Someone asked me the other week about the Google Buy button and how it’s may impact affiliate marketing. Although nobody can say exactly how it will impact it, the Google Buy button could really help value adding affiliates, potentially remove some of the poaching that low value partners may take credit for. It could also help to drive more conversions for high value partners that introduce and re-introduce customers to a merchant’s store.
Before I get into this post, I want people to stop hitting the panic button and actually evaluate the potential impact (as of now) of the Google Buy button. From what I can see, there is no threat to affiliate marketing. If you take a couple minutes to read the short announcement from Google instead of reading the random posts about it, you’ll see that it will probably help the affiliate channel, not hurt it.
Here’s the post from the tech show where Google made the announcement so you can read for yourself.
The Google buy button:
- Will only apply on paid listings (the merchant is paying for these!)
- For now will only apply to PLA ads (This shouldn’t affect affiliate tracking)
- This only applies to mobile devices and not desktops
If you read the announcement you’ll see that the Google Buy button is one of Google’s solutions to help close more gaps between mobile to desktop sales which again should help affiliates make more money. More tracked sales mean more commissions, networks can get more fees, the merchant has better attribution and everyone that adds value wins.
Now quit hitting the panic button and start getting excited about how this can help you to earn more if you’re a value adding partner, show the real value of your channel if you’re an in house affiliate manager and also watch as your value adding partners start to become more loyal if you’re an outsourced affiliate program manager because they may now have the opportunity to get credit for more of their sales.
How the Google Buy Button Can Help Affiliate Marketing
The thing you have to remember is that if you did your job as an Affiliate, you introduced the end user to the merchant or showed them where to shop for a solution to a problem. By doing this and having them click on your link, your cookie or tracking should be set. Because it’s set, as long as the pixel fires, you’re good to go and will get credit. Knowing this, here’s why the Google Buy button can be very good for everyone that adds value in the affiliate marketing channel.
There’s Better Tracking With Less Device Switching
The biggest benefit I can see is that people don’t have to struggle by shopping while using a mobile device. By not changing devices to make a purchase, the pixel can recognize the referral and fire which means the affiliate gets credit for their sale instead of losing it because the person shopping switches devices.
Leaks Are No Longer as Much of a Problem
If the merchant has leaks (things that will send a visitor off of their site like ads, links to other sites they own, etc…), the Google Buy button can eliminate some of the traffic fall off. If the end user goes directly to check out, they aren’t exposed to the leaks on the site and there is a clearer path to conversion. By not leaking traffic, you have the opportunity to convert more sales which also means that you may be able to earn more as an affiliate.
Increases in Conversions With Quicker Checkouts
Quicker checkouts with less interference can mean more conversions. You may not have as many cross or upsells as a regular shopping cart (this lowers your AOV) but even with a lower AOV, a higher conversion rate can mean more money. It can also mean higher commissions if the program you’re promoting increases commissions based on the volume of conversions. Also, if you never got commissioned on the upsells in the sales funnel, the increase in conversions may have a lower AOV, but you can earn more if you’re converting at a higher rate.
Bypass Some Fallout and Dropoff
A second benefit to affiliates from a lack of cross and upsells is that there may be less fall out. If the merchant has too many upsells or cross sells, the end user may fall out of the cart. By not having to go through a huge process, it may increase conversions and the affiliate wins (unless you were being paid commissions on upsells and cross sells).
Protection From Some Toolbars
Some affiliate toolbars activate when the end user gets to a merchant’s website. Because you still have to send the original referral through a link to the merchants site so that you can set a cookie, the affiliate toolbar may still be able to fire and try to replace your tracking cookie with theirs. However, some affiliate toolbars may only fire upon checkout or when the toolbar sees a coupon code box. If the end user never makes it to this step because they stay on Google.com, you may now have protection from your tracking being overwritten.
Who Might Be Impacted
Obviously some affiliates and programs will be impacted by the Google Buy button. As Google brings it into other channels (if they do) it could affect high valuue adding partners, however it is unlikely it will be a bad thing. The partners that may have a negative impact from the Google Buy button are the ones that rely on the merchant to have their own traffic so that they can interfere with it.
If the end user can checkout without going to the merchant’s site, there are less ways to intercept the shopper and take credit for the sale. This means that some of the low to non value adding partners may be the ones who take a hit from the Google Buy button. Here are two examples where it could have a negative impact on sales.
- If your affiliates rank for your URL or brand + coupons, but the person doesn’t get prompted to enter a coupon code, they may not do a search and the merchant doesn’t have to pay a commission. The quick checkout can help create an instant sale eliminating the need for the code and the shopper to leave your site.
- If it’s a toolbar or adware affiliate that fires over the merchant’s website, but the end user never leaves the search results because they checkout by clicking buy now, the toolbar may not realize it’s a merchant they are affiliated with and not try to intercept the sale.
If your partners are interrupting the end user, then they are the ones who may be impacted since the shopper may not have to leave the Google search results. Because of this, merchants and some affiliates have an extra layer of protection and actually come out ahead. Partners that rely on intercepting the traffic already on the merchant’s site or heading to the merchant’s site are the ones who may feel the strongest negative impact.
I’m excited for the Google Buy button. It can help make sure affiliates get credit for some of the sales that would have been lost by the end user switching devices and it could mean better tracking and attribution. I’m excited to see it launch and am definitely going to be watching closely if any of my clients decide to try it with their PLA ads.