Ahh- memory road… Rowdy Roddy Piper and JunkYard Dog going at it! Or who can forget Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan. WWF in it’s glory days. As a child I loved this stuff! Maybe I knew it was fake- maybe I didn’t- but I remember it fondly. And, every Saturday morning amongst the Smurfs, Voltron, Speed Racer, Fraggle Rock, there was the wonderful “WWF Superstars” cartoon- that I wholly enjoyed.
I am not a fan of violence and have since fallen off the wrestling band wagon and have never been into those cage matches. However, if that’s how people get their jollies beating each other- more power to them If they can get people to pay to watch them bash their heads in- god bless America. In these scenarios you have willing participants and everyone knows the rules and what’s expected… even if does end ugly.
I think it is sad – and ultimately far more violent what Google is doing to affiliates. Google is laying the smack down on affiliates without much notice- nary any instructions that don’t include a lot of ambiguity. Unlike the WWF- this isn’t fake. It’s affecting people’s lives and our economy and to the degree it is happening is a genocide of affiliate marketing. Google doesn’t see this clearly- and while they may do a lot of things right- and will make a lot more money than I ever will- they are in the wrong on this one.
I understand Google trying to keep their product as clean as possible. So they throw out arbitrary instructions that don’t really make sense and are contrary to the history of commerce. The reality is there are a lot of stores, products in the brick and mortar world that are crap! It is ultimately up to the consumer to choose the path they want to acquire their knowledge or products. Online, if they don’t like what they see it takes .000045 milliseconds to get to the next offering. If a website isn’t providing value- it ultimately will not make money and get weeded out. Just like a restaurant that has terrible food- might do well on opening day- but one month later will likely be empty.
Some of you may know what I am talking about and some may not. Google is evaluating sites and banishing them from Pay Per Click marketing if, in their opinion mind you, they feel a website’s primary purpose is to redirect a person to another website.
Now, some of this clean up could be good- if a website is misleading or lying to the consumer- that should be removed. Ie- if someone is shopping for Barbies and they click on a link that takes them to a marijuana paraphernalia website they can’t back click on- that needs to be removed.
However, if someone is shopping for auto insurance- per se- and they end up on an affiliate site that takes them to an insurance carrier- then so be it… at the end of the day- the value to the consumer is getting to an insurance product- protecting themselves and their family- and potentially saving money. If the consumer happened to take a path through the affiliate- that was how they preferred to shop… or research information, or whatever it was that appealed the consumer to that store front. What is wrong w/ that? Who is Google to shut this down? Just a big bully flexing their muscles irresponsibly- and it will eventually catch up to them. They are cheating both the consumer and the affiliate and ultimately themselves. While they are an incredible company- they could be soooo much better… like by having account managers for paying customers!
I have two examples that are counter intuitive and highlight why this is wrong and the policy needs to be revised.
One- I had an affiliate for 5 plus years. He doesn’t have his own insurance product- but arbitrages his traffic to a few different partners based on filter questions. His site has thousands of articles on Auto insurance- and even a free ‘ebook’. Google came by and shut his account down overnight. I used to provide his insurance product fulfillment- and he sold no fewer than 20,000 policies over 5 years. That is 20K people who have peace of mind when they get in an auto accident, or when an uninsured drive hits them, and probably saved money along the way. This doesn’t even account for all the people that found more information through his articles.
My second example is the real kicker- same thing… arbitrages the physical product- but also has tons and tons of valuable information on his website. Google’s organic algorithm has him listed #1 or #2 is several of the top keywords for top industry terms. Yet he can’t buy clicks on the same keywords. So, according to Google’s own algorithmic evaluation that focuses on consumer behavior- he has an exceptionally valuable site- he is top of the charts. Yet, when it comes to their arbitrary, opinion-based algorithm for AdWords- he is left in the dust.
Google- leave commerce to supply and demand and natural marketplaces. If something doesn’t have value to the consumer people will not buy a product and it will not be able to fund itself (case in point- the housing market). Stick to what you are good at- or have you forgotten what that is at this point. Kinda like actors/actresses and political outbursts- we don’t’ want to hear what you have to say- we just want to utilize your product.
Affiliates- it is a good idea to provide value so consumers will want to come back… and good luck fighting a bully who doesn’t abide by their own rules and logic.
PS. Bing and Yahoo- pay attention to this misstep- it is your opportunity to eventually surpass the industry giant.