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Affiliates and Adwords...
Does this detract from the user experience?

 5:37 pm on Oct 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have been watching the growing trend of listing affiliate links on adwords.
Multiple aff links show up for almost all of my keywords. Heck, search for
widgets and you get 3 Ebay affiliates.

Many of these ads do not make any sense at all. If you search for a popular
author you will see ads like "AuthorName for sale" and "Buy your AuthorName here"

Does this type of advertisement detract from the user experience? I can not
see any value added by displaying them. If anything they might teach the user
not to read the ads at all...

What do you guys think?



 5:47 am on Oct 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

No interest => no clicks => no revenue for google => disabled keywords => no more ads.


 8:43 pm on Oct 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes, that makes sense from a purely monetary standpoint, but I am sure not all of the Google
restrictions were created to make the company the most money as possible. I am sure at
least some of them were designed with the user in mind. I suppose I was hoping to get a
morsel from AWA on how Google views this growing trend...


 6:20 am on Oct 31, 2004 (gmt 0)


As an affiliate AdWords person myself, I feel my opinion may be skewed, but here goes anyways:

I think that if the ads are relevant (i.e. a person searches for the WidgetMaster 3000 and gets an ad for the WidgetMaster 3000 on GiganticOnlineStore.com, and the ad sends them to the WidgetMaster 3000 upon clicking), they're fine. I have a problem with the unrelated stuff (specifically eBay, like you mentioned) and the lead generator/free widget sites that tend to be cropping up (especially on my keywords). I think the latter 2 cases can potentially devalue web results since the user isn't assured that they're getting what they're searching for.

Just my $0.02. :)


 4:24 pm on Oct 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sorry if my response was a bit cryptic. The basic idea behind adwords is that the monetary incentive and "user experience" idea are related. Irrelevant ads tend to drop out over time.

I'm sure you know this, so are you suggesting that adwords tighten its review process?

Perhaps there may ge a problem if the rate of irrelevant ad generation exceeds the rate of irrelevant ad attrition.


 7:30 pm on Oct 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

A variation on the theme...

Some interest => some clicks => rubbish landing => no revenue => no more ads

Nobody will continue to pay for clicks that aren't paying their way.

If you use good keywords, good copy and a relevant landing page it's amazing how quick your ads will rise above the dross.


 7:33 pm on Oct 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

A friend of mine attended a Google University seminar at Earls Court (London, UK) on Thursday last week. Apparently one of the guys from Google said that they were planning to phase out affiliate bidding on AdWords 'very soon'. The reason - showing several ads for the same merchant reflects badly on the user's experience.

I'm a full-time affiliate who primarily uses AdWords to send customers to the exact product page on a merchant's website. If this is true quite frankly I'm in trouble. I called my account rep immediately in horror and he said he'd heard nothing of the sort. I would certainly hope Google would give plenty of warning if they were planning such a huge change.

My concerns were dampened slightly by my colleague informing me that he also said Froogle was going to be 'huge' in the UK this Christmas. Yeah right! A tall order seeing as Joe Public hasn't a clue it even exists, not to mention it hardly has any merchants onboard etc.

Anyway, I really don't understand what Google's long term plan is. How could they possibly afford to cut off all the revenue from affiliate bids, then kill AdWords completely by giving Froogle a big push (let's face it, why click on AdWords ads when Froogle gives the price). A double whammy, shortly after going PLC with investors to please, I don't think so.


 3:12 am on Nov 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Dear All,

I have join the clickbank and Google Adword about half year. But from Aug, my adword CTR is about 2%(about 50 to 100 click). But nobody buy any products.

I think that many clickbank comptitor go to Google Adword.

Best Regard


 11:36 am on Nov 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think if the affiliate ad is relevant there should be no problem.


 4:29 pm on Nov 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

The reason - showing several ads for the same merchant reflects badly on the user's experience.

This is the real problem. The ads have different display urls like ebay.com, www.ebay.com, and www.eBay.com. It should be simple to limit it to one ad at a time for all variations of the domain name.

Please, please, please?


 4:42 pm on Nov 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hate to say this, but what the hell do you guys care? Is this bothering you as it's increasinc compteition for your clicks? Or as a user?

I'm sure everyone is going to say "as a user", but we typically don't exert energy in this forum to discuss our opinions as mere users of a completely free search engine.

Affiliates are a part of the ad buying World. Learn to live with it.


 7:55 pm on Nov 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hate to say this, but what the hell do you guys care?

I care because 90% of my profits come from placing affiliate links on Google. If Google decide that affiliate bidding on AdWords has a negative impact on user experience and bans it then I, and a lot of people on this forum, stand to lose a lot of money. A Google representative said that this was their plan at a seminar at London last week, I'd really like to know if AWA can confirm this as I'm rather concerned.



 9:12 pm on Nov 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

A Google representative said that this was their plan at a seminar at London last week, I'd really like to know if AWA can confirm this as I'm rather concerned.

Shaka1978, as was mentioned in my intro to WebmasterWorld*, I'm not really able to comment on AdWords business plans, or what the future may hold for AdWords.

Such things are not at all a part of my realm here at AdWords, and as a consequence I have no first-hand knowledge on the subject of affiliate advertising that you've inquired about.

What I can offer is this: I'll happily pass your concern on, verbatim, in the report that I send out to many folks here at Google each week. A pretty high percentage of the readers of this report are the decision makers to whom you'd want your concerns known. And it'll be going out today, about 8 hours from now.


*So long ago that maybe I should re-post it at some point soon, for those who are newer to this Forum.


 5:18 am on Nov 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

Is this bothering you as it's increasinc compteition for your clicks? Or as a user?

Both. Number 1, because eBay is a huge source of competition for my site. And if I can't post two ads on the same page, eBay doesn't deserve two. I have no problem with them having one.

Number 2, because when you do a search, and see eBay, Amazon, eBay, Amazon, all the way down the right hand side, it surely detracts. The less relevant the ads are, the less users will like them, and that will hurt all of us.

Thanks for listening and passing on, AWA!


 2:20 am on Nov 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Many thanks for your response AWA.



 3:03 am on Nov 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

> because eBay is a huge source of competition for my site

Can you start an affiliate program? :)


 6:36 am on Nov 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've noticed the surge in ebay recently as well. This thread urged me to finally check it out (I normally only use their program around christmas - mostly in december).


As far as EBay goes the reason is simple. They ponied up a bunch of cash. They increased their base referral offer to affiliates by 140% just recently.

The more a company pays you, the more irrelevant an ad you can get away with and still have it be profitable. Maintaining the minimum CTR is probably the biggest challenge for these affiliates... they could get dropped despite having good ROI.

Personally I don't see how ebay can maintain this fee schedule. After christmas they likely will revert to a more sustainable payout level, and accordingly you will see less influx of ebay ads in adwords.


 3:56 pm on Nov 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I must admit that when searching the web for something specific I do not click on any ads that contain the words 'affiliate', or 'aff'.



 4:23 pm on Nov 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Nor do I, but then again Im a bit bias. ;)


 1:03 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Affiliate ads such as eBay ads have no legitimate place in the adspace alongside other bona fide, real domain website advertisers.

If G$ wants to to capitalize more money for affiliate ads too, they should put affiliate ads at the bottom of the SERPs, separate from the REAL sites.

Unlike real domain sites in AdWords, affiliates are wholly unaccountable -- they can be anybody, even only there to attack existing advertisers with higher costs.

There are way too many eBay ads like

Find KEYWORD at eBay.
All about KEYWORD.

Such ads as that should be banned from the regular AdWords space. (Again, let G$ move them to the absolute bottom footer of the SERP pages if they must allow them somewhere.)

Fact is, if people were searching to buy from eBay, they would already be at eBay! At least in my keyword, it is a 100% fact that such searching users are NOT looking for eBay and other "find out all about KEYWORD" affiliate site AdWords ads.

Yes, I, too, have seen way too many irrelevant eBay affiliates appear, along with others such as tivo.com and other. These affiliate ads provide NO real value for the user. They only dillute the value of the AdWords space (for both user and real advertiser). And they make it more expensive for the real domain sites.

The theory that their irrelevance will eventually knock them out is useless. In the meantime, they cost the real sites more money, and dillute/diminish the CTR of the real sites. And when the affiliate ads might later disappear, the next eBay (et al) advertiser comes in and does it all over again. So they same-looking irrelevant eBay ad keeps coming back (wih different unknown, unaccountable affiliate advertisers) -- still dilluting the AdWords space, robbing the user experience, and costing the real advertisers more than they should be paying.

No, the unaccountability of affiliate ads has no place in a legitimate adspace.

No wonder OV has become a better service lately. One can only hope that G$'s seemingly never-ending greed will one day come to an end (or a slowing, anyway!) that they will see the value-destructive basis of still allowing these unaccountable affiliate ads in AdWords -- and then take corrective action.

No affiliate ads in AdWords adspace. This has nothing to do with competition issues. It has to do with value and accountability -- for both users and real domain sites. Affiliate sites do not belong in AdWords. It's just that simple.


 1:18 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Affiliate sites do not belong in AdWords. It's just that simple"

have to argue against that comment.

If a merchant has no idea how to use adwords, yet is offering relevant products does it matter if a PPC agency take this over or whether an affiliate takes this over?

The most annoying thing for me as an affiliate is seeing 8 ads all saying the exact same thing down the right hand side, that is bad, but if it's 8 RELEVANT yet different adverst I can't see a problem

But I don't see why google should bin affiliates, regulate, become more stringent etc YES, but remove totally NO,

many merchants wouldn't get any exposure at all if it weren't for us using PPC via adwords to promote them.

I think it's to the benefit of everyone, the ads aren't imposing or in your face, google users get the choice of using natural or paid advertising, merchants who can't rank get exposure, affiliates earn money.


 1:44 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I do understand and appreciate that affiliate advertisers will want to protect themselves in this -- but it honestly does not matter. There is simply too much unaccountability, fraud, irrelevance, and dillution of the adspace product by allowing affiliates.

If G$ wants to still allow affiliate ads, such ads should be moved to the bottom footers of the pages. Period.


 1:59 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

There are several angle here that should be separated:

A. Should affiliates be allowed to advertise?


B. Is it appropriate for there to be ads on the same search from multiple affiliates of the same vendor?

No. This is just a way to push other vendors aside. The limit should be one link per provider.


 2:32 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I can also appreciate that input too.

But it still cannot happen in the legitimate adspace. Too much unaccountability with affiliates.

Some come in with one affiliate system, costing the real sites more than the value, and dilluting the whole value for all all concerned. When the irrelevant ad eventually gets kicked off, they come in with another affiliate system. An eBay affiliate advertiser then becomes a tivo.com affiliate advertiser, then becomes some other system affitilate advertiser, etc. By not being a real site, no one knows who they really are, unaccountable And they rob the user and real advertisers of value.

Bottom line, affiliate ads are not real information providers for users. It is bad enough that G$ has destroyed the natural SERPs in order to force non-commerce/info sites to pay in AdWords just to be found, but then to destroy the AdWords space with non-real, unknown, unaccountable affiliate ads is to ultimately destroy the entire search product altogether.

If at all, the only place for unaccountable affiliate, non-real-domain-site advertisers is at the bottom footer of the pages. But there is no value for either search-users or real site advertisers for G$ to allow affiliate ads in the AdWords adspace.

It's just that simple.


 2:49 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Bottom line, affiliate ads are not real information providers for users.

That isn't true. If for whatever reason google banned affiliate ads, many of the companies I work with would likely hire myself and others to continue placing ads as we currently do anyway. Affiliate ads help connect searchers to the product/service they are looking for. If affiliate ads didn't convert, people wouldn't place them.

It takes time and expertise and man hours to get the most you can out of adwords. For large companies it is like having an extensive marketing dept without any of the overhead.

As for the G perspective, why ban a huge base of advertisers? They would take a huge revenue hit by denying affiliates the right to bid.

OV is on the wrong side of the fence on this issue, which is part of the reason they are the inferior company.

[edited by: PPCBidder at 2:53 am (utc) on Nov. 11, 2004]


 2:50 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

ok valid points all round but picture yourself as a merchant.

And you can't even get on the first page naturally never mind a decent position, so what do you do? Pay an SEO company..sure pick one.. burn thousands before finding a competent one...


Do PPC it yourself.. yeah it's easy anyone can do it! ... NOT..as many will tell you, so again do you get a professional in that will work on a percentage of spend.. how much do you blow before finding a good one, that won't just whack your budget up to earn more (I know good ones don't do that as it if doesn't return you cancel BUT not everyone can do PPC effectively and a few do burn budgets with no regard)


Do you utilise a sales channel that costs you nothing till the sale/lead is made? totally free advertising for your products and you only pay when you make a sale.

hmmm looking at it pragmatically the affiliate model is (in most cases) the most cost effective in relation to time/present skills/risk that a merchant may have,

Getting rid of affiliates won't do anything except make the merchants who are there already have an easier ride untill the ones that HAD an affiliate scheme who's affiliates used PPC, stumble into adwords trying to make up "lost" revenue as a result and start wasting their money with broad matched terms and no negatives,

When it doesn't convert (after they've pushed bids skyhigh for the existing advertisers too I imagine) they will pack google in as a "poor return on investment" and look elsewhere.

end result:
merchants loose as they can't get the sales or do PPC themselves effectively
users loose an extra choice to see special offers that dont show in serps
Some existing merchants in there do win initially and possibly in the long run (if their budgets can withstand the inexperience merchants coming through bidding silly and poorly)
affiliates loose, I work full time at being an affiliate and earn a good living doing this beacause I am good at PPC, google will lose the money I spend to do this, which is several thousands a month, so I'd end up using every other PPC SE to push products on for merchants (and end up at McD's flippin burgers :( )

I agree that 8 identical "Ebay widgets" adverts is wrong but what does it matter WHO the actual advertiser is as long as the advert is relevant to the user, different to the others around it in some way and not in your face intrusive and the user finds exactly what they want on google with minimum hassle


 3:08 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Regarding the point about restricting multiple ads going
to the same destination URL - I am going to go out on a limb
here and say that user experience might actually better if
there are no duplicate ad restrictions.

When I'm looking at a set of ad results, I divide them mentally
into classes of different ad types. There might be the "auction"
class of results (eBay et al), the "comparison shopping"
class of results, the "more info here" class of results, etc,
and others depending on the search and circumstance.

Depending on what I'm looking for, I can often
discount one or more classes of ad results, and then
zero in on a particular ad within the remainder.

I'm worried that if you put restrictions on (say)
the number of ads per destination URL, you are
going to actually make it harder for people to find
what they are looking for.

An ad-per-destination rule might instantly cause a whole set
of semi-bogus advertisers to spring up - ones that have different
destination URLs but whose purpose is still to direct the user
to eBay,the destination shopping portal or whatever. The same
number of ads will still be there, but now there will be
level of confusion and disguise that wasn't there before.

Because the destination URLs are all now different, as a
searcher, I cannot so easily group them into the "auction"
class and discount them. I might end up clicking on several,
only to find they eventually lead to eBay anyway.

I feel - might as well be up front about an ad's overall
purpose so that people can make a decision
about it right then and there - including moving
on to a different ad.


 3:14 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

The more I read the defenses made for the affiliate non-real-domain ads, the more I am genuinely being further convinced they fundamentally have no place in the AdWords adspace whatsoever.

Find out all about KEYWORD.


I appreciate the inputs here, but it is only proving my point all the more.

I do sincerely understand that people will defend their gravy train as affiliate advertisers, but the reality is, affiliates have no place in the AdWords adspace.

As it keeps proving to be, It's just that simple.


 3:24 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

There is simply too much unaccountability, fraud, irrelevance, and dillution of the adspace product by allowing affiliates.

Unaccountable to whom? Fraud, where does that come from? If the ads aren't making money, they don't run for very long. Affiliates don't drive up bid prices [much] becuase they don't have the available margins to do so. If they are significantly driving up bid prices on select keywords for any length of time, chances are they they've zeroed in on exactly what works in a particular market.


 3:24 am on Nov 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

ones that have different destination URLs but whose purpose is still to direct the user to eBay,the destination shopping portal or whatever

Yes, that could be a problem. But that's for Google to sort out when they're approving ads. They'll instantly know if they click on an ad and it leads to an Ebay or Amazon page. They could also easily write some code to check that for them.

Maybe another necessary step would be to do away with display urls, and require that they be the same domain as the actual link url.

Regardless of whether or not affiliates are allowed (I don't like them, but I can live with them) there is absolutely no user benefit to having two ads on a page leading to the same destination.

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