Google may be sticking its toes into Affiliate Programs. They apparently are calling these CPA (Cost Per Action) ads, but what that means is that publishers get paid not for clicks but for some specific action at an advertiser's site: buying something, providing information, whatever. That's an Affiliate Program, Google is just naming it something else.
Interestingly, this comes at the same time that eBay is murmuring about its own affiliate style thingy. What they intend to do is let sites like this run ads pointing at appropriate auctions. For example, we might run ads for auctions related to computer hardware, and would get paid if someone reading here clicked through and won the auction (or purchased a Buy It Now item).
Well, heck, I though that might be interesting, so I moseyed over and tried to sign up. Turns out eBay intends to use Commission Junction as their processing arm for this. That caused me to scowl a bit: CJ has a bit of a negative connotation in my mind because of earlier experiences. I had a CJ account once but let it lapse because, well, because the programs offered were too slimy and hucksterish for my taste.
Long story short, the folks at CJ, master marketers that they are, won't let me sign up because I canned the program I originally signed up for. This is what they said, honest:
Isn't that brilliant? They go on to say that I can "sign up for another account using an alternate e-mail address". Oh, I see: I'm rotten meat as publisher because YOUR program wasn't any good, but I should feel free to use another email address to get back in good graces. That's like telling the guy who mugged you last night that he can do it again if he will just wear a different mask. Except I didn't mug them; they mugged me. Yeah, I know: bad analogy.
Anyway, I bet that just the use of CJ alone will turn off more than a few publishers who might otherwise have been interested. What's up with that, E-Bay? Surely you could handle your own affiliate program - why did you bring these guys into it? Especially since Google is the 800 pound gorilla likely to turn CJ into a a quivering pile of mush. What was eBay thinking?
I'm thinking the heck with eBay, and I'm looking forward to Google's CPA ads, that's what I'm thinking.
CPM and CPC advertising has been paying less and less, no doubt because of the tremendous amount of click fraud: it just makes sense for advertisers to lower their bids to compensate. But CPA is an entirely different story. For example, I run ads advertising Kerio products. I pay Google 75 cents or less per click, but I'd pay a heck of a lot more for anything that actually turned into a sale - or even a legitimate prospect. I'd love to be able to do CPA ads with Google on that. And on the other side, I'd like to run appropriate and relevant CPA ads here, too.
Well, the program isn't public yet, so we'll have to wait for details. And who knows, maybe eBay will wake up and realize CJ is a lousy partner for their venture into advertising affiliate programs.
I'm not holding my breath.
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