“Don’t be evil” is Google’s slogan and it can be found in the Google internal code of conduct.
it’s about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can
Unfortunately for us affiliates, Google is only referring to serving their users with this motto. They seem to have no qualms about taking the bread and butter from affiliates by moving into vertical space such as finance, travel and gaming.
Typing “Credit cards” into Google shows the usual few paid ads above the organic listings, but hello – squeezed between the paid adverts and the organic listings, we now see “Google Comparison Ads”, offering Google’s own Credit Card comparison facility.
Was there a need for this? I doubt it. Is Google providing superior services to their users than was not already available? Definitely not. Google is diversifying, and some might say, being greedy.
As well as providing search, Google’s primary business model was copying your content analyzing it and displaying their advertising around it. Publishers and web-site creators are essential to Google’s business, and without publishers Google can’t exist.
Recently Google has spent a heck of a lot of money buying data companies which will allow the search giant to KO a lot of small, medium and large online affiliates and businesses by essentially jumping the queue on search results pages, offering their own services before those of these affiliate web-sites.
In July, Google acquired flight information company ITA, and recently Google is rumoured to have secretly paid up to $200M for shares of Zynga, which owns the biggest social poker site in the world. When poker inevitably gets legalised in the USA again, will it be PokerStars and FullTilt which players flock to to play poker for real money, or will it be Zynga (which boasts millions of users, has no affiliate program, and which is awash with bad players, also known as “fish”)?
No doubt many SEOers and finance site owners are pretty cut up about the seemingly anti-competitive move that Google has made by planting its own advertisements in the SERPS (can anyone else bid on this particular lucrative ad-spot?). The same will no doubt happen in the travel vertical (we have already seen the near-death of the high-street travel agent due to the internet. Does anyone actually go to bricks and mortal travel agents anymore?)
It seems affiliate marketing is doomed if Google decides to take the cream at the top of every vertical for itself. First finance, then travel, then gaming.. what’s next? Pornography and dating? A world where Google’s own pornographic site is ranked above sex.com and redtube may not be far away!
Is Google knocking the first nail into the coffin of online affiliate marketing?