Post Google Affiliate Network: Compliance Issues – By Kipling Holland

by Colleen on September 13, 2013

If your company was affected by Google Affiliate Network’s (GAN) closure, then by now you have likely made the decision to join another network or to take your program in-house. ff23

When it comes to network compliance, one of many important factors that hopefully went into your evaluation, you should consider the following to help ensure your new affiliates are complying with your policies.

If you haven’t done so already, I strongly recommend downloading your historical reports from GAN as soon as you can. GAN will support these requests until October 31, 2013, at which point they are shutting down all entity operations, per the GAN blog.

To generate any sort of meaningful progress report of your new network, it’s important to have a solid baseline understanding of the typical sales and conversion data of your former GAN affiliates.

Once you know how your affiliates historically performed, you’ll be better able to spot irregularities and potential misconduct with your new crop of publishers.

In general, but especially during this network transition period, any affiliate with accelerated activity is worth checking out. For instance, if you see an affiliate’s sales jump from 5 units to 90 units overnight, their methods are definitely worth a closer look.

In this scenario, go investigate their website and don’t hesitate to call your affiliates. I recommend getting them on the phone and asking pointed questions about how they are generating sales.

They should be able to give you specifics rather than some sort of “marketing magic” explanation. It is certainly likely that they are using legitimate means of generation, but also quite possible that they are doing something dodgy.

The conversion rates of your new affiliates are also important. Using your historical GAN data, you should be able to determine an average conversion rate. Any affiliate converting at a rate noticeably above or below this average merits extra attention.

Conversion rates above your historical average can indicate trademark bidding, which is especially costly because your affiliates are capitalizing on traffic that should be coming your way organically or through your own paid search campaigns.

To the opposite effect, below average conversion rates can indicate cookie-stuffing—lots of click-through traffic resulting in few sales or leads.

GAN had a very strict stance against software affiliates, but not every network operates the same way. It would be beneficial to familiarize yourself with your network’s policy towards software affiliates and to spend some time understanding how your new affiliates’ software actually operates (if applicable).

There is an inherent level of uncertainty when starting up with a new network. It takes time for you and your new affiliates to learn how to efficiently drive traffic using the new network’s tools.

During this time there will likely be some irregular trends in performance and sales, but if you watch for these easy-to-spot metrics, you may be able to identify affiliate misconduct during and after the transition period.

Kipling is the Director of Business Development at BrandVerity.

This article appeared in issue 23 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in August 2013. Read issue 23 of FeedFront Magazine.

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