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Affiliate Policy Change To Google AdWords

forwarded by Bimo L. Hasan

On Jan 12, Google released an Affiliate Policy Change to their AdWords product. This newsletter is dedicated to general strategies that will improve your affiliate campaigns in light of these changes.

Specific Google Changes

The changes to the AdWords Policy are simple and can be described as follows:

1. Google will only display one ad in total for affiliates and parent companies sharing the same URL.

2. Affiliates will no longer need to designate themselves as affiliates in their AdWords ads.

Purpose of the AdWords Policy Changes:

1. To prevent the display of redundant ads for a given keyword phrase
2. To improve the relevancy of AdWords ads
3. To protect the value of AdWords ads in the future

Google's Perspective

Shortly after the announcement, Salar Kamanger, director of product management at Google, was quoted as saying, "The new policy, which will be implemented over the coming weeks, is intended to create a cleaner interface for users, increase the diversity of merchants represented in the links, and reduce duplicate ads, all while recognizing the important benefits affiliate marketers bring to the table."

Kamanger continues, "What's important to keep in mind is that Google looks at two factors to decide which ad to show, CTR and Max CPC. By improving the quality of your ad and/or raising your Max CPC, you can increase the chances of your ad showing for any particular query."

Kamanger also stated that Google won't give preference to merchants over their affiliates, but will show the link that has the highest ad rank, a rating calculated by Google using the cost-per-click bid and the click-through rate of the ad.

Most importantly Kamanger said, "Google will continue to let advertisers use a destination URL that doesn't match the actual landing page's URL." Thus, there will not be a problem with a traditional destination URL like www.amazon.com and the affiliate link that targets the specific product.

Finally, advertisers can still link to sub-pages within a site, where appropriate. Kamangar uses the following example, "There could be an ad that points to an eBay search for an item as well as an eBay store that sells that item."

Impacts to Affiliate Marketers

I don't think this will have a major impact on affiliate marketers working without a website. Keyword selection will become increasingly important, and some markets may be impossible to crack. Although these changes will remove certain campaigns, it is likely that it will not account for a significant percentage.

Currently, most of the competitors for a keyword phrase are promoting different merchants. Even in cases when four or five affiliates promote the same affiliate program for a given keyword phrase, there are typically two times that many competitors that promote different merchants. Thus, the good competitors will still be there, but there will be less poorly targeted campaigns in overly competitive markets.

In the long run, preventing duplicate affiliate ads for the same merchant for a given search term will improve the quality of the Google AdWords experience. Greater research and testing will be required to maintain your position. This will keep customers coming back for relevance without repetition. This will increase the potential for future sales, while your cost-per-click drops, thus improving your return on investment.

In my experience with some of my campaigns that have been running for many months, I have seen other ads for the same product and affiliate program come and go. They are displayed for a few days, and since their CTR is under 0.5%, soon their ads get disabled, and then they are gone.

A few days later another person's ads will come and go. This is because there are a lot of people that are quite lazy and don't use all of the techniques of keyword matching, negative keywords, and split-testing. They just do a copycat campaign for a keyword with a similar ad and an identical merchant, but that's all.

So for my campaigns I don't think I will see a big difference. In fact over time, there might be less competitors.

Recommendations:

1. Watch your campaigns closely

a. Watch for drops in impressions
b. Watch for drops in sales
c. Watch for sudden increase in impressions without a corresponding increase in sales

2. Improve keyword selection

a. Remove non-performing keywords
b. Split test various ad copy
c. Use negative keywords to improve CTR
d. Use misspelled keyword phrases
e. Use synonyms

3. Remove the "aff" tag from the ad copy

a. Expect an increase in CTR!

4. Search for profitable, unoccupied keyword/URL combinations

5.Raise your budget if you have claimed a top position and it is still profitable

6.Explore your niches deeply and consider building mini-content sites

Seconday Recommendations:

1. Look for opportunities on other PPC engines
2. Build content pages to promote multiple products
3. Contact your affiliate managers and/or merchants to negotiate your payouts

Concluding Remarks

Numerous strategies exist that will circumvent the new policy, but beware as these loop holes will only exist temporarily. Concentrate, on the long-term viability of your AdWords campaigns. Strive to be the affiliate that commands the top rank for a merchant URL for a certain keyword phrase thus benefiting from the competitors that will no longer be receiving impressions.

If you happen to be one of these competitors that lost your place, then look for new keyword phrases within your niche that are currently unclaimed or increase your bid to regain the position.

Internet Marketing is an evolving industry and changes like this are likely to continue. If you focus on the spirit of the changes and try to create ads that are extremely relevant for the keyword you chose, then you shouldn't have problems finding profitable niches in the future.

Over the coming weeks, I will review the viability of emerging strategies and products created to improve campaign results. Some strategies will work better than others, and I will try and discover the pros and cons of each and report them objectively. Until then, improve your campaigns little by little so as to maximize your current returns.

 

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Monday, 18 Dec 2017 05:31 AM

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