March 26, 2010

Google tests becoming a super affiliate in finance

by Brian Turner

Google this month made a foray as a super affiliate in the financial services market, with users searching for some finance keywords finding Google listing one of its own pages first in the sponsored results.

Clicking through takes the user through to a comparison page, built with affiliate links.

For example, for an earlier search of “credit card balance transfer offers” you can see how Google positioned itself first in this screenshot:

google-affiliate-1

Clicking on the sponsored result takes the user through to a page comparing credit cards, with the listings appearing as affiliate links:

google-affiliate-2

The results are not still showing at present, but the page can be found here.

Suggestions that Google may abuse its position on the internet to become a “super affiliate” have long haunted webmasters and affiliate companies.

This is not least because in some countries – not least in the UK – Google’s market share of search engines is in the region of 80%-90%, when including syndicated results on other major search portals.

This, however, does not include the use of Adsense for Search, another method of syndication, used across myriad of small websites in lieu of using their own search results.

This means that any serious attempt by Google to leverage its visibility for direct affiliate marketing would have a significant effect across the internet, and immediately threaten the viability of existing affiliate companies, as well as the large numbers of webmasters and small businesses that target affiliate income streams.

Providing comparisons for financial products would also be a direct attack on price comparison sites such as MoneySupermarket.com and GoCompare.com.

It’s certainly not the first time Google have tested these waters, but since the acquisition of DoubleClick by the company, there have been no clear signs that Google was creating a serious platform for the affiliate technology they inherited.

It remains to be seen now whether Google uses this experiment to push further into affiliate marketing, but if it does, don’t be surprised if it raises cries of alarm not simpy from publishers, but also from advertisers themselves, who find themselves forced to deal exclusively with Google for all forms of internet advertising.

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Story link: Google tests becoming a super affiliate in finance

 

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