Disinformation Campaign Against Affiliates?

programmatic disinformation

In a very interesting move from the programmatic advertising industry there seems to be some sort of dis/misinformation campaign against affiliate marketing as in a recent Adexchange article. It appears to be a blatant attempt to throw mud – perhaps at a time when ad revenues are still depressed by the pandemic effect.

As Brook Schaaf of FMTC pointed out in his email this week, “The supposed proof? That growth of Buzzfeed’s commerce (affiliate) revenue slowed. Further, according to a linked story accessible via paywall in The Information, “Publishers with affiliate links saw traffic reductions of 20% to 30%.”” The AdExchange article attributes this to ‘a Google affiliate penalty’ – which Google seems to know nothing about!

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Changing Ad Revenues for Media

The programmatic and all CPM media industry felt a chill wind duting 2020/2021 as advertising budgets were cut – and sometimes slashed entirely. One thing that grew was the performance and particularly affiliate sector. That was driven by a focus from mainstream media as well as bloggers and influencers to use affiliate links to monetise their traffic and replace the lost ad revenues quickly.

From reports we have read from Awin, Partnerize and others, that trend appears to have continued. Even with the resumption of mainstream ad budgets, these publishers. As I wrote in my roundup for Publisher Discovery, we certainly met with a lot at the recent PI Live in London.

Google’s View

As Brook pointed out, it was only in July that John Mueller of Google gave his advice to publishers in the Google Search Central channel – as long as Google’s own advice is followed. He stated it quite clearly:

Affiliate links are fine. It’s fine to use these to help monetize a website” 

John Mueller, Google

…Mueller then gave advice on using rel= tags to remain compliant – with even instruction on how to deal with it in javascript and structured data.

Perhaps the Buzzfeed stats may have been from a problem with implementation though I’m not sure we’ll find out. It may well be a more simplistic answer as Jim Nichols suggested, “Buzzfeed may perhaps possibly certainly have different results than the affiliate industry, which continues its 20-year march of 10%+ CAGR”.

Decide for Yourself

Take a read of the AdExchange article for yourself – and more important read between the lines. As Brook wrote, “For my two cents, this seems to be an attempt by the programmatic advertising camp with an unfounded warning that affiliate links are harmful to put a dampener on the recent explosion of interest in affiliate monetization among publishers. More budget for affiliate might mean less budget for them.”

Chris Tradgett

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