Monday, 16 March 2009

The End of Google's Affiliate Programs?

When Google launched their referral buttons, Darren over at raised a pretty interesting point. He speculated on whether Google’s link-up with Firefox marked the start of a range of affiliate products for publishers that Google were planning to roll out.
Now that the buttons have been around for a while, I have to say that I’d be pretty surprised if Google decided to try out any more.
I’m not aware of anyone making any serious money out of them. The ad units are great. The link units can do pretty well. The image ads not so much. And the referral buttons might buy someone a small coffee once a month... provided they have an audience which has never heard of Firefox.
The real problem with the referral buttons we were offered was that they just weren’t very competitive. There’s a whole range of different affiliate programs that we can sign up to online and the payment terms that Google was offering just didn’t beat what was out there -- a dollar for a download? One hundred dollars when someone you’ve signed up for AdSense breaks a century? You’ll probably do better sending people to some dating site or pushing books at Amazon.
The buttons don’t do any harm. But I don’t think anyone really expects them to do a great deal of good either.
The fact that we haven’t seen any additions to these programs suggests that Google has picked up the message that affiliate programs just aren’t their strong points. In fact, I don’t think AdSense has produced anything yet that beats the basic ad unit. That was a killer idea... and no one’s beaten it yet. We’ve had a few false starts when companies have brought out some attractive new products but the bottom line is that it’s still the good old AdSense ad unit that’s keeping those fat checks coming in.
That doesn’t mean that Google shouldn’t be looking for new ways to make us all a little richer. But they need to be original if they’re going to make it work, and do something that no one else has done.
Or they can just focus on rolling out new formats and adjusting the Smart Pricing so that my prices go up. I’d be happier if they just did that than offer more affiliate buttons.
Joel Comm is The Internet Revenue Expert. Online for over 20 years, Joel teaches people how to make money in the digital age. The recognized authority on Google AdSense, Joel teaches how to multiply your AdSense income at The AdSense Code. To ask Joel Comm a question about making money online, visit Joel invites you to download a free copy of The Internet Money Tree at
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