Google Kills Its Affiliate Network

In yet another round of Google Spring Cleaning surprises, GAN hits the chopping block (to the surprise of many in the affiliate marketing world including myself):

An update on Google Affiliate Network | Google Affiliate Network: “Our goal with Google Affiliate Network has been to help advertisers and publishers improve their performance across the affiliate ecosystem. Cost-per-action (CPA) marketing has rapidly evolved in the last few years, and we’ve invested significantly in CPA tools like Product Listing Ads, remarketing and Conversion Optimizer. We’re constantly evaluating our products to ensure that we’re focused on the services that will have the biggest impact for our advertisers and publishers.

To that end, we’ve made the difficult decision to retire Google Affiliate Network and focus on other products that are driving great results for clients.”

Certainly, this isn’t along the lines of a Google Reader surprise (let down) but it does provide an interesting high water mark for what was once the promise of open-web marketing.

It’s no secret that the rise of the “social web” with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ etc has led to traffic flow and even content production being offloaded from once-independent web publishers and sites (affiliates) to respective walled silos. In turn, these silos have realized that co-opting the affiliate model within their own walls to drive advertising revenue.

Therefore, my biggest concern in this is the further consolidation of web content production (especially advertising based) and what it means for small to medium publishers and website owners. Whereas publishers had a chance to compete and thrive and be seen as a valuable channel to advertisers in 2005 or so, that business model is rapidly realizing its own end-of-life.

It’s a strange new world for affiliate marketers and this is only another phase of what started in 2006.

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