Anyone who’s got Adsense on their website or blog is a Google affiliate. It’s a passive income stream so requires nothing more than adding a bit of code to your pages to display ads.

But there’s another way to affiliate with Google. And that’s through the Google Affiliate Network. It’s a big network, featuring thousands of advertisers. It’s none that hasn’t had a lot of exposure and it’s surprising that more affiliate marketers haven’t heard about it.

And it’s one that Google has just announced that it’s shutting down.

Yes, yet another Google service is being unceremoniously killed off. You’d think that with the money they make they’d subsidize some of their less profitable services. But no. Because the shareholders have to be paid, anything that doesn’t earn a profit has to be killed off.

Just to remind you, here’s a list of some of the services that Google have terminated in recent years:

  • Google Bookmarks List – a good idea in theory, this allowed users to share interesting bookmarks with friends, similar to StumbledUpon. Never got going and Google shut it down on December 19th, 2011.
  • Google Wave – didn’t get much of start, and was swiftly squelched by Google shortly after its inception. Terminated on April 30th, 2012.
  • Google Knol – Google’s supposed Wikipedia killer. Intended to be written entirely by experts and professionals. However, limiting the crowd available to crowdsource didn’t work and Knol’s traffic went nowhere. Shut down on April 30th, 2012.
  • Updates for Snapseed Desktop – this is the photo editing application for Macintosh and Windows. The software can still be downloaded and Google will continue to offer Snapseed app on mobiles. Updates ceased on March 30.
  • Google Cloud Connect – a plug-in that lets Windows users save Microsoft Office files on Google Drive. Will be killed off on April 30, 2013.
  • Google Building Maker – lets people design 3D building models for Google Earth and Maps. Service goes offline permanently on June 1, 2013.
  • Voice App for BlackBerry – already gone. Only missed by Blackberry users though.
  • Google Reader – the RSS feed aggregator that was launched in 2005 will be shut it down on July 1, 2013.
  • Google Affiliate Network – big affiliate network with lots of advertisers. To be shot down on July 31, 2013. Affiliates and advertisers alike affected.
  • Search API for Shopping – enables developers to create shopping apps based on Google’s Product Search data. Google will be shutting this service on September 16, 2013.
  • Apps Script – this is a JavaScript cloud scripting language that offers easy ways to automate tasks across Google products and third party services. Will be closed down on September 16, 2013.
  • CalDAV API – an experimental interface which is used by developers of calendar client applications. The service will remain available for whitelisted developers, though it will be shut down for others on September 16, 2013.

With a track record like that, does that give you any confidence in the longevity of any Google service?

Google+ was meant to be a Facebook killer yet it hasn’t gained much traction. I’d put it at 50/50 that this service will be retired in the next couple of years.

The Death of The Google Affiliate Network

I think Google’s announcement about the closing of the network came as a surprise to everyone, including the advertisers. Here’s the announcement;

Our goal with Google Affiliate Network has been to help advertisers and publishers improve their performance across the affiliate ecosystem. Cost-per-action (CPA) marketing has rapidly evolved in the last few years, and we constantly evaluate our products to ensure that we’re focused on the services that will have the biggest impact for our advertisers and publishers. To that end, we’ve made the difficult decision to retire the Google Affiliate Network and focus on other products that are driving great results for clients.

Publishers can continue to earn revenue through the AdSense network. And marketers can take advantage of other CPA-oriented Google tools like Product Listing Ads, remarketing and Conversion Optimizer to drive valuable online sales and conversions. These areas are growing rapidly and we continue to invest significantly in them.

We’ll continue to support our customers as we wind down the product over the next few months. While we will no longer be adding new product functionality, we will maintain the platform during the transition period. We plan to disable publisher relationships from advertiser programs on July 31, 2013. Publisher payments will be disbursed for network activity generated through this date. We will continue to make certain functionality available through October 31, 2013 for retrieving reports, reconciling orders, and processing payments.

A huge thanks to all our advertisers, publishers and the team that has worked tirelessly on Google Affiliate Network over the past few years. We look forward to helping you grow your business in the future.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

The Google Affiliate Network Team

I love the If you have any questions, please contact us line.

If you’ve tried to contact Google, say in the last two years, you’ll know it’s nigh on impossible as they don’t provide any email support. If Google provide telephone support, I’ve never come across it. Plus, they didn’t provide any means of contacting them in their announcement email (the “contact” link you see in the quoted email is to my own contact page and is inserted by the linking plugin I use on this blog)!

What Happens Now?

Well, there’ll be a mad scramble by the advertisers to move to other networks. So it’s going to take time for that to happen.

Affiliates will have to find out where the advertisers have moved to. In some cases, advertisers won’t go anywhere else, so some merchants will be lost. Others may go to affiliate networks that affiliates may not be able to join for various reasons.

And affiliates will have to change all their Google Affiliate Network links on all their sites. Pity Google can’t be billed for all the man hours lost to that task!

So what’s your opinion of Google these days?


Filed under: Affiliate Programs