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Word has spread like wildfire that the Google Affiliate Network is closing and I am seeing responses that range from “Hurray!” to “Oh Crap!”. What do you need to do now that the announcement has been made? First, PANIC. Just kidding. Don’t panic. It’s going to be okay. Even if you do a lot of business with them or your favorite merchant runs through them. It’s going to be fine. We have seen huge changes in affiliate marketing and this one is probably not even going to rate in the top 10 by next year.
What do YOU need to be doing now that you have read the announcement?
First, understand that this is not happening tonight. You do not need to have all of your links changed by tomorrow. However, you do need to make a plan of attack.
Second, start running some reports in Google. Find out which merchants you have made any money through them with in the last year or even two years. Sort that report in order of commissions.This will not only help you figure out just how much money is at stake for you but also an order of priority for changing links. The problems may be bigger or even smaller than you are thinking right now.
Third, start looking for those merchants on other networks. Some of them are already on Linkshare, Commission Junction, ShareASale, Impact Radius, Affiliate Window, AvantLink, etc. Those will be the first ones to move your links for.
Fourth, start reading emails. I know we tend to ignore a lot of emails that come from merchants because we get to many. But it’s imperative that you read them to figure out where the merchants are going. I would guess that pretty much all of them that are actually making money with their affiliate programs will open on another network. If they are not making money with their affiliate program, you don’t have to worry about it because it means you are not making any money with them either.
Fifth, if you do not hear anything from your key merchants in the next couple of weeks, start reaching out to them. In particular if you have merchants you send a lot of sales to you might want to actually suggest which networks you would like them to move to and tell them why.
Lastly, do anything that you can to make the link transitions on your sites easier. If you are not already using something like Pretty Link on your blog to manage links, now might be the time. Putting in a little extra time now may save you a lot of time down the road if the merchants end up changing networks again for some reason.
A lot of us have seen the writing on the wall for GAN for some time but tried to hold out hope. They had invested in some interesting new technologies but their platform just never got to the level of the other major players. I wondered if something was going on when I saw Dan Greene leave, because he always seems to be on the winning side. The tracking issues last year angered merchants and affiliates alike, and GAN didn’t seem to be in a big hurry to deal with either the tracking issues or the PR problems they caused.
What are your thoughts on GAN closing? Do you even care? I have to admit that I have had my ups and downs with them. I hate to see what might be perceived as a “loss” in affiliate marketing but over time I don’t think it truly will be a loss at all.
More Reading: Eric Ewe wrote an interesting article on What To Do Next as a Merchant. Exactly the type of advice that merchants who are on GAN need right now! In addition, Greg Hoffman just wrote a piece on Migrating Affiliate Programs from Google that should be food for thought for a lot of merchants looking at this as an opportunity to make their programs better.
Edited to Add: Some of you will get a kick out of this image that Greg Hoffman Consulting just posted on Facebook: