In my view, affiliate marketing is still underappreciated, despite its size and potential to help small businesses make money on their content. Here’s an illustration of how the tool works. Let’s say Andy’s new book, Radically Transparent (which I just got a copy of and look forward to reading it) was being sold by a merchant in Avant Link’s network. You sign up as an affiliate of that company. You write a review of the book and link to a merchant that sells the book.
If you’re signed up as an affiliate you can earn a percentage of what someone spends on that book. It takes a little technical know-how to figure out how, but essentially the merchant gives you a unique URL that identifies you as the referrer. Then if someone buys the book, you get paid. Rather than getting paid for a click you get paid part of the purchase price.
Speaking of reputations, there’s some reason for affiliate marketing’s sometimes bad rap. It has to do with rogue affiliate marketers gaming Google with ads that gave users little value. Over time new policies (like the Google Quality Score) has helped reigned things back in. Even though the industry has changed over the years Affiliate Summit still has that energy of entrepreneurialism (see the blog).
Given the sometimes tenuous relationship between Google and affiliates, and Google’s frown on paid links, some worry that the tool could hurt their Google rankings. Gary responded, “We can’t say with 100% certainty what Google will or will not see this as sneaky, but…the network redirect link shows in the browser status bar when the site visitor hovers over the link text.”