Search Engines as Affiliates + Publishers
Google recently unveiled Google Advisor, which ties together the concept of Google Comparison Ads with a better looking interface.
“With Google Advisor, you enter information about what you’re looking for in a mortgage, credit card, CD, or checking and savings account.”
And unlike Google comparison ads, Google is caching these pages
When you add in BeatThatQuote, AdWords, Google affiliate network, Google ads that filter content clicks through to search ads, and AdSense there are at least 6 different ways for Google to sniff data on & monetize the consumer financial product market. And that is if you don’t count branded display ads on YouTube as another option.
If you go into the fashion market Google has AdWords, Product Ads, AdSense, the Google affiliate network, Boutiques.com & branded Youtube ads. Like.com, which Google purchased in part to build Boutiques.com, also remains a live website & yet another way for Google to taste the fashion market.
Videos / Movies
While Youtube was originally against displaying ads before videos, now that they have huge marketshare they are going to push front-loaded ads harder. Youtube offers a movie store & provides links to MP3s near music.
In books Google has Product ads, AdWords, AdSense, and their ebook marketplace. As soon as Google opened up their ebook store they began ranking their books highly in the “organic” search results
In addition to ranking those ebook pages well in the organic search results, Google also offers a vertical book filter
With flight search Google has ran tests where it looked like they were putting affiliate links directly in the “organic” search results. Their most recent flight search result test has an extended option which puts the organic results below the fold.
Google is monetizing the “organic” results on the hotel front, offering hotel price ads, coupons, and suggesting that at some point they might price ads in a cost per booking affiliate model.
In any vertical Google can offer local refinement to get a taste of more of the end user data.
On mobile phones Google can leverage click to call, their local “offers” in addition to using geotargeted AdWords ads. They can even use a person looking up directions as a relevancy signal!
According to Google insiders, mobile operating systems can be used to club “partners” over the head with compatibility requirements. And Google has taken advantage of that opportunity well enough that telecoms are complaining about net neutrality issues amongst the software platforms. As the saying goes, bundling is evil, unless it is Google bundling.
General Commerce Integration
In addition to AdWords, AdSense, Product Ads, product search, merchant reviews & their general web index, Google is trying to pull in information from the offline world. They are set to announce a mobile payment system with the ability to include coupons:
For Google, the system could help boost its digital advertising business. The planned payment system would allow Google to offer retailers more data about their customers and help the retailers target ads and discount offers to mobile-device users near their stores, these people said. Google, which hopes to sell ads and discount offers to the local merchants, isn’t expected to get a cut of the transaction fees.
In addition to receiving targeted ads or discount offers, users could manage credit-card accounts and track spending, loyalty points and other things through applications on their smartphones.
Google also invests in technologies that blend ads in content, like VigLink:
tools will allow publishers that opt-in to insert new links automatically into their content, rather them finding the links themselves.
Roup said one of the biggest misconceptions that marketers have begins with Google’s disapproval of the affiliate marketing model. Google does not have an issue with affiliate marketing, but rather, with marketers trying to buy page rank — or links that are paid but try to fool the consumer and appear as unpaid, Roup explains. “Our links are financially motivated, so they don’t convert page rank, but neither do any other affiliate links,” he said.
Google, which claims that you need to disclose any form of paid links in human & machine readable formats now invests in automated paid links, with blurred & inconsistent levels of disclosure. See for yourself.
Other Vertical Projects
Google can make minor design tweaks to their productivity suite and then launch it under any label they like, from project management to wedding planning.
Monetizing Dirty Markets
Google set aside a half-billion Dollars to settle an issue with the US Department of Justice over selling bogus online prescription drug ads. Google was repeatedly warned over the practice, but rode it until they got caught in a sting operation. Likewise, their general “AdWords advertisers selling counterfeit products” was over 50,000 strong by the time Google finally shut them down. And the whole time Google was recommending searchers search for things like “warez” & “serials,” a practice which they finally stopped based on regulatory pressure.
In dirty ad markets where illegal goods & services are pushed Google can (and does) monetize them at the general ad network level until they cause public relations issues, allowing Google to capture a large portion of the reward with minimal risk.
Google can get to know you a bit better & monetize literally anything.
While Google claims ad disclosure is important, they can “accidentally” leave it off when convenient. I just recently saw the following ad served by Google’s DoubleClick. I have no idea what it was promoting though, as I was afraid to click on it.
It’s Not Just Google
Obviously I mentioned Google because they are the most successful search company. However, Google is not the only search company monetizing their organic search results & pushing results below the fold.
Ask monetizes their “organic” results via a variety of cross-promotional results.
Yahoo! has custom “organic” ad units & intends to further monetize search with their Search Direct offering.
Bing, which has remained fairly clean, also offers promotional vertical results in their organic search results.
As search engines take big slices out of their search ecosystems, the gap between winners & losers will only grow.
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