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Amazon Increases Payout for Music Downloads is offering affiliates a higher payout on Amazon MP3 music downloads to compete with Apple’s iTunes. At Amazon they call affiliates associates and typically their payouts aren’t very high – around 6%. But to boost adoption of their music downloads they are offering 20% commissions until January 2008.

Compare that to Apple that offers 5% commissions on iTunes. They also priced the downloads slightly lower – some are 98 cents at Amazon while iTunes are at 99 cents. Beginning on January 1st, commissions will drop to 10%, still double that of iTunes.

Amazon has one of the earliest and largest affiliate programs on the internet. Now some of those affiliates have an incentive to promote music along with Amazon’s other offerings.

Affiliate Marketing – High Growth in the UK

By Janet Meiners.

According to a report by E-consultancy retailers in the UK are seeing positive results from affiliate marketing. The research group surveyed 239 merchants this year and most of them have both online an offline presence.

A full 95% of brands said that affiliate marketing is ‘very cost-effective’ or ‘quite cost effective.’ The next most effective ways to acquire a new customer is paid search and then email marketing. On average the retailers spend 18% of their online marketing budget on affiliate marketing.

Retailers like affiliate marketing (also called CPA or cost-per-acquisition) because they only pay an affiliate when a sale is made.

Kevin Cornils, CEO of explains, ‘Affiliate marketing has proven itself as the most cost effective online channel to drive incremental volume. It works for marketers because they only pay for activity that generates genuine sales?” He even went so far as to say that affiliate marketing “is a guaranteed positive ROI if managed correctly.” You can’t get much more glowing than that.

Google Gets Tough on Quality

By Janet Meiners

Advertisers who want to keep their costs down must keep the quality of their landing pages up. Nothing new. But Google recently reiterated their policies on the Inside AdWords blog.

What does Google reward? In both natural and paid search the answer is quality – from a customer point of view. Google rewards landing pages that are easy to navigate and transparent. I will add trust and credibility. Create landing pages and sites that provide a good experience (quality content) for searchers and customers and Google will be happy.

Google was clear about what is not considered quality. They will:

  • get rid of squeeze pages designed to collect a name and email
  • penalize arbitrage sites that are simply pages of ads
  • eliminate sites that knowingly or unknowingly install software (malware)

Google specifically mentioned they discourage “get rich quick” sites, comparison shopping sites, and travel aggregators. This is where affiliates marketers gasp.

Widgets are for Affiliate Marketing!

By Ryan Douglas

ShareASale, a growing affiliate management company, released a widget creation tool early last month for merchants. With the ability for merchants to put together a customized widget, a large burden is relieved from the affiliates themselves. No longer does an affiliate have to constantly update their web site to reflect a merchant’s special offers which may include discount promotions, coupons and limited time offers. The unique ability of the merchant providing the content in the widget on an ongoing basis lets the retailer (merchant) have greater control over the desired outcome of their promotion. The merchant picks and chooses the items and offers being pushed to their affiliates. There exists a great opportunity for the affiliate manager to interact and customize offers, display colors and commission rates for specific affiliates.

Google Launches Pay-Per-Action; a Threat to Affiliate Networks?

If you’re reading this post, then you can expect a flurry of news covering Google’s beta launch of its Pay-Per-Action (PPA) product for AdWords. Yep, after years of hinting, Google is finally ready to let us test their platform on a CPA (cost per action) model. (If this sounds familiar, reports surfaced back in June, that Google was offering a limited test of CPA)

The beta test is restricted to AdSense for content in the U.S., will run separate from the regular auction model, and you may not even get a chance to test it for a few weeks, while they roll it out. That being said, this is a significant expansion of the CPC (cost per click) model, with advertisers being given the option of paying when a customer buys a product, signs up for a newsletter, or completes any other actionable task on the advertiser’s web site.

On the publishing side, AdSense publishers will be able to opt-in to display PPA ads from Google and even whether they wish to display a single ad, a cluster of ads or match to a specific keyword that is relevant to their page content. Publishers also get to preview the ads, including company name, logo etc, before the ads go live.

As the broker between the advertiser and the publisher, Google will take its cut of any incentive offered. For example, if the advertiser offers $2 per sign-up, the publisher may see only $1.50 offered for the same sign-up. Google will pass on to publishers the net-incentive only.

Publishers also get a new “text link ad” format (I wonder what Patrick Gavin will have to say about that), which allows them to display JavaScript ads that appear as a single text link. Publishers will be able to search for text link ads that match their chosen text string. Perfect for bloggers looking to monetize their site, but would prefer to add embedded text links, rather than whole blocks of ads.

Now, here’s where my post title comes in to play.

A platform that allows advertisers to offer a reward based upon a sale or sign-up?

A platform that allows publishers to select text, flash or images when displaying advertisers incentives?

What does that sound like to you?

To me, it sounds like a clear threat to the likes of Commission Junction or LinkShare – or any other affiliate marketing network. Google, for all intents and purposes, has just entered the affiliate marketing arena, with the battle cry that they can do affiliate marketing better than the affiliate networks can.

Now, I feel obliged to inform you that when I posed this suggestion to Rob Kniaz, product manager for Google’s advertising products, he was very quick to deny any intention to compete in the affiliate network space. “We think this is different from the traditional affiliate marketing industry”, said Kniaz. “[It’s an] extension of the current AdWords product”. Oh really? Kind of like how Google doesn’t see itself competing with Microsoft’s office suite.

When I pushed Kniaz to explain why Google is so keen to distance itself from any associations with affiliate networks, his response was that the new PPA platform offered “more automation, more options, more control” than affiliate networks.

Sounds like fighting words to me!

How Far Are You Willing To Go For Linkbait?

It looks like the Copeac Affiliate Network and WickedFire Forums decided to play shirtbait at the recent Affiliate Summit. I didn’t attend but Shoemoney did and he posted a picture of the Copeace shirt. I won’t even try to put in words what the shirt says as I don’t want Andy’s site ranking for such things, but let’s just say it goes to the edge if not over.

This is an obvious attempt to create the type of buzz that I have the feeling is about to happen. I am a fan of both WickedFire and Copeac. They are both run by some great people who are very smart.

Law Requires Disclosure of Affiliate Marketing Links, Word-of-mouth and Paid Reviews

Copyblogger has been digging around a new statement made by the Federal Trade Commission and reported by the Washington Post.

The bottom line, the FTC is pushing to make companies disclose any compensation received when promoting a product or company. While this is not a new law, the FTC wants marketers to know how it intends to interpret existing legislation.

…companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships…Word-of-mouth marketing can take any form of peer-to-peer communication, such as a post on a Web blog, a page for a movie character, or the comments of a stranger on a bus.