Last week Google made a move into the lucrative and competitive UK affiliate market by re-launching Doubleclick’s ‘Performics’ as Google Affiliate Network (GAN).
This launched four years ago in the US with well-known brands on board including Netflix, Fossil, MBNA and Target. So far announced in the UK is Blue Nile, Onlineticketexpress.com, Orvis UK, Shoes.com and Skechers; not quite as impressive a list of publishers, but time will tell what take-up will be like amongst merchants. Initial integration with Google Adsense should be an attraction for many publishers and will help Google grow its publisher list.
At first glance the interface looks up there with the best affiliate networks with the clean look and easy navigation of other Google products and the added benefit of real time reporting with multiple reports and filters available. Another benefit is integration with Google Merchant Center, allowing affiliates to take your existing product feed and list it on their sites. They also offer free data feed set-up which could be invaluable for ecommerce sites that have yet to get this off the ground.
In terms of technology they do seem to be ahead of the game. The interface suggests additional areas and affiliates for consideration for future growth of the campaign and there is talk of Google + integration for affiliate communication purposes. It is also partnered with new technologies and tools including Coull (video performance network allowing you to add annotations, calls to action and tracking links to video), Ringrevenue (pay per call), and Skimlinks, (converts product links into affiliate links and contextually matches to content).
I am looking forward to testing GAN in comparison with one of the more established affiliate networks. It remains to be seen how much control you will have over campaign initiatives such as tiered commissions and bespoke incentives and affiliate communication, as the human element is an important factor when building long term affiliate relationships. Watch this space!