After launching in Europe just over a year ago, US internet giant Google has already decided to pull the plug on its affiliate network – globally.
Google Affiliate Network (GAN), which has been running in the US since 2008, will no longer operate, in any market, as the company plans to ‘focus on other products’.
The network was initially set up to help advertisers increase online conversions on a performance basis and enable publishers to monetise traffic with affiliate ads.
Head of Google Affiliate Network, J.J. Hirschle, said that the network’s goal has always been to help advertisers and publishers improve their performance across the affiliate ecosystem, and stressed the decision to abort operations had been a tricky one.
“We’re constantly evaluating our products to ensure that we’re focused on the services that will have the biggest impact for our advertisers and publishers,” Hirschle said.
“To that end, we’ve made the difficult decision to retire Google Affiliate Network and focus on other products that are driving great results for clients.We’ll continue to support our customers as we wind down the product over the next few months”
‘Not Too Surprised’
Soon-to-be managing director Affilinet UK, and current online marketing controller of strategy and planning at BSkyB, Helen Southgate, was quick to weigh in on the news via Twitter.
“Not too surprised by the closure of GAN. The UK market would be tough to break through and I think clients want more than just tech,” Southgate said.
Partnerships director at TopCashback, James Little, said he was ‘shocked’ by the news of the closure, but unlike Southgate, said he did not see it coming.
“I was pretty shocked when I woke up this morning and saw the news of Google winding down its Affiliate Network – and I bet I’m not the only one as I can’t imagine many people saw it coming,” Little said.
“I know a fair few affiliates were sceptical about GAN when it launched in the UK but as someone that has worked with them across both the US and UK networks for over a year now, we’ve found them a pleasure to work with.”
Little said its interfaces although were not ‘the worst’, they were not as advanced as some of the bigger UK networks.
He also said from his understanding, the biggest challenge Google faced was down to the Doubleclick and Safari tracking issues that caused ‘no end of problems’ for GAN for quite some time, specifically in the US.
“From reading some blogs and forums it’s certainly been suggested that this could have been one of the reasons that it decided to shut up shop, especially with merchants and affiliates moving away from them due to the time it took to resolve,” Little said.
In a statement Hirschle was keen to state the company had a whole host of other products that could still help advertiser achieve goals with cost-per-action (CPA) tools such as Product Listing Ads and Conversion Optimiser.
Affiliate publishers can also continue to earn AdSense revenue through the AdSense network. “These areas are growing rapidly and we’re continuing to invest heavily in them,” Hirschle added.
A4u understands that tracking will cease for publishers and advertisers on Google Affiliate Network from July 31. However, account holders will be able to access data and reporting facilities until October 31. We also understand that UK staff from GAN will not lose their jobs, but will be redistributed throughout the company.
FOR more on industry reaction to the news see 'Industry Players Weigh in on Demise of Google Affiliate Network'.