Marketers were shocked in mid-April with the news that Google planned to retire the Google Affiliate Network. As they say, however, when one door closes...
With that in mind, Integrate SVP of Advertiser Relations, Kyle Gale, offers an exclusive interview about what's to come with Google out of the affiliate arena.
Website Magazine: What impact will the GAN retirement have on the credibility of the affiliate marketing space? And what, if anything, should marketers know about others trying to fill GAN’s spot?
Kyle Gale: Rather than having any lasting effects on the credibility of affiliate marketing, GAN’s retirement points more to the difficulty of performance-based marketing. Google bowing out of the game highlights the biggest obstacle in the affiliate space—credibility is in short supply, causing many to shy away from what they view as “dirty” marketing.
GAN avoided this stigma due in part to Google’s brand recognition. Lesser known and newer networks won’t be able to get away with the issues that plagued GAN, because they can’t afford to lose affiliates. If you have no affiliates, you have no fulfillment; if you have no fulfillment, you have no advertisers, and you don’t get paid.
In their search for a replacement, marketers need to be aware of these lesser-known solutions and ask the right questions before getting involved. It’s not just the name of the network or the high payouts that matter. What they’re doing to ensure quality will prove to be more significant—and ultimately determine if the network thrives or ends in an early retirement.
WM: What factors do you believe led to the GAN retirement?
KG: GAN was a part of Google’s 2007 acquisition of DoubleClick. It was never a priority for Google to make GAN a flagship product, and as a result, Google didn’t give it the attention needed for growth and dominance. Affiliates continually found fault with the lack of tools and support offered, compared to other vendors in the industry, and advertisers were seeing their returns on ad spend decreasing at disproportionate rates. Google knows as well as any company that when things aren’t working out, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate.
WM: Why will the next fold be the blind affiliate and ad networks and what do advertisers need to know?
KG: Blind affiliate and ad networks offer nothing to advertisers with regard to vendor insights. Networks must maintain a certain level of anonymity to protect themselves from circumvention, but vendors that offer little to no historical data on individual publishers are sealing their own fates.
Advertisers should partner with the affiliates that make sense for their objectives—that means having access to company descriptions, performance statistics, verticals of expertise and references when available. Without these bare minimum offerings, it’s difficult for advertisers to buy media from a network standpoint.
WM: Anything else you’d like to add?
KG: The highest quality-producing vendors will offer tools and support to advertisers and publishers, helping both groups adapt to an ever-changing marketing landscape. By paying constant attention to industry trends—and providing features that ensure quality and limit fraud—leading affiliate management systems will redefine the industry’s standards for performance marketing. Along with blind affiliate and ad networks, channel-specific vendors will lose ground to omni-channel affiliate platforms that feature consolidated access to all of their affiliate spend from a single dashboard.