by Jeff Molander
If you’re like me, you buy advertising on Google AdWords and have opted out of having your advertisements displayed across Google’s network of syndicated affiliate partners. The syndicated product is called AdSense and features less tracking functionality than Google AdWords (i.e. you cannot track your ads to a conversion/desired action such as a purchase or sign-up). For this, and other reasons I won’t get into here, AdSense simply isn’t of value to me (for an interesting read on pros and cons check Mark Glaser).
Does this mean that my AdWords ads won’t appear on Web pages filled with real or “fake” content? No, it does not fellow advertisers and this means you too. Your ads may end up here, here or here just as mine are in the case of Yahoo! Search’s ContentMatch product.
What does this mean? Essentially, it means that our ads are not just showing up at Google.com based on keywords we’ve purchased. They’re ending up on these sites which Google’s affiliates use to fraudulently collect click referral fees. How might someone end up at such a listing of ads (including yours)? In any number of ways including adware but that’s another story. More common is the arbitrage game - affiliates themselves purchasing keywords at lower cost sources (i.e. FindWhat’s network) and sending the user/clicker on to their page - filled with more expensive clicks that YOU pay for yet which they split with Google.
What’s more frightening from an advertiser’s perspective, if a fraudster doesn’t wish to take the time to game Google or Yahoo, they (actually, just about anyone) can purchase Web sites with “content” (sometimes stolen news feeds… sometimes nothing but re-purposed ads). Shopping for one? Just click AdSenseSitesForSale.com.
So… how difficult is it for companies like Google and Yahoo to curb this kind of thing? Deadly simple as I see it. The likelihood of these companies taking any kind of action soon on it? Nil.Close
October 03, 2005
by Jeff Molander
Are revenues associated with affiliate marketing programs moving beyond flat-lining and actually declining among multi-channel online retailers? The answer would appear to be yes given my recent conversations with executive decision-makers at large and mid-sized marketers alike who, broadly speaking, report the below factors driving this phenomenon:
1) Decreased competition in organic/natural search engine listings (with affiliates; due to search engine algorithm changes that penalize search-based affiliates)
2) Increased competition in paid search advertising (with affiliates and competitors) resulting in new rules that decrease affiliate sales volume
1) Decreasing expectations of affiliate marketing programs
2) Decreasing funding of affiliate programs (shrinking budgets)
To be clear, my comments focus exclusively on multi-channel retailers and direct marketers… and conversations I’ve been having via executive level consultations and/or networking at conferences.
In summary, multi-channel marketers are reporting a decrease in expectation when it comes to affiliate programs as evidenced by Internet Retailer’s report released last week wherein they asked…
“How effective is affiliate marketing in generating online sales compared to other forms of marketing that you use to promote your retail web site?”
How did retailers rate affiliate marketing?
17% highly effective
20% somewhat more effective
47% about the same or slightly less effective (versus other online marketing strategies)
That’s only 37% of retail organizations suggesting that their affiliate program is more effective than other strategies.... leaving a clear majority suggesting otherwise. In fact, an equal number (37%) told Internet Retailer that affiliate marketing was “somewhat or much less” effective. What happened?! Needless to say this is being under-reported in trade media yet is dramatically “off” of countless surveys past where retailers touted the pay-for-performance model as the hands-down-most-effective.
Source: Internet Retailer Mag.
Catalogers Report Fewer Sales
Over half of marketers using catalogs report less than 5% of total online sales coming from affiliates and nearly 80% reporting less than 10% attributed to affiliates. This, again, is going largely unreported and pairs well with the private conversations I’ve been involved with that center on the above trends and are causing marketers to look more closely at how affiliates go about sending sales. Suddenly affiliates using paid search media, product data feeds and adware are coming into focus.
Yet other recently-released studies such as Marketing Sherpa’s Search Marketing Benchmark Guide confirm the same trend. The survey of over 3,000 marketers (not all of whom engage in affiliate marketing) reveals market realities that include:
There are more interesting data in this report that I may discuss at a later date.Close
October 03, 2005
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