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Google getting rid of affiliates?
adcat




msg:3013450
 7:16 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just thought you might be interested in a post my biz partner made in another forum. We have been calling google for the past week trying to figure out what is going on and asking them what is wrong with the quality of our site. Here is the post from my biz partner:


<snip>

So if the algorithm determines that you are an affiliate, then all your keywords get whacked. I'm sure a lot of you suspected this, but now someone from Google finally admitted it to us.

[edited by: engine at 12:02 pm (utc) on July 19, 2006]
[edit reason]
[1][edit reason] See TOS [webmasterworld.com] 9 & 10 [/edit]
[/edit][/1]

 

TypicalSurfer




msg:3013457
 7:20 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

It certainly clears the way for their own CPA program.

Alex_Miles




msg:3013458
 7:21 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

And the merchants are getting booted out too, some of them. But will be offered a way back in via the Google checkout.

Subtle.

Thanks for posting this.

bostonseo




msg:3013467
 7:31 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Press release :)

luke175




msg:3013469
 7:32 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

So what about people like me without any affiliate websites that got hit?

No luck I suppose unless I want to pay $10 per click.

beren




msg:3013470
 7:33 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Awesome.

sidewinder




msg:3013484
 7:41 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

No big deal really. Back to cloaking and redirection.
That's more fun, anyway.

vanillaice




msg:3013509
 7:50 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Can someone please clear up what exactly an 'affiliate' site is? I'm getting confused between all these different labels for sites.

adcat




msg:3013521
 7:57 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Affiliates sites get commissions from merchants, usually through a third party company like commission junction, linkshare, etc.. They post links on their site, and when someone clicks on a link and purchases a product at the merchant site, the affiliate site gets a commission. The third party tracks clicks, sales, and commissions.

vanillaice




msg:3013539
 8:08 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yikes, that's what I thought that was.

That's pretty much all I do with Adwords, as many do. I don't create MFA sites, but I do make affiliate sites, although I try to at least make them decent looking and relevant.

Weird they would want to cut all that out. I know many of them are junk, but it's a bummer for those who really spend time building landing pages for specific products, which are usually far more relevant than the generic search result listings they seem to allow from ebay, etc.

I'll be shocked if this is true, just seems like they're cutting out a HUGE part of their business that way. Don't get me wrong, some real junk, scammy looking affiliate sites are one thing, but there are many legitimate ones that are far better and more relevant than the generic ads placed by the 'big boys'.

Alex_Miles




msg:3013547
 8:11 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

The dirt world comparison would perhaps be a franchise.

Ah. I see you got it.

Yeah. They are going after a whole business model. Two actually when you count the smaller merchants.

After the big stick comes the Google Checkout Carrot.

Whoopee doo.

[edited by: Alex_Miles at 8:14 pm (utc) on July 18, 2006]

Tom_PR




msg:3013557
 8:15 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

The problem with doing that is that it's redundant.
When they made it so that only one instance of a display URL per keyword would be shown, that effectively limited the affiliate exposure to 1 per keyword from any specific "store front".

Once again, if this was paid inclusion in SERPS, it would make sense. But these are paid ads. So it is kind of senseless IMHO.

Philosopher




msg:3013598
 8:36 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well, it's not really redundant. When they introduced the 1 keyword per URL thing, the smart affiliates simply created landing pages. The visitor was then sent their, then redirected to the actual store front when they clicked the link on the landing page.

Eventually, they ended up at the same place.

I'm guessing, if the OP is being truthful (which I have no reason to believe they aren't), the quality control team decided they didn't like the fact that there were X number of different ads with different URLs all eventually ending up at the same place...thus a new way of dealing with the issue was developed.

Tom_PR




msg:3013620
 8:46 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yes true. I've seen that. Generally what I've seen are landing pages that offer several different similar products/services, rather than a straight redirect though. So there should be some added value to the user such as comparison shopping, and personal testimony and such.

Ah well, I guess we'll just see how it all shakes out an adjust accordingly.

RockSolidWes




msg:3013624
 8:47 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Most affiliate sites are of poor landing page quality, and do not follow the principles Google has outlined in their rules.

I believe you can be an affiliate of many companies and Google will list you if you provide ADDITIONAL content, that makes you unique from the other bidders.

wrgvt




msg:3013635
 8:57 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm guessing, if the OP is being truthful (which I have no reason to believe they aren't), the quality control team decided they didn't like the fact that there were X number of different ads with different URLs all eventually ending up at the same place...thus a new way of dealing with the issue was developed.

Google decided, with a very large hammer, that every affiliate was a poor quality addition. There are many instances of AdWords ads that go directly to e-commerce site where the only information about a product is very basic. The e-commerce landing page shows a picture, a price, a buybox, etc. It's as if they're working under the assumption that their visitor has already done their research and are ready to buy when they arrive. It's like "You want it? Here it is, buy it, and we'll ship it to you." Note that this happens on big e-commerce sites as well as small ones.

Affiliates could make good money using AdWords to drive traffic to their sites and provide all the details, reviews, comparisons, etc. about the product in question. They've helped the purchaser research the product, put them in a buying mood, provided a link to the e-commerce site where the sale is made. Good affiliate sites provide a win/win situation for everyone. Google makes money off the ad, the e-commerce site makes money from the sale, the affiliate earns his commission, and the visitor finds the information they need and makes an informed purchase of the product. The affiliate is risking his money buying the ads, assuming the financial risk, and counting on his skills to write a good ad and provide a web site that has enough quality to ensure a profit.

I'll be first to admit that there are poor quality affiliate sites out there. Nobody wants to click an ad that takes them a site that basically just makes them click another link to get to the e-commerce site they should have just gone to originally.

Google has decided in one fell swoop to cut out all affiliates. Does this mean that Google isn't smart enough to tell a good affiliate site from a poor one? Probably not. They must have other reasons, which will probably be obvious in the near future.

rbacal




msg:3013641
 9:05 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google has decided in one fell swoop to cut out all affiliates

It's very sad that webmasterworld is being used to provide potentially misleading, and even costly "information" to people who accept the "information" as fact.

You seem to accepted the word of an unknown source about what he was told by an unknown google person, and passed to you by a relatively unknown member here.

I do believe that more and hopefully better information will be available over the next weeks, but I really hope people just hold up on drawing the kinds of conclusions you are obviously drawing.

It's simple. Don't swallow this stuff as fact. At least, not yet. I'm fairly confident your particular statement is not true enough to be useful, and it's not complete.

wrgvt




msg:3013645
 9:08 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Prove me wrong.

adcat




msg:3013652
 9:21 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)


It's very sad that webmasterworld is being used to provide potentially misleading, and even costly "information" to people who accept the "information" as fact.

You seem to accepted the word of an unknown source about what he was told by an unknown google person, and passed to you by a relatively unknown member here.

I do believe that more and hopefully better information will be available over the next weeks, but I really hope people just hold up on drawing the kinds of conclusions you are obviously drawing.

It's simple. Don't swallow this stuff as fact. At least, not yet. I'm fairly confident your particular statement is not true enough to be useful, and it's not complete.

Fact: My associate called adwords support at 866-246-6453
Fact: The support person on the line told him this information

The readers in this forum are capable of drawing their own conclusions based on these facts. Is it possible that this adwords rep is full of $h1t? Sure it is. I am just repeating what they said. From all the facts I have gathered reading most of the forums on the net that are talking about this stuff, I believe it to be true. Do you have to? No. I am just putting this info out here for anyone that is interested.

And yes, please prove me wrong! Sorry, but I am not that optimistic at this point.

vanillaice




msg:3013666
 9:36 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

I take it by 'proving' people wrong, that the cutting is not complete?

It's easy to prove you wrong right now. Just do some searches, there are still plenty of affiliate sites being listed.

Fryman




msg:3013671
 9:39 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

*yawn*

Hey, the brother of the girlfriend of my neighbor's cousin called Google, and his rep said that soon Google will start charging you per search. yes, every time you do a Google search you will have to pay a cent.

Prove me wrong

*yawn*

jkwilson78




msg:3013678
 9:43 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Prove me wrong.

I offer up my dozen+ affiliate sites that have remained 100% intact and all the other affiliate sites I see every day since the change still running ads.

Maybe they're not done with the algo rollout but that theory as it stands now can't hold up.

Only time will tell.

Soze




msg:3013690
 9:52 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Don't believe that because there is no way to tell who is an affiliate and who works for a company.

Maybe I work for ecommercesite.com and I am sending traffic to it via normal tracking codes. Does that make me an affiliate? I don't think so.

vanillaice




msg:3013696
 9:55 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

One of the larger shopping sites on the net, bizrate.com I believe is just an affiliate site.

Would they be banned from Google?

wrgvt




msg:3013722
 10:22 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Until AWA or Google makes an official statement that they will allow quality affiliate web sites to advertise via AdWords, I'll be assuming otherwise. I'd love to be wrong.

So AWA, I'm asking. Can quality affiliate web sites advertise via AdWords? You don't have to go into detail over what constitutes a quality affiliate web site, although that would be greatly appreciated. A simple yes or no would go a long way.

The reason I think this thread is important is that I don't want some poor schlep putting together an affiliate web site, or pouring energy into redesigning an existing web site in hopes of improving its quality score, wasting their time thinking they can generate traffic via AdWords without paying outrageous costs per click.

OceanDoctor




msg:3013736
 10:40 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for this post. This is consistent with the direct experience my colleague and I had with Google over the past week.

My colleague and I manage two interlinked affiliate product review sites -- let's call mine site A, his site B. Our total AdWords spend last year was about $150K. Site A is in pretty good shape while site B has seen 90% of its keywords shoot up in minimum CPC by 5000% or more.

Both sites have original content, though site A has more extensive original content and more pages than site B. Site B features only top-rated products and reorganizes some of the content from the merchant site such that it is essentially "optimized" for visitors looking to compare products through a product review "lense." Neither site is MFA or appears as such. Both sites are profitable and approaching two years of age.

The affiliate program manager at the merchant site told me in May that our sites represent exactly the kind of site they like to see among their affiliates.

Despite several appeals last week on behalf of site B at Google, they indicated that there was no "value proposition" that site B offers that users couldn't get from going directly to the merchant site, i.e., they made a subjective judgment that it doesn't provide any additional or unique information, a judgment at odds with reality and with the merchant's own opinon. It's also worth mentioning that site B converts far better than when identical AdWords ads send visitors directly to the merchant site...my colleague carefully tested this.

What I find so infuriating is that Google's Quality Score Specialists are applying criteria subjectively and inconsistently, making further investment in modifying one's web site pure folly as there is simply no way to be sure that it will ever be pleasing to the Quality gods. In other words, the unpredictability and subjectivity of the Quality Score process has introduced unacceptable risk into a tool that was once our bread and butter. We are now managing that risk the only way we can -- moving our advertising investment to adCenter, Ask, Kanoodle, etc.

Frustrating...it's enough to drive one to poetry... :)

charliemunger




msg:3013806
 11:42 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

I spent about 45 minutes today prodding my rep for reasons, and she was v vague. I think she genuinely didnt know.

I have no doubt that your friend was told they are coming down on affiliates but my guess is that there is so much misinformation at the lower levels of G$$$Plex that they know less than us.

I think it might be true though, but given the sites that have/havent been affected I find it a little crazy.

I mean collateral damage is one thing but this looks like something else, and a lot of non affiliate says have been hit while affiliate sites havent.

If engineers have created this mess, because Google is really arrogant enough to think it can create an algorithm to define market demand on a micro-micro-level, then I think we can all pack up our bags right now.

I am beginning to think they arent that arrogant and that manual review plays a larger part in the process than was originally thought

iblaine




msg:3013813
 11:51 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Maybe the determining factor isn't being an affiliate site but not being a low-quality affiliate site. There are plenty of affiliate sites with over the top doorway pages that should not be part of any users online experience.

rbacal




msg:3013815
 11:53 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am beginning to think they arent that arrogant and that manual review plays a larger part in the process than was originally thought

In order to create an algo like this, you have to start with a human manual review of a sample of sites. You classify (using subjective human judgment) which sites are desirable and which sites aren't. Then you identify the characteristics of the sites you don't want by isolating variables that distinguish between the two groups. It's a form of discriminant analysis, statistically speaking. Those distinguishing characteristics may or may not have any logical connection to what's good or not -- they just have to separate the two.

Then you use those variables for your algo.

So, there has to be human manual reviews, at least to start with.

The next step, once you have the algo up and running is you do human cross checking on the results, both to test, and then in production. You check to look at the false positives and false negatives, and then you tweak the algorithm to reduce both. And you look at revenue data.

It's early. They know the algo isn't perfect (which is why they've invited people to ask for manual reviews). It will get tweaked.

Which is one reason for not trying to game the system (in effect try to cheat the system), because as the algo is tweaked, it's likely the ridiculous bids will be reduced or even eliminated for many people. If you do stupid things, you may not be in adwords when that happens.

Alex_Miles




msg:3013848
 12:27 am on Jul 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Rbcal,

That does make sense. Google are known for doing the beta testing in public. Or on the public :(

Reminds me of the AI that was trained to identify tanks in photos. All it ever managed to identify was sunny days, because thats when the tank photos had been taken.

This 38 message thread spans 2 pages: 38 ( [1] 2 > >
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