So a Client and I parted ways but rejoined together again about a month or two ago. While I was absent from the program they had partnered with other Networks than Share a Sale, which is my personal favorite, and one of those Networks was the Google Affiliate Network.
It had been at least a year since I had logged into the Google Affiliate Network interface and they had made a few changes since Google took over and Performics/DoubleClick ended. After cleaning out the Adware/Toolbar Affiliates that were allowed in while the program was under other Management, I went through to see what changes Google had made since taking over Performics/DoubleClick.
The first thing I noticed was a new recruiting feature that lets you see the VIPs, Rising Stars, etc… Affiliates in their Network and also provides you with an email address so you can contact them. This is great for recruiting new Affiliates if you don’t already know them, but can also be bad if the Affiliate doesn’t want you to contact them. It is important to learn how to write a proper Affiliate Recruitment Email and how to relate your offer and your store to their site and why you have a good fit for them. Having amazing tracking (not true if you are on a Network with every other Merchant, you all have the same tracking), the best store (why is it the best, just because you own it or work their doesn’t make it the best), you offer coupons (so do most of your competitors, how does this make you different?), etc… is just Marketing fluff and nothing of actual value to your potential new Affiliate Partners. You need to actually give examples of where your program meshes with their sites and what actually makes it different while also including information that is relevant to their sites about your program.
I personally love this feature from a Merchant standpoint. However, I didn’t see all of the VIPs that I know are in the Google Affiliate Network so it may be an opt in recruitment tool which makes it a more Affiliate friendly feature since the Affiliates would have to opt in to have their email addresses shared with all of the Merchant’s on the Network.
The tool offers many different features and filters you can use to help you recruit. You can sort by performance, VIP or Rising Star Status, by type of Affiliate like Loyalty, etc… I have definitely started writing custom emails to different non adware Affiliates with that tool for this Client on the Google Affiliate Network.
The next difference I noticed was their Datafeeds. You now have to link your account with Google Base in order to upload a datafeed for your Affiliates to use.
My first reaction was a thought that they may be crossing your GoogleBase Account with Affiliate Tracking and now you have to pay Network fees on your Google Base sales which in my opinion should always be free. Before I decided to write about this and make a false claim I contacted my rep at Google Affiliate Network and asked him if the two would cross and we would have to pay fees on Google Base sales. He sent me back an email detailing how it works and he also confirmed that the feeds will remain separate and you will still get your Google Shopping listings for free just like you would without having a Google Affiliate Network Account. The difference is by being on the Google Affiliate Network they use your feed to put you in an Auction system to get Paid Ads on a rev. share basis within Google Homepage Search Results. This is a very valuable thing to have and actually a huge selling point that pretty much only Google can offer. There are some downsides to it, but lets not get to into those.
Anyways, I am overall impressed with some of the changes Google has made but I am still waiting for them to add in a few things that I think every Network should offer like an internal Emailing System or tool. Education to Merchants about Toolbars and Adware if they allow it in their Networks and Video Tools for Affiliates since video has become a huge part of many Affiliate sites.
Overall I am impressed from a Merchant standpoint (not an Affiliate Standpoint) with some of the new changes in Google and hope they continue to move in a positive direction.