Google Affiliate Network Shut Down – Now What?

Google Affiliate Network Shut Down GAN's GoneThere has been a feeding frenzy since Google announced the closure of their affiliate network last week. Merchants, affiliates, networks and agencies have been in a mass turnover period while they figure out what to do and how to help each other.

We have been working with several companies with their changeovers in the last few days. Many merchants are going to Linkshare and Commission Junction, while others move to more niche solutions.

We’ve spoken with several merchants who are grateful to have alternative options outside of the obvious few, because in a time of change, comes a time for opportunity and advertisers need to be careful they are making the right decisions long term.

The opportunity for further program optimization and growth, along with potential savings for higher profits, and new profitable niche partner relationships is fantastic right now. But GAN merchants need to be clear on what they are trying to accomplish from their program before they make a big move.

Our team at All Inclusive Marketing is about identifying the smartest opportunities for change in order to improve your affiliate program before, during and after this transition period to focus on savings and higher profitable growth potential. 

If you are a merchant looking for support, we’re here to help transition you in the smartest way possible, not just the most obvious. We have partnerships with all the major networks, but also a lot of the smaller niche groups that could actually mean higher savings and more strategic partner relationships with you resulting in more profits and growth potential.

So what are your next steps:

1. If you have found an alternative and you got a deal, that’s awesome, well done! But it’s not over with that one change. Look at what new opportunities there are for improvement and growth while people are open to change, and while you are flexible enough to make different decisions that could massively benefit your organization’s bottom line.

2. If you have an agency that you already work with and are looking for new geographic target groups, that’s ok, we can still help! We have several clients who already work with other agencies and work with us to penetrate into international market segments such as Canada, the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia other agencies either don’t have time or expertise to move into. We have partnerships with many international affiliate networks to offer additional savings and new customer segment reach.

3. Let’s say your comfortable with CJ or Linkshare and you have internal account management with them – great! They know their network better than anyone else. However what about the opportunities outside of their network they don’t know about or can’t get into? What about working with their (or your) internal team to focus on new affiliate recruitment opportunities, or partnerships that take the mundane tasks off your hands so you can focus on building relationships with your affiliates and negotiating better placements on sites resulting in increased sales? These too are areas we can help.

4. What if you’re “set” in all these areas? Awesome! But how about using tools to become more efficient and effective now? What about working with cross channel strategy to not only increase affiliate sales but every marketing dollar you spend in other channels? There is opportunity to improve program performance and cross channel sales – and we have the tools, systems and team in place to help you elevate your program, whether you’re working with a network, agency or in house manager already.

This is a phenomenal opportunity to make some positive change that could forever push your affiliate program forward in a better direction. If you’d like to speak about your affiliate marketing strategy, selection on new network, affiliate recruitment efforts, tools to help you become more efficient or how to get more from your online marketing efforts as a whole, contact us and we’d be happy to offer a free consultation on what to do before, during and after your move from Google Affiliate Network.

Is There a Market for Affiliate Marketing in China?

I had three very interesting phone calls last week from completely different people asking me about affiliate marketing in China. One, a US based investor asking my opinion about the potential of affiliate marketing in China, another, a Chinese branding company looking to do business with us and the last a New York based Chinese Affiliate Network focused on US product sales in China.

I asked a few questions to get a better understanding of the marketplace and their understanding of it.

 

Chinese Affiliate Network: ChinadGateway

I was really intrigued when these guys called me because they were looking for US based companies wanting to advertise to a Chinese market on a performance base. However when I asked how affiliate marketing worked in China, they said Chinese affiliate marketers generally worked on a CPM basis only. They do not work on a rev share or CPA model. When I asked why, they said Chinese internet marketers wouldn’t take the risk because Chinese buyers don’t generally look at unknown brands or products. Chinese online buyers want only recognized brands of products that are not manufactured in China. I saw two big problems with their model in targeting US advertisers.

  • US based advertisers would likely not take the risk of doing a CPM model if site traffic is unlikely to buy. Why would an advertiser buy on impressions that are not going to convert?
  • So many products in the US are made in China, so unless you have a recognized brand and it’s made somewhere else, like Italy, Canada or on home turf, you’re also not likely to convert. This just leads to very expensive ad buyers that will likely produce a negative return.

A conversation with a friend from a Chinese branding company added another issue to the mix:

  • Everything in the major metropolitan cities where people CAN afford to buy stuff is within arm’s reach. There is nothing you can’t get immediately going downstairs into the shops in your office building or walking across the street. If it’s a need, they already have it. If it’s a want, the only want they would have from US based retailers is something they can’t already get in person.

 

US Based Investor

Strange that this man called me after I had spoken to two Chinese owned companies looking to leverage the US Marketplace and asked what the potential was in the Chinese marketplace for affiliate marketing. After filling him in on my calls and my thoughts on the potential road blocks listed above, he too agreed that unless he could create a marketplace where Chinese buyers could easily purchase high quality products by international brands made in first world countries, the likelihood of success with traditional affiliate marketing was limited.

BUT, there lies an interesting opportunity here as well. If a niche affiliate network focused on only top level brands made in “first world” countries, would the world jump at the chance to market them? I think so. The challenge would be accommodating different performance models that are acceptable within the countries marketing the products while making them mutually beneficial and profitable to the sellers.

Maybe it’s not for those countries to change their models but for us to find ways to accommodate how they do business while making it profitable for us as well. Mutual win-win.

At the moment there is no “affiliate network” that does such a thing that I’m aware of. However ExactView (founders of Buy.at) has a model that is closest to this and might benefit from keeping these cultural differences and new market potentials on close watch. Who knows, maybe it’s time for a new Global Performance Network that will focus solely on filling this void.

Affiliate Window (Buy.at) Stepping Up Their Game

affiliate window performance marketing network reviewedAccording to Affiliate Window, formerly known as Buy.at, they are the first affiliate network to proactively combat the risks brought about by the recession and expose advertisers who haven’t cleared their existing publisher invoices on time. In one of the boldest moves by a network in recent times, Affiliate Window is putting publishers first by allowing them to manage their cash flow by indicating which retailers pay promptly and reliably. The way it works is relatively straight forward:

 

  • Any advertiser operating on a green status is completely safe to promote and will pay very very quickly.
  • Any advertiser operating on an amber exposure level 1 status is a low risk advertiser who pays Affiliate Window via Direct Debit but has exceeded their credit insurance limits.
  • Any advertiser operating on an amber exposure level 2 status is a medium risk advertiser who has exceeded their credit insurance limit.
  • Any advertiser operating on an amber exposure level 3 status is a medium risk advertiser, within their credit insurance limit but with overdue invoices.
  • Any advertiser operating on an amber exposure level 4 status is a high risk advertiser, they have exceeded their credit insurance limit and have overdue invoices.
  • Any advertiser operating on a red status should be avoided.

 

This is a great new feature exclusive to Affiliate Window that will help affiliates know which programs to join and which to be weary of. So far it has been positively embraced by the affiliate community, particularly those that have suffered from advertisers going into administration resulting in non-payment.

What should you take away from this? If you’re a merchant, pay on time! If you’re an affiliate, you now have tools to make sure you’ll get paid properly. I like the addition and look forward to seeing more ways we can help affiliates while increasing the standards of merchant behaviour.

 

About Affiliate Window:

Affiliate Window is an award-winning performance marketing network. Over a hundred advertisers with more being added every day. Our offering ranges from big name brands such as British Ariways, Ticketmaster and Ticketsnow, to niche retailers like Zone Alarms looking to grow their online presence. Affiliate Window is committed to developing market-leading technology to assist the performance of both advertisers and publishers, such as the development and initial implementation of the Darwin Marketplace.

What is ExactView Affiliate Management Tracking Technology?

Last month I had a very interesting phone call from one of the original founders of Buy.at Affiliate Network, Malcolm Cowley. An extremely intelligent and interesting man, Malcolm explained in many details the direction he believed to be the future of in house affiliate marketing optimization.

Now leading the efforts at Performance Horizon Group for ExactView, Malcolm explained many things about why ExactView would make it’s mark in the future of affiliate marketing.

Here’s a quick Q&A summary from our session:

Q: Tell us about Performance Horizon Group and why a merchant would be interested in you.

A: PHG offers a proprietary SaaS platform called ExactView for brands and publishers to manage their key revenue, drive relationships in-house, and make critical decisions through data analysis, thereby limiting risk across their web, social and mobile strategies. Our solutions are designed for several marketing channels including: Affiliate, Lead Generation, Mobile, and Social.

We have several high-level benefits brands and publishers receive including:

  1. Efficiency and Ease-of-Use: We make measuring and managing partners and affiliates easy, ultimately ensuring more sales leads. The purpose is to bring our customers fully customizable, easy-to-use tracking and management solutions.
  2. New Revenue Opportunities: Our ExactView platform brings customer’s immediate costs savings by providing better management solutions for their top partners combined with lower overhead, creating greater ROI for their brand marketing campaigns.
  3. Limit Risk: We help brands and publishers limit risk by giving them access to data, which thereby allows for better decision making in a shorter amount of time.
  4. Intelligence: ExactView allows brands and publishers to gain new insights into how their content is being consumed; brand is being portrayed; areas that can improve, etc., all while learning how to find new opportunities to maximize their brand marketing campaigns.

Q: After your sale of Buy.At, how did you come to launch PHG?

A: After we sold Buy.at, we knew we had only scratched the surface of  potential ways to bring innovation to the performance marketing industry. We barely even took a vacation before we started planning Performance Horizon Group. We knew if we could create a software platform that enhanced both the way brands and publishers work with each other, demand for the software would naturally grow. It took a little while to get the platform right, but once we were confident we had a winning solution, everything proceeded seamlessly from there.

Q: What would you say are the advantages of working with PHG?

A: We see many advantages to working with us. A few top advantages include: First, we offer fully customized solutions to fit our client’s needs. Second, we offer customers access to our proprietary API’s, which allows them to build the tools they need to enhance their tracking systems. Third, we’re the only company of our kind to offer full financial support to customers to maximize their performance marketing campaigns. This is a major differentiator for us. Finally, our platform allows for reduced costs and increased sales by simply allowing customers to receive a full and complete understanding of their performance marketing activity.

Q: What differentiates ExactView from others networks and technologies in the industry?

A: We see several differentiators and reasons for brands to leverage our ExactView technology platform. For instance:

  1. Better account management – Our customers are able to build better long-term sustainable relationships with their top partners.
  2. Better Tracking Solutions – We offer reliable data in real-time across all of our customer’s vertical platforms. Brands don’t want to deal with individual partners at an impression level, so we allow the brands to bring the tracking in-house.
  3. Publisher Tools – Because our solutions are customizable. In other words, our customers offer their partners easy-to-use, constantly updated publishing tools, which allows for better interaction and real-time reporting.
  4. Significant Cost Savings – By limiting the ‘over-ride’ process typical of brand/network relationships, brands will immediately see costs savings.

Q: What are PHGs competitive advantages?

We see several advantages to the ExactView platform. First, ExactView’s technology and architecture is brand new and allows for faster – as it happens- data with a flexible interface turning data into actionable information. Also, because ExactView is built on proprietary APIs it allows for better customization, ease of integration with 3rd parties and advanced data collection opportunities.  We also believe our product features such as social integration and Finance-as-as-Service set us apart from others in the industry. Additionally, because we offer white label solutions, our customers can experience full customization to build and use the technology however they see fit.

______

It was an interesting interview and one that requires a second blog post, because the conversion that went back and forth between Malcolm and I about the potential of this tracking technology was intriguing.  We talked about the automation of languages translations, the integration of unlimited APIs, the advanced tracking solutions they provide that I’ve never HEARD of anywhere else. The list when on and on and I likely could have spoken to him all day.

I think if you’re a merchant who is very forward thinking in your mobile, social and international commerce opportunities and looking for something that can more accurately track various channels in real time, ExactView is certainly worth checking out.

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