At this point, it’s safe to say that the impending shutdown of Google’s Affiliate Network (GAN) is old news. However, what remains to be seen are the larger industry implications and Google’s true motivations for closing the network’s doors. In the blog post that announced the end of GAN, Google gave a short and rather vague explanation for the decision, claiming that they are shifting their focus to “other products that are driving great results for clients.”
With the reasoning behind GAN’s closing so unclear, many have began to speculate that the Internet giant was influenced by a number of factors, including its late arrival within the affiliate marketing arena, competition with Amazon, and its potential for future legal run-ins.
Despite all of this, there’s also the underlying possibility that GAN was shut down because of Google’s desire to improve user experience and streamline search results. By removing affiliate content sites and eliminating pages that are deemed unnecessary, Google would be able to send users directly to specific content pages, ultimately costing affiliates revenue, but creating a more enjoyable online experience. A detailed explanation for why GAN is being closed has yet to surface, but with 0 a thriving marketplace, it’s hard to believe that there isn’t more to this story.
While we don’t know exactly why it was shut down, the death of GAN is sure to be a game changer in the performance marketing world. Already, there’s been an influx of activity as existing affiliates are scrambling to persuade former Google clients to join their network. Most networks are offering discounted prices for their services, sparking a virtual race to the bottom of the price barrel for accounts with the likes of Netflix, Nike, Verizon, and United Airlines. On top of lowered service costs, many networks are offering specialized migration services to help smooth out the move from GAN and minimize any revenue loss.
As the door closes on GAN’s merchant services, and with reporting and trafficking set to discontinue on October 31, many major companies are seeking new affiliate networks to fulfill their online marketing needs in a rapidly growing marketplace. Among the services these advertisers are seeking are substantial scale and reach, international presence, and a strong reputation within the industry.
With the absence of GAN in the performance marketing world, what do you think we can expect to see next from Google? And, what will draw advertisers to their next affiliate networks? Do you think that Google closed GAN simply to “focus on other products?”
Murray Newlands is an online marketing industry veteran, and the founder of TheMail.