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Tony Nelan, Head of Google Affiliate Network - Q&A

Tony Nelan, Head of Google Affiliate Network - Q&A


Q: It has been nearly four years since the launch of GAN in the US. Why did you feel the time was right to launch 'across the pond' into the UK market?

"While we re-branded as Google Affiliate Network four years ago as part of Google’s DoubleClick acquisition, we’ve actually been in the affiliate business for twelve years. We have a long history of understanding and managing affiliate programmes for our advertiser and publisher customers. In the past two years, Google Affiliate Network grew rapidly in the the US. We realised the time was right to build on this momentum and expand outside of the United States. We’re very excited to be here and the reception in the UK has been very warm."

Q:What are your initial impressions of the UK Affiliate Market?

"I’ve been struck by the level of passion and commitment that people in the UK affiliate industry have to this channel. I’ve learned a great deal from so many subject matter experts, many of whom have been working in the industry for 5-10 years.

"I’ve also seen an abundance of thought leadership from the publisher side of the business, where there’s a willingness to tackle big issues like channel attribution and assessing the incrementality of the affiliate sales channel as a whole. What seems to translate across the Atlantic is the creativity and innovation that seem to be part of the affiliate publishers’ DNA. I see companies like Respond, Savoo and Hot Drops working really hard to differentiate and expand the reach of performance marketing."

Q: Similar to the US, there are a large number of Affiliate Networks operating across the UK. How do you rate the competition here?

"While attending various local affiliate industry events in the past several months, I had the pleasure of meeting a number of people from other affiliate networks. Roundly a group of passionate, dedicated people who really know this business. I think we’re keeping good company as part of the UK affiliate industry."

Q: How does this compare to the US do you think?

"The biggest difference I’ve seen is that agencies and white-labelled solutions don’t have the same role in the US as they do here. I think this is what makes the UK a complex and competitive marketplace: the abundance of choice for a prospective advertiser across networks, agencies and in-house programmes."

Q: What would you say are the key features for using GAN as an affiliate?

"We bring one of the most reliable payment systems used in online marketing to the UK. We’ve integrated with AdSense as a payment platform, enabling us to provide some of the fastest, most reliable and transparent payment processes in the industry. On the surface, payment may not be the most exciting topic, but it’s a crucial part of the fundamentals of affiliate marketing and something we pride ourselves on.

"Our platform is built in the Google software ecosystem, creating a very fast, reliable platform. More importantly, having our platform in this development environment allows us to interact with other Google tools such as Merchant Centre to source product feeds, AdSense for payments, Analytics for reporting and so on.

"Additionally, publishers will find that we are the exclusive provider of a number of new-to-market affiliate programmes. These new programmes represent an incremental opportunity for publishers in the UK. Google is committed to educating advertisers who don’t currently have affiliate programmes and introduce them to this channel. This in turn helps grow the overall market in the UK."

Q: Across the 'Google Spectrum' of technologies including G+, Adsense etc how, if at all, will GAN utilise these?

"We’ve touched on some of these earlier. For example, we already use Merchant Centre to source product feeds and AdSense as our payment platform. Integration into the Google software ecosystem, also known as the Google “stack,” has allowed us to create a globalised platform, translated into a multitude of languages and able to pay publishers in over 80 countries and over 40 local currencies.

"Our already robust and comprehensive reporting will continue to evolve, providing even more ways for our users to make informed business decisions. It's also important that we explore new tools and ad formats that help us reach a broader publisher audience.

"Farther afield, we think Google+ can play a significant role in creating hyper-efficient communication tools for our advertisers and publishers. It’s often said that affiliate marketing is a relationship business, and Google+ Hangouts and Circles allow people to engage and develop deep relationships that will help build their business."

Q: Following your UK launch, are there any plans to launch across any other European territories this year?

"We’re planning to expand to other regions, but in the near term, we’re focused on the UK. While Google has a solid business and product infrastructure in place throughout Europe, we need to start with the important step of understanding the unique needs of the local markets before expanding further."

Q: There's currently a high level of discussion surrounding attribution, mobile and utilising data within the industry. What can you say about GAN's plans to combat these?

"There are many interesting conversations taking place about attribution, mobile and utilising data. We think it’s important to participate in these discussion which are not unique to affiliate marketing.

"Google is thinking about attribution very broadly. In 2011, Google rolled out multi-channel funnels where advertisers using Google Analytics could get a view of the different paths that your customers take across marketing channels and get a better sense of how they're exposed to ad types prior to conversion at an aggregate level.

"Affiliate, can of course, be part of this report output, and with an advertiser’s permission, we can work with advertisers and our Google colleagues in search and display to understand this data and the implications it has on media spend. I don’t know yet if there is one answer on how to attribute and model payment to various channels. I think that answer will morph based on advertiser objectives and the short and long-term needs of their respective businesses."

Find out more about Google Affiliate Network

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Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson

Content Director for PerformanceIN. Based in Bristol & London.

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