Whitey - 9:03 pm on Sep 16, 2011 (gmt 0)
Google intends to drive affiliates out of business (but then we already knew that).
From a business perspective Google is a central pivot to the e-economy. It makes sense for them to direct as much of that economy via itself by eliminating affiliates and/or other sites that do not add value, since Google has the opportunity to monetise direct relationships with business with larger ad margins on a shortened supply chain and vastly increase it's profit.
So the mantra appears to be eliminate affiliates by default & connect SME's ( small,medium enterprises ) using places. Google's goal seems to be to make every business on the planet effectively one of it's own affiliates, monetising the relationship wherever it can.
If you have affiliate channels , those partners need to add more than just publish price comparisons, badges , similar or same content. It wouldn't surprise me if Google knows via it's algorithmn , who those sites associate with, and just for that they may have a lower quality score.
I'm looking at several sets of SERP results, and only one very precarious affiliate ( with lots of aggregated content ) that has been effected in the long tail appears in the top 10 results.