The Rise and Fall of Affiliate Programs
Affiliate programs were once a great source of online revenue, a savvy webmaster with an eye for marketing could easily parley a site into a money making machine with a little luck and effort. However, the evolution and growth of the Internet has hampered the growth of fortune making affiliate programs. Constant search engine algorithm changes, along with the search engine's clear distaste for sites participating in affiliate programs; have made it a little more difficult to earn a healthy affiliate revenue. An influx in the use of software programs that terminate cookie tracking and privacy programs that prevent webmasters from tracking referrers, have also hindered the affiliate sales channel. While it is still possible to make money through affiliate marketing, other alternatives ought to be considered.
A Healthy Alternative or Supplement
Google's Adsense program allows approved websites to dynamically serve Google's pay-per-click Adword results. This has become a popular alternative and an effective revenue sharing program for webmasters. Google's spider parses the adserving website and serves ads that relate to the website's content. While the Google's Adsense program still has some issues, they are making efforts to improve it.
The implementation, while simple, has its drawbacks. Google dictates the format of the ads. Webmasters can select from a handful of preformatted text boxes that lack creativity. A recent improvement allows webmasters to modify the ad boxes to resemble the website's color scheme. Still, a far cry from some of the creative ads webmasters are accustom to.
The example below reflects how the color scheme can be modified to match the look of the website, but the ads physically don't fit well into the overall website design.
sample modified to match sites color scheme:
http://www.hospital-software.com (scroll to the bottom)
Google determines the content of the ads that are shown/ Sometimes the ads are poorly targeted, and of no interest to the website visitors.
sample of poorly targeted ads:
Adwords can be a great addition to a website, and when well matched to the content the revenue stream from Google is consistent and effortless.
sample of effective Adsense program:
http://www.police-supplies.com (scroll to the bottom)
http://www.small-business-software.net (scroll to the bottom)
Not that the Google Adsense program is not without its problems.as the reporting provided by Google is lacking. Google has not implemented any way to track multiple sites that serve ads; they simply show the number of ads served, the percentage of clicks received, and the revenue earned each day. Google does not disclose the amount of the revenue they share, what percentage of the revenue they earn and what someone can expect to receive for each click. Webmasters with multiple sites will have difficulty determining which websites are producing the money in the Adsense program.
With affiliate programs many webmasters implement a new browser launch with each click off the site, Adsense removes the visitor from the website and there is not currently an option to launch the visitor into another browser.
Early on Google implemented a filtering system that allowed webmasters to prevent a specific domain's ads from being served on the website. Ad blocking meant that webmasters could prevent their competitors ads from being dynamically served on their website.
Overall, adwords are great supplements to websites where affiliate programs are either not performing or when affiliate programs don't exist that target the sites content.
Give it a Try
Implementing and maintaing Google Adsense program on a content site requires very little effort and can often bring a steady stream of additional revenue for webmasters. Consider supplementing content and see what happens.
Sharon Housley manages marketing for NotePage, Inc. http://www.notepage.net a company specializing in alphanumeric paging, SMS and wireless messaging software solutions. Other sites by Sharon can be found at http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com, and http://www.small-business-software.net