently and the feeling I got was that Google values content pages, especially when advertisers are directing their advertising to their OWN content pages. Its makes sense their stance, you often have more information to make an educated decision on content oriented pages, more choices, the traffic is going to YOUR website and not some affiliate page or lead form, you are not confusing the users, and so on.
The discussion at WMW raised some good points. Many of the member questioned whether Google could take the hit financially should they decide to exclude affiliates from bidding. There isn't probably a way to exclude anyone, just exclude the ads and urls they are running, plus if the ads affiliates are running aren't as relevant, you get this:
No interest => no clicks => no revenue for google => disabled keywords => no more ads
Google of course has indirectly commented on this, with their cat and mouse chase type answers. AdwordsRep was helpful though and summarized the basic position at the moment from an earlier thread.
Google’s affiliate policy has not been changed. This means that your approved affiliate AdWords ads will continue to run on Google.com. Please be assured that we have no current plans to completely block affiliates from AdWords. If we do make any changes to our affiliate policy, you’ll be notified.
No changes apparently, or at least for now. However I think what Google is doing, is giving affiliates a chance to clean up their ads (or act) before implementing any policies against this type of bidding. I recently had some keywords disabled that were pointing to links that google felt needed to be tagged as affiliate links. While I disagreed, I had to comply or risk not advertising at all. I first received this message from them:
Thank you for your continued interest in the Google AdWords program. Please know that if you are directing users directly to URLs for your partners, please manipulate your display URL. This will ensure that user does not feel misled when clicking on your ad. Your other option would be to create a form page within the website for those specific programs.
They even provide instructions for affiliates to help clean up their ads:
We will display all ads exactly as our advertisers enter them into our system, so be sure to check that the information in the 'Display URL' field accurately reflects the destination of the ad and that your 'Destination URL' functions properly. To edit your 'Display URL' and 'Destination URL,' please follow the steps below:
Note: You can still edit your ad when an Ad Group is paused. To do so, simply follow the same directions above.
- 1. Log in to your AdWords account.
- 2. Click the campaign that contains the Ad Group you want to edit.
- 3. Click the appropriate Ad Group.
- 4. Locate the appropriate ad above or below the Ad Group table.
- 5. Click 'Edit' below the ad.
- 6. Change the URL fields as needed.
- 7. Click 'Save Changes.'
Clearly there is more effort to clean up this then to actually ban affiliates altogether. It wouldn't make sense to do so. Instead the better option is to help them, because ultimately they are paying for it.