Is Google Out to Put an End to Affiliate Marketing?

Many merchants are heavily promoting Google Checkout and coupons that go with it, and even encouraging their affiliates to promote this offer.

With some merchants at Commission Junction this is no issue, affiliate tracking still works and affiliates still get credit for the sale. Evidently though according to some folks at ABestWeb, not all merchants promoting Google Checkout are still tracking affiliate sales.

Even a CJ employee recommends not pushing Google Checkout. Yet even if affiliates don’t, the Google Checkout coupons are promoted heavily on the merchant’s site.
I don’t think it is fair to ask affiliates to promote something they aren’t going to get paid for, nor do I think it is fair for this to be promoted on affiliates landing pages.

Is Google out to put an end to Affiliate Marketing? Do they want it all for themselves? There seems to be a scary trend, Google is now basically competing with regular affiliates and since Google is Google, what chance to regular affiliates have?

About Connie Berg

Connie Berg is the Founder of FlamingoWorld.com and iShopDaily.com. Founded in 1998, FlamingoWorld.com offers discounts and coupons from online retailers, while iShopDaily.com focuses on price comparison and product search. ForMeToCoupon.com is a new venture which offers an automated, customized affiliate coupon feed which consolidates coupons and deals across all major affiliate networks in a standard format. You can find Connie on Twitter @connieberg.

11 Responses to Is Google Out to Put an End to Affiliate Marketing?

  1. Connie Berg says:

    It is not so much fairness as the fact that we have agreements with merchants. If someone clicks through our link and purchases we are supposed to get paid. There is nothing in our agreement that excludes Google Checkout or says we won't get paid if people don't go through normal checkout.
    Merchants expect affiliates to follow the terms and conditions, affiliates should expect to get the same from merchants.

    Merchants also shouldn't ask affiliates to promote something we won't get credit. Some disclosure should be made. Give us the choice to promote it or not, not lead us to believe that because our merchant told us to promote something that we will get paid.

  2. Jim Kukral says:

    Connie may not blog much anymore, but she still knows how to hit the magic button. Tagged to subscribe to comments.

    I’ll ask you this question Connie.

    What does fairness have to do with big business and billions of dollars?

  3. Nope. Google wants to do what Jeff Pullen is out to do and what companies like J.L. Halsey are up to.

    http://www.btobonline.com/article.cms?articleId=2

  4. Linda Buquet says:

    Merry Christmas Affiliates, from Google

    Aside from the issue of special merchant coupons for Checkout – Checkout is a still a major affiliate leak all around as I see it. I don't necessarily trust all merchants to upload separate transactions that aren't automatically tracked. Especially this time of year when it's so busy. I know merchants who PROMISE to pay 800# commission and don't, simply because they are short staffed and the order entry people just never get around to entering the manual transactions.

    (They were not purposely trying to screw affiliates – it simply was not enough of a priority for the already buried staff to do the extra work. If I screamed loud enough and long enough and threatened to OUT them some phone transactions would get entered for awhile, then fade away again. I stopped managing the program – largely for this reason.)

    This is a big reason why I don't trust anything that has to be done manually after the fact. I'm sure many merchants are automated to the point that they don't even need to have staff involvement, but we all know lots of smaller merchants, that aren't very tech savvy and that are short staffed and busy. Who's to guarantee all these Checkout orders get processed and uploaded correctly?

    For there to be NO leaks the process MUST be automated IMHO. Checkout does let merchants use "web beacons", could this be a possible solution? I can only find info that's written for the consumer to let them know their transaction can be tracked by the merchant. (It also tells consumers to just DELETE their cookies if they don't want the referral source to be tracked.) 🙁

    Google Checkout: Buyer Help Center –
    What does it mean if a seller tracks advertising campaign performance?

    "What does it mean if a seller tracks advertising campaign performance?

    "Google Checkout allows stores to track conversions from advertising by adding a web beacon to the Google Checkout order confirmation page. A web beacon is an electronic image (1×1 .gif) within a web page that helps a seller analyze customer traffic, and track transactions."

    http://checkout.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?…

    OR if the Google web beacon can't be used possibly Google would allow merchants to place a CJ tracking pixel instead???

  5. Adam Viener says:

    If this is true that Google Checkout orders are not tracked by the affilaite networks, then Google is adding insult to injury to some search affilaites, I have seen some of my ads for merchants that I promote directly in search start to automatically show up with the Google Checkout symbol on my ads!!!

    Did I authorize it, no. If it creates better click through rates, then great, if I don't get paid when they checkout, then yuck!!!!

  6. artie meehan says:

    Is there really any fairness in any business other than survival of the fittest??? Artie

  7. I have to believe that Google is not adversarial to affiliates but then again both LinkShare and Commission Junction have made decisions that grossly impacted the affiliate body. It would be a pity of Google further burned a whole in the affiliate channel. Its bad enough that affiliates fight parasites, chargebacks, late payments, lousy accounting. It begs the question, would the savvy affiliate drop merchants that used Google Checkout??

  8. Adam Viener says:

    "Would the savvy affiliate drop merchants that used Google Checkout"

    Well I can tell you from a paid search perspective, we might have to. If we are sending traffic and more and more of that traffic goes through Google checkout and we don't get paid for that traffic, then our ROI's will fall, our max bid prices will fall, and eventually the merchant just won't be profitable to promote anymore.

    My gut feeling tells me it's more of a merchant configuration issue with Google checkout than an affiliate network issue, I am sure Google provides a way to pass pixel tracking on the checkout landing pages. My contact at Performics indicated that this is in fact the case.

    I guess I am a little more concerned with Google arbitrarily putting the Google checkout logos on our ads for merchants who support Google checkout. If they are using our dollars to promote a checkout path that we don't get compensated for, that is grossly inappropriate.

    Adam

  9. Kurt Lohse says:

    Adam, if what you are reporting is true, for those CJ merchants who are not willing or unable to credit affiliate sales made through Google checkout, then I'd say it is more than grossly inappropriate on Google's part – it sounds illegal.

    I am not sure why any affiliate (savvy or not) would choose to actively promote a merchant on a pay per sale basis if that merchant actively diverts a significant portion of the traffic you send to non-payable channels.

  10. Linda Buquet says:

    UPDATE: Ahhhhh the power of the blogosphere! Matt Cutts from Google just let me know over at ThreadWatch that he jumped in to help as soon as he heard. Matt wrote:

    "Linda, as soon as I heard people saying that there were tracking issues, I escalated it to the Google Checkout folks. I know they're looking to see if there's anything they can do pretty quickly to help on this issue."

    I of course, asked him if the cute cartoon of him pushing Checkout that I used in my 2nd blog, helped get his attention! LOL Thanks Matt you are awesome!

    Here's the ThreadWatch thread if anyone wants to catch up on the conversation over there.

    Google Undermining Paypal in Their War on Affiliates
    http://www.threadwatch.org/node/10494

  11. Hello … I am a product manager at Google and we released support for third party conversion tracking yesterday. I'd love to hear any feedback once you've had a chance to tinker with it.

    http://code.google.com/apis/checkout/developer/ch