Google Affiliate Network (GAN) is closing. The affiliate industry took to Facebook, Twitter and Blogs by the hundreds last night screaming the news. Some happy, some sad.
I was one of the happy voices. Now if we can only get rid of Linkshare and Pepperjam. 🙂 I’m a fan of ShareASale and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I also have programs on Commission Junction and soon to be on Avantlink. If you want the affiliate perspective on this topic, I recommend reading Tricia Meyer’s post: What To Do Now that Google Affiliate Network is Closing. I spoke with many affiliates last night and the majority of them are not panicking. Some even enjoyed the news because their Google affiliate accounts were deleted if their Adsense account was deleted due to minor miscalculations in paid search.
From the manager/merchant perspective, keep reading.
This will be a pivotal year for affiliate marketing. The merchants that leave GAN need to rethink their affiliate marketing strategy because they have the opportunity to do it right this time. My definition of right is to be selective on the affiliates allowed into the program. Merchants need to find balance with affiliates and truly investigate how they promote their brands.
At GHC, we do not work with toolbars, software, trademark poachers or out of control coupon sites. We feel these types of affiliates do not add value to the merchant and they negatively impact other affiliates promotions. Every time we take over a program we have to clean them up. At the same time, we work with niche affiliates to help them increase their conversion and we recruit new niche affiliates to backfill the decrease in sales. We have never failed in this type of relaunch and our clients are happy with the increase in new sales and the proof that removing the other affiliates did not result in overall decreases in sales. Not all managers have this attitude.
As Shawn Collins pointed out in a Facebook comment last night, many merchants in larger networks are not aware that outsourced program managers exist. If they don’t have the in-house staff to manage the programs, all they know is that networks can manage programs for them. What happens when a network manages a program? They recruit affiliates that make money for the network! There is no consideration of the merchant’s other marketing channels. There is no consideration of how these top affiliates will degrade the conversion of other affiliates. What happens when the wrong affiliate manager is hired? The affiliate channel grows so bonuses can be met but no real growth occurs overall.
Merchants looking to migrate to new networks need to do their homework. Do not let pre-conceived ideas affect your decision:
• Smaller networks have better quality affiliates, lower set up fees and lower monthly minimums.
• Larger affiliates are not always better. I would trade one toolbar affiliate with 100 sales per month for 10 niche affiliates with 10 sales per month.
• Not all coupon affiliates deserve exclusive codes.
• You also do not need to pay slotting fees for better placement on larger sites.
• Multiple networks are not always better
• Choose your manager wisely, but make sure you at least have a manager
A balanced affiliate program includes niche sites, managed couponers, social media affiliates, bloggers, reviewers, datafeeders, paid search, incentive and strong general content affiliates. If your GAN program had 3 toolbars, 3 paid search violators and 4 coupon sites in the top ten, you did not have balance. If 75% of your sales come from one affiliate, you did not have balance.
Take the next few months to come up with a sound strategy that benefits both you and the affiliates.
We are not going to hunt for new business because of GAN closing. However, we will be patiently waiting on the shoreline with our fishing poles in the ready position.