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Day of the affiliate coming to an end?



10:49 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Does the start of Froogle mean the end of affiliate sites that sell products? I think it does.

Most affiliates do not fit the criteria to get into Froogle. So, Froogle becomes a big retailer only club. I have a feeling that this will be an economic disaster for both companies that rely on affiliates to sell products and for small business sites that sell these products. Some companies that offer affiliate programs have upward of 10,000 affiliates. That's 10,000 small businesses!

What experience does the end user want? I've looked through Froogle. It's pretty cool if you know what you want. If not, it's page after page of mind numbing pictures and prices. It seems users would like to go to a site and peruse the products, descriptions and prices.

I don't know... I hope Google does.


11:00 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think affiliates will be around in one shape or form for a long time.

They are, after all, a form of marketing, not sales - which is what froogle concentrates on.

An analogy could be would a manufacturer stop marketing because they have secured a deal with a large retailer to supply their products? Not unless they retailer agreed a contract to be the sole distributor.

If google turned around and said that you can only sell your widgets through froogle if you have no affiliate advertising, then we would see a fall in affiliate schemes. But some retailers and manaufacturers would still choose affiliate advertising as it is more effective for their area.

Although this situation would never happen, as Google could never enforce such a policy.

I think Froogle will take a lot of work to kick off.

Like you said, its good for some people.

At the end of the day, some consumer like to compare and contrast and others impulse buy.

The latter are more likely to substanstiate the need for affiliate advertising and the former are more likely go to Froogle.

IMHO anyway! :)


PS its just turned Xmas here - merry Xmas everyone! :)


11:17 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I'm concerned that Froogle will steal visitors, therefore sales, from affiliate sales sites that can only be found in the Google index. This loss of sales would start the cycle that ends the viability of affiliate sites.

Although this is marketing tool for the company offering the program, this is definately a sales game from the perspective of the business owner using affiliate programs to make money.

Will users use both Froogle and Google? I doubt it.


11:22 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You base your argument on the assumption that the average retail site will know about Froogle and be able to get its act together enough to be able to be spidered or set up a 'feed'. Affiliates have always existed on the reality that most site owners cannot get traffic. They have had webdesigners build them sites with no 'search engine friendliness'. There is already a culture that dictates that 'buying' traffic is the only way. The chances that suddenly retail sites will become aware of the potential of Froogle is the same as being aware of the current potential of optimisation. They failed to grasp that concept so I doubt they will latch onto Froogle. Optimisation is not rocket science, and even basic tactics could turn many sites into a success. But they have never applied these simple changes, so to expect them to be suddenly aware of Froogle is unlikely. Also only a few sites can be high profile for a specific product search, the others will still have to rely on traffic from other sources, such as Google etc.

Affiliates are a valuable aid to providing Google with the ability of providing a searcher with a useful site. A few switched on retailers will benefit from Froogle, but most will continue to rely on affiliates and ppc. Affiliates will continue to benefit from the incompetence of retail sites to understand their options. Affiliates have always been a useful asset to google and I think will continue to do well. There is still a very big 'cake' out there, even with Froogle knocking around.


11:27 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The whole affiliate thing is based on the idea that visitors come to your site because they like the content. You get highly targeted setrs of eyeballs and show them some things they can buy. How can a search engine do that?

I think highly targeted affiliate marketing is still the most efficient bang for the buck for web merchants.


11:31 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

I suspect the Google index will move towards content based sites, rather than sales, which will mean that a lot of affiliate sites will need to shift their focus.

But users will still use the Google index to search for information - perhaps they may prefer Froogle for shopping - in the long term - but its not going to be mass market for quite some time yet.

At the end of the day there are a lot more people that use the Internet for finding information than there are that use it for shopping and that will always remain the same.

Affiliate sites will just have to more effort into providing the information, than targetting those looking to buy. Also, more creative and inovative affiliate advertising will have to be developed, as the generic banner ad isnt going to cut it anymore.

To this end i think there are 2 main issues that affiliate sites need to address:

1. More information

2. Subtler sales techniques.

The new web consumer isnt looking to buy, so we will have to provide them with quality information and "woo" them over a period of time in order to encourage our brand loyalty.

Having a "buy now" link will not be sufficient anymore.

This could lead to a drop in affiliate advertising, yes. This is due to the fact that many affiliate sites wont make the grade in these respects.

But those that do - those that innovate and change with the times will do better - they will be percieved to be more useful to marketers.

We could possibly see the introduction of more tiered payment schemes - the more you sell the more you make.

I think Google has nicely split up the market for web marketers.

On one hand Froogle offers a direct route to quality traffic, on the other, Google offers mass market appeal and potentially quality, subtle and efficient marketing.

I think there will be good times ahead for a lot of people - but naturally those who fail to adjust will grumble! ;)

Of course, this is all the mad ramblings of someone who has had a few beers already tonight! :)



11:57 pm on Dec 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Lately it seems there's been considerable speculation that affiliate marketing is experiencing its last gasps.

Given a long history of hostility toward affiliates among many in the web community, I think many of these assertions express wishful thinking more than anything else.

Among other things, there seems to be an unchallenged assumption that Google dislikes affiliates. I don't think this is true. Google gives short shrift to sites that contain little or no content which has, in the past, been characteristic of many affiliate sites. Many people stereotype all affiliate sites as "banner farms" which should have no place on the web.

I would agree that the stereotypical banner farm should probably rest at the bottom of the barrel.

But there are many site owners operating as affiliates, providing informative, useful and targeted pages which aid the visitor in decision making, and which frequently lead to buying decisions.

That sort of affiliate is here to stay. Indeed, there are a growing number of merchants who cultivate highly skilled affiliates - super affiliates if you will - by providing excellent support, lengthy cookies, paying well and on time and generally treating the merchant/affiliate relationship as a true partnership. In short, there are merchants who regard affiliate marketing as a uniquely effective marketing strategy. I see this as the trend in affiliate marketing.

It is the latter model that, I believe, will continue to enlarge in scope. I know, because I'm affiliated with merchants of this stripe. Even Amazon, the affiliate pioneer, has taken several positive steps lately to strengthen its affiliate program, including introducing a tiered commission structure. I doubt it would do so if this was a business model in the throes of failing.

Froogle is, IMO, nothing more than another avenue for internet merchandising. These will always come and go.

Affiliate marketing's pulse is strong, and shows no signs of ill health other than growing pains and some predatory practices by few larger affiliates which are being addressed. That's another topic. Sorry, but affiliates are not going away.


12:13 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Actually I was basing my argument on Froogle becoming the "Shopping Search Engine" and Google becoming the "Information Search Engine". I agree that most retailers will be ignorant of the process or the technology to get into Froogle. However, if Froogle is where Google is driving Web shoppers, retailers will figure it out and will build sites specifically for Froogle, which will be different than the sites and optimization skills they needed to sell products on Google.

I also agree that affiliate sites help give the user what they are looking for. I just think that Google may not think so, or may not care. I feel that Google is moving to provide Froogle for shopping, and Google for information. If this the case, they have already ruled affiliate sites out as candidates for Froogle and therfore started the demise of affiliate sites.

Taxpod: I agree. I hope that Google agrees.


I agree that things change and that those that can deal best with change have the best chance of survival. I also agree that Google is shifting into a split index. They are probably going to create a services index as well.

Anyway, I'm saying that if this is the case and Google divides the indexes up, there is simply no room for affiliates anymore. You are either a retailer and in Froogle or you are an informational site and you are in Google. No subtle sales techniques or better information works if your not there.



12:43 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My ersonal opinion is that Froogel will have less impact on Ecommerce than people here seem to think. Google does almost everything right, but I think this may go the way of their directory, which is pretty irrelevant in terms of search.

Time will tell, but I rank top for a highly competetive item on Froogle and get 0 traffic when I generate 100's of daily sales off the normal search.

Google is a corporation trying to make money and it is highly unlikely that they will entirely dismantle the Internet's best, and most popular product (their search) by eliminating products in their normal search for Froogle. That would give Yatomi the edge they needed to take over search next year.


12:48 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Imagine a site which is providing info on blue rhinoceros (purely fictional, of course). Now further imagine if there are just 2 or 3 other site providing info on blue rhinoceros. This blue rhinoceros site has a listing of all the 9 books on this topic which it sells through an affiliate program. Now say Froogle spiders the site, and lets say when you search for this topic on Froogle you get a list of all the 9 books. My question is - Doesn't the blue rhinoceros site have a copyright for that listing?


12:58 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm sure there are a number of people who think Google is finally acting in the best interests of the web by nailing the affiliate coffin shut.

I simply disagree. From a merchant's perspective, relying on gaining a good Froogle ranking among your competitors as your business plan for internet sales would be very short sighted, indeed. You need to seek multiple avenues of exposure, and affiliate marketing offers one of the best vehicles toward that end. Are you, as a merchant, going to put thousands of target product specific pages up on Froogle? Probably not.

An affiliate, on the other hand, is well suited to target specific products within a category. I don't see this strategy as one that will work well on Froogle. There's plenty of room left for affiliates.


1:09 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I would like to point out something I just saw a minute ago. I was sitting, laptop in hand, when I spotted a new Time Magazine. This issue , Dec. 30,2002/Jan 6, 2003 special double issue, has an article on page 156 titled "Buying Online. Be Froogle". This article goes on to say that looking for items on Google is no longer the way to go. In fact they say that if your looking for information, Google is the spot. However, they say that if what you want is to shop, well then you can find all you need on the new Froogle site.

Oh yeah... affiliate sites have nothing to worry about...


1:27 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well, IF I were an affilate marketing site, before I got myself into a dither over an article in any particular magazine, I'd first care what it's distribution might be amongst my target audience. If my market is not their market, I wouldn't be placing a lot of concern on their view.

Yeah, It's a fairly popular magazine, but is an article in it really any different than what's printed in a major daily newspaper in some areas? I hear tell that Ed-op pages of some dailys pack a lot of influence in some areas, but are mostly used as hamster or bird cage liner in other areas of their markets.


1:33 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I believe that this is only the beginning of a marketing push towards defining the new duality of the Google business model.

I think it would be wise to start thinking of what to do when Google drops sales sites, albeit in time, out of the Google index.


1:58 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well, you can predict all you want. Looking at the beta, here are some preliminary observations:

First, in doing some Froogle searches, there's no doubt that many affiliate sites are included, and nowhere, to my knowledge, has Google indicated they're not welcome. In fact, some of my sites are included in the beta and rank in the top ten.

Second: In performing some searches for specific keywords, the SERPs are atrociously irrelevant when compared with the main Google index.

Third: IMO, most people go to the main search engine to search initially and much less frequently turn to specialized sections. I don't think a Time article on p. 156 is going to change behavior much.

Fourth: Froogle won't show up on Yahoo (assuming Google survives there) and AOL.

Fifth: While I agree, better optimization will be required of merchants in order to compete well on Froogle, there's no reason why affiliate sites can't compete well in the fray, too. After all, your better affiliates are old hands at optimization. I'll take that challenge on any day. I've been competing with merchants for a long time. So, what's new?

Now, granted, I could be naive and have missed some pronouncement by Google that affiliate sites are toast. I haven't seen such a pronouncement except from those wishing their demise.

[edited by: Go60Guy at 2:18 am (utc) on Dec. 25, 2002]


1:58 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Go60Guy >> You need to seek multiple avenues of exposure

Truer words were never spoken. Just as the suppliers of products have learned this, so have their affiliates.

Affiliates bent on survival aren't about to lie down and die because they are banned from one marketing channel. Many affiliate marketers have outlived many search engines.

Collectively, the affiliate marketers are a large and powerful force. Someday, a wise search engine marketing guru will decide they're better off working with affiliate marketers than against them. Affiliate marketers could teach the search engines a thing or two about survival if the search engines would ever take their blinders off and listen.


2:17 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


First let's try this:

This is off the "Information for Merchants" link that is at the bottom of the Froogle site.

"Froogle points users to sites where they can buy actual products from the merchants that sell them. Therefore, to be eligible to submit a feed, you must sell products via your website and ship them to the buyer. If you sell services or custom products that do not have fixed prices, use your website only to promote an offline business, or are an affiliate marketing site, your site content may be crawled by and included in Google's web search, but it will not be included in Froogle. Nor will Froogle accept a data feed under these conditions."

This seems to indicate that affiliate sites are not welcome.

Now, I agree on most of your points. However, Froogle is in beta, right now there are still affiliate sites in Froogle. I'd guess, based on the information above, that will change.


I'm not advocating "laying down to die" and I'm all for noy putting all eggs in a single basket. I'm simply pointing out that Google seems to trying to push affiliates out and that this could affect many, many small businesses that are currently relying on, in part, the Google index


2:30 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ciml is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

It's the merchants who could kill affiliates, but why would they? If CompanyA switches to use only Froogle to market its products and CompanyB uses Froogle along with other affiliates, then CompanyB has a competitive advantage.


2:36 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I was aware of that statement, but did not interpret it to mean that Google was going to war against affiliates. And, you may be right that affiliate sites will not be included in the final analysis, assuming Froogle gets out of beta in its present form.

And, why would merchants using affiliate programs be accepting of Google's limiting their exposure on Froogle? Merchant's should question the efficacy of excluding affiliate sites. A merchant might find that their site arbitraily ends up on page 15 while an affiliate might come in #1. Under that scenario, the merchant would be thankful for the opportunity to have more quivers in their bow.

Well, lots of questions.

This leads me to wonder if drop shipping would be excluded as well. Hmmmm....

That's enough for now. Its Christmas Eve. Mayor, you're on the East Coast. Hang it up and get some sleep. And cmil, what are you doing up at this hour? Hasn't Santa already come down the UK chimney? I'm gonna go watch a movie on my new DVD player bought with affiliate earinigs. See ya later.


2:46 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member chiyo is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I've looked through Froogle. It's pretty cool if you know what you want.

c1bernaught, I think you nailed it right there. Affiliate sites only shine when they grab an interest group or community with their own brand whether it be incisive articles, directories, hints, discussion whatever. They attract people who are potential buyers but probably do not know what they want, but need guidance, or more knowledge before buying.

Affiliate sites were never meant to cater to people who know what they want already. And those sites that do - yes - i think their day is over. It was inevitable that some major database would be able to do this, indeed mysimon and manufucturers sites like Amazon pure do this already.

The affiliate site is not dead; they just have to get smarter and add real value to the purchase decision. There are masses of cookie cutter affiliate sites out there which have absolutely no value added.

To them, its bye byes and good riddance.

To smart affiliate sites, I think the future is good for creative types that really DO know their niche and market, are building their own brand for more than the short term, and are willing to out real work into it.


3:19 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

OK, Iím back. As I was just about to load the disc for my movie in my new DVD player bought with affiliate earnings, I remembered what my first reaction was to the reference to affiliate sites in the Froogle Information for Merchants.

The reference appears under the heading for Data Feeds. I thought they were saying that they only would accept data feeds from merchants. This would make sense, since Google would hardly wish to take data feeds not only from the merchant, but from 2,000 affiliates using the data feed as well. I didnít read this to mean that affiliate sites would be excluded from Froogle. I assumed they meant that affiliates with data feeds would have to rely on their listing in the main index.

When it was clear that affiliate sites were showing up in the beta, I simply assumed that this was consistent.

I could be completely wrong, of course. Not the first time. So, we'll see how this plays out.

Happy Holidays to All!


3:47 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


The scenario is a simple one:

1. Google dumps commerce sites.

2. Retailers jump to Froogle as they have little choice. Historically they have recieved the bulk of their traffic from Google. Other SE's are available but produce nowhere near the traffic.

3. Same retailers keep affiliate programs running, but now affiliate sites can only be found in SE's other than Google or Froogle. Retailer still gets sales from affiliates but at a much lower revenue #.

4. Affiliates are now hurting because they can't get enough traffic or sales to make it worth their while.

5. Hence, the end of many affiliate sites.


3:56 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well, in your scenario, many merchants who rely on affiliate traffic would also fail. Is this what Google is seeking to achieve?

In other words, in the real world, you can hire sales agents and increase your market exposure like you always have. But when it comes to the internet, you're pretty much on your own buddy.

"Yeah, You can have online sales reps if you want to, but we'll just bury them. We don't like that way of doing business here on the internet". Happy day!


4:11 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Now you see why I'm concerned.

What direction do you think this will take? Look at the evidence, objectively. Read Froogle's material. Look at where Google is going.

I don't like what the sign's are pointing to. That's all.


4:37 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well, I don't buy it. I don't think merchants will react favorably to a passing of the affiliate era. And after all, where are all those advertising bucks that were promised during the dot com bubble? They're still there. The merchants have them. Why limit their opportunities on the web? Why risk putting a bunch of them out of business?

I don't think your affiliate doomsday picture is realistic. The rules of capitalism were not repealed by by the dot com high flier, and and tried and true methods of doing business will not fall by the internet wayside either. Of necessity, ecommerce must and will operate within the outlines of a viable established system. The SEs will risk forcing proven and effective marketing strategies to be dumped at their peril.


6:23 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I think you're right. I don't buy a doom and gloom scenario either. Affiliates will survive and thrive.

We'll see what the future holds.


7:32 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Froogle futile search is a doodle Google search of worthless junk.

I only bought one thong (well several actually) via e-tailing this Xmas, some undies for the wife;) She likes Vickey's Secret so I try out Froogle. Loads of sites trying to rip off the real product, but no sign of the real site.

So I go to Google to search (sorry to say I don't know the URL off by heart....shame on me) but yep Google gives me the site I want.....more shame on me I wish I had the time to go to a store personally and enjoy the experience:)

Is Froogle the end of affliate marketing?....not a chance. Other factors maybe....but not Froogle.

Is Froogle going to be a major search engine for commercial products in the future?.....I doubt it!

Froogle assumes people want to buy before they have looked.....major mistake! Ask any wife, looking is the most important part of shopping! A fair few males will probably agree also!

Full disclosure....Affiliate marketing accounts for less than 1% of my revenue.....personally I don't much care about its long term survival....just an opinion that Froogle isn't going to hurt those that do;)


8:38 am on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

c1bernaught -

"1. Google dumps commerce sites."

I think you missed out this bit.....

2. Google now looses a huge market share because it has dropped commercial sites. The serps are now dull information sites only...

3. Altavista, yahoo etc gain market share and affiliates prosper.

If you look at the top searches on Google many are directed at commercial sites. If google drops commercial sites it no longer becomes a 'one stop' comprehensive search engine. People search for simple generic terms rather than product names. The google results are a nice mix of retailers, information sites and related sites. I often find myself searching for one thing and then discovering different ideas because of the search results. This is what makes google interesting and comprehensive. Froogle is very dull in comparison and will thus be less interesting for the average searcher. People don't know exactly what they want, so variety in the serps is helpfull. Froogle is too focused to ever become popular. Affiliate sites often are the most interesting, providing variety and different ideas. Affiliates have made a lot of money because they are imaginative and clever, with a broad range of products. If Google drop affiliates they will loose that mix of interesting serps that makes 'surfing' fun.


12:24 pm on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ciml is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

c1bernaught, it's a huge leap from "the start of Froogle" to "if Google dumps commercial sites". I agree with Michael, something quite so ridiculous would loose Google market share.

Anyway, what's a commercial site? If you have a good, popular resource about widgets with good Google rankings, then I can't see that Google would dump you for having a "buy widgets" affiliate link.

On the other hand, there are the 'empty' affiliate sites out there which have no indexable content of value and just act as a bridge from Google to the merchant. Those affiliates tend to know the score (at least the successful ones); they know that Google wasn't designed to make them money, and they know they need to work against Google to stay afloat. This is the case, with or without Froogle or AdWords.

I do predict a lot of complaints from site owners who believe that Google penalised them for competing with Froogle, just as they believe the same about AdWords now.


1:31 pm on Dec 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Froogle, IMO, should be taken as some kind of writing on the wall. By the prickling in my thumbs, something wicked this way comes - corporate America!
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