Or “Why You Shouldn’t Be Naive About Google: It’s a Business People, a Very, Very Large Business.”
You may have heard the saying “He who controls the gold, makes the rules.” Or some such variation. Well for some time the new rule has been “He who controls the traffic, makes the rules.” And in the online world, that means that Google can do pretty much anything it wants.
Case in point:
After taking a look at the site and the sign up process visitors are encouraged to go through to apply for credit cards and bank accounts and mortgages, I realized this site is simply a competitor to sites like creditcards.com which is a very well known affiliate site. So essentially Google has setup its own affiliate site and has become an affiliate of several credit card companies, banks and mortgage providers.
For those of you who do not know what affiliate marketing is, it refers to anÂ independentÂ marketer who sells a company’s products and services for a commission. Affiliate marketing is a huge business and there are very few well known brand names that don’t have some kind of affiliate program. (Amazon is well known for paying Â a commission every time you sell one of their books for example.)
The affiliate marketing game has stirred much controversy over the years as many affiliate sites and affiliate programs have been deemed shady, spammy, and of low quality. Google has, in the past, banned tens of thousands of affiliates from using Google Adwords, removed their sites from its organic listings and basically made it difficult for many of them to do business.
So it’s interesting to see them jumping into the space and going head to head with the very people they seem to vilify.
But that’s what you can do when you control massive amounts of traffic. You can make your own rules.
Main take away: Don’t be naive about Google.
It’s not a good thing or a bad thing that Google has launched an affiliate site in my mind. It just is. But don’t think for a second that your favorite search engine might not come after your industry or even your own website if it sees you are making good money. Using Google Analytics, Google Webmaster tools, Google Adwords, the Google Toolbar, and Google.com among other services , Google amasses huge amounts of data it can then analyse and use any way it pleases. So be aware.
Here’s my reply to Mashables post:
Ben, this is a Google version of credtcard dot com which is an affiliate site. So while this looks like a simple “comparison” site, really Google is in fact earning commission for any account that you sign up for through this site whether it be a mortgage, credit card or other service. Just about anyone can sign up to be an affiliate of a credit card company and Google (who happens to own their own affiliate network for those of you who don’t know) is simply copying a business model that has been highly profitable for some of their own partners. So don’t be fooled people: this is a “make money when our visitors apply” business, an affiliate business. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, it’s a valuable service. I do find it ironic that Google battles with affiliates that use its search engines, banning groups of them and what not, and then they turn around and use the model themselves. But that’s what you can do when you control the traffic! It’s not about gold anymore, it’s “he who controls the traffic makes the rules.”