Affiliate advertising is still somewhat unchartered territory for many companies looking to capitalize on online awareness and visibility. Also, the field is rapidly changing, as some of the major actors on the scene, such as Amazon and Google, continuously update their offers, in a concerted attempt to improve the experience they offer their customers. Only recently, Google Shopping has been updated to a pay-for-play model only, as Google seems to be testing the market of affiliate marketing. Even more recent news have Google pegged for planning to open up their virtual market to affiliate U.S. marketers , which would be provided with the opportunity to sell their products on Google Shopping through Product Listing Ads.
Ever since Google first opened up its virtual market in alpha version, they seem to have been paying increased attention to affiliate management and affiliate retail opportunities. The alpha Google Shopping marketplace has been around for six months, and now that the beta is gearing up for release, Google plans to expand its scope for affiliates. The Internet giant will henceforth allow their affiliates to place bids on Product Listing Ads that their retail associates are offering. This test stands to benefit Google to a large extent, so long as affiliates actually choose to bid on Product Listing Ad and thereby expand the Google Shopping database with a whole new type of advertiser. Affiliates are not allowed to produce PLAs on Google other than in the Shopping beta test run, nor is the test available to affiliates outside the U.S.. The affiliates of U.S. merchants which are also based in the United States, however, will receive the chance to produce ad feeds targeted at their audiences – while bearing in mind that those audiences are also strictly U.S.-only potential buyers.
The feed submission process is not too complex, yet it must adhere to certain rules and it must also undergo some supervision. Affiliates will first have to create Google AdWords sub accounts for each client they want to promote, then advertise their clients’ products through said feeds, which must be kept as updated as possible. Links included in those feeds can only target the product landing page on the seller’s website.
The Google Shopping product management director, Eric Tholome, is keeping a balanced and moderately optimistic view on the outcome of the test, by stating he doubts Amazon affiliates are anywhere close to jumping in on the Google bandwagon. However, says Tholome, this beta test is the only way these retailers would be able to purchase such ads, since Amazon has refused to opt into the strictly pay-for-play model implemented by Google.
Sellers that don’t want to partake in the test can always opt out of the Google Shopping beta test by accessing a direct interface, which allows them to sign out, or by contacting their affiliates. Also, merchants which have several PLAs for the same product, created both by themselves, as well as by their affiliates, will always take precedence over the affiliates in Google Shopping. Products targeted by multiple PLAs will undergo a Google pre-auction, meant to avoid having merchants feel like they are competing against themselves.