Your recent decision to invoke a manual penalty on the download page for Google Chrome will have lasting ramifications for the whole of online marketing, whether display advertising, affiliate marketing, and other performance marketing such as CPA models, making many such business models unworkable.
Policing every piece of content produced by marketing partners (affiliates etc) on the offchance that they inadvertantly linked directly to the traffic or buzz benifitiary without using a nofollow or otherwise blocking the direct link is commercially untenable.
In the following video I have outlined what has led to this unreasonable decision being made, and elaborated a little on some of the commercial implications not just for competitors in the online advertising space, but even for Google services such as Google Publisher Network, Google Affiliate Network & Doubleclick.
Here is a specific example
This is an Amazon widget
Wow it is promoting a really cool Google phone!
Here is another iframe creative
Here is a text only link
So far I haven’t broken Google’s new interpretation of the webmaster guidelines
Oops… sorry Amazon that wasn’t an affiliate link, but an editorial link… Google will now feel that they have to remove the Amazon home page from the search engine results and Amazon won’t sell 20M Kindle Fires this year… Just 19.8M – or maybe 21M if they replace the Amazon home page with the Kindle Fire product page. (yes I realise they are very similar)
Whilst pureists might argue that this wasn’t a video CPA advert but an affiliate link, a huge amount of the sites that Google filtered this year as poor quality thin affiliates were using Amazon and other affiliate networks for monetization. The purpose quite often for the content was to drive traffic to the ads in small quantities.
At scale the revenue from 1000s of websites earning just a few dollars a month above the hosting and domain costs add up.
Another comparrison is Google’s own Adsense program and the vast numbers of poor quality sites that have arisen because of it. The good often (in search visibility) outweigh the junk MFA (made for adsense) sites, but it really is a chicken & egg situation. The webmasters target specific topics and even optimize content not just for SEO, but to pull up the highest paying and possibly even specific advertising creatives for products, maybe even video content, and they get paid for clicks on that content.
If I write a blog about Android phones and included an Adsense advert at the bottom of each post, allowed video and display ads, the situation wouldn’t be vastly different to some junk content followed by a video embed of a Google commercial I was being paid for on a CPA basis.
People in the past made complete websites dedicated to the promotion of Google pack, their Adsense program etc, and even offered incentives such as training in online marketing, or included the Adsense registration links as part of the course material… of course without disclosure as that wasn’t allowed.
Google… Please Reinstate Chrome
Here are the links referenced in the video
Matt’s post on Google+
Aaron’s's post Sponsored By Google that started this huge mess.
Danny’s post on all the thin content
Unruly Media is clearly CPA (grats on $25M funding guys)
Wikipedia on CPA (will Wikipedia be the only independent content site soon?)
Wikipedia on Online Marketing advertising models
Andrew Girdwood proving Google has used this form of CPA before
Danny with Google’s statement throwing their agency and Unruly under a bus
Google’s staement and effect (from Danny) – Statement saying this was a violation of their guidelines, possibly from someone who hasn’t read them recently.
My post on Google pack and word of mouth marketing
Google’s policy statement for their Google pack CPA campaign No mention of not giving editorial links etc
The CPA video embed (the iframe contents) – I am not going to drag an individual blogger who may have given a quite nice editorial link to Google Chrome through the coals
The Unruly Media terms of service which have now been enhanced – the nofollow statement is a new bullet point – it shouldn’t be needed as payment is not for the content of the blog post, or links, but based on CPA actions with the video.
Webmaster help forums on Affiliate links Google repeatedly avoids answering questions regarding the use of nofollow with affiliate links and other forms of display advertising.
How to report paid links and selling links that pass pagerank
Disclosure: I work for an online video & affiliate marketing startup called uQast but I am posting this on my personal blog and the words and opions expressed here are my own and my volition and not of my employer (does that remind anyone of Matt’s disclaimer?) – I have been involved in affiliate marketing for 7 years and the issues discussed here have been a topic of this blog since I started publishing it in 2005.
Small update: just added a download link for the MP4 version in HD 720p
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