Yesterday on a teleconference Amit Mehta announced the death of affiliate marketing as we know it, on Google.
The days of “thin affiliates” brokering clicks on the Big G are over.
Amit has made millions of dollars as an affiliate marketer over the last 4 years and he’s one of the sharpest guys I know. He created “PPC Classroom” to train affiliates, very successfully, and he’s got a lot riding on this.
Nonetheless, yesterday he unflinchingly stated that “recess is over.” Google is slashing and burning affiliate accounts.
He pointed out that as of today, in some categories, the number of advertisers has gone from 50 to 5. The land has been cleared for people who create original products. A lucrative opportunity for content creators.
After the call I had a micro-panic attack: “Dang, does this make our Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords obsolete already?”
I quickly checked.
Sigh of relief. Uh, no. Not obsolete at all.
I remembered that what I’ve taught people about Affiliate Marketing and Google AdWords is NO different today than it was 7 years ago.
If all you’re doing is slinging bits, you’re living on borrowed time.
If you don’t have a Unique Selling Proposition on the Internet, you’re roadkill sooner or later. It’s just a question of when.
Amit said: “If you’re a thin affiliate with no content of your own, you can hide, but they WILL find you sooner or later.”
I think Google’s “position” regarding affiliates is essentially the same as mine. Allow me to illustrate with a few stories:
1. Not long ago a woman manufactures a physical product that is very affiliate-compatible, and came to a 4-Man Intensive. She was considering a very lucrative offer from a “Super Affiliate” Maestro to launch her product into the affiliate stratosphere.
Upside: She could probably make about $10 million in the next year or so, if it goes well, and in my opinion it probably would go well.
Downside: The tsunami of affiliate activity, including spammers, quality score problems and false claims made by overzealous affiliates, would trash her brand. The gravy train would come to an end in 6-18 months.
And she’d be on the slag heap of rich people who have to start over from scratch if they want to have a long-term business.
I advised her against it. Take the high road, I said.
As of the last 60 days, Google may have saved her from considering the fast-burn plan.
I am NOT NOT NOT saying that affiliates are *inherently* bad or that affiliate marketing itself is obsolete. Affiliate Marketing will ALWAYS exist and skilled marketers will ALWAYS make money from it.
But Jonathan Mizel put it this way: “An affiliate promotion is not a career. It’s a test!”
2. A 20-something surfer dude named Chris Carpenter put Google AdWords on the map. You’ll never read about this in the Wall Street Journal…. but it is my professional opinion that “Google Cash” in 2003 and the firestorm of affiliate activity in the lowly “bizop world” was THE tipping point for Google AdWords. Suddenly every imaginable keyword was being bought up by affiliates and Google ads started multiplying like rabbits in Australia.
Every single vendor of virtually everything began to see that somebody else was advertising on their keywords. The gold rush began in earnest. This propelled Google past Yahoo/Overture and put billions in their coffers.
This only goes to show the enormous power of affiliate marketing. It’s here to stay. But the only way you can survive as an affiliate on Google now is to have a website with a lot of great, original content, and an email list.
If you’re gonna do that…. you might as well have original products too :^>
3. When Chris Carpenter’s Google Cash came out in 2003, I thought it was both the most ingenious and the most insane thing I’d ever heard of.
“Insane” was my first reaction.
It was an inherently unstable, easy-to-drone-and-clone business model. But later it occurred to me that it’s infinitely easier to switch affiliate products than to write and re-write a sales page for your own product – so maybe it wasn’t so dumb after all. Yes, Mr. Carpenter, it IS ingenious!
But shortly after that I recorded a now-famous MP3 called “Jet Fuel for Google Cash” in which I described how to go from foot-hold to toe-hold to strangle-hold, evolving from thin affiliate to thick product supplier.
In my opinion that’s the only stable path.
4. I never flogged my own affiliate program like I could have. I naturally resist making things sound easier than they actually are. I’ve never regretted that.
In many ways, affiliates put ME on the map and I’m grateful for that. But it happened naturally, because I had the best Value Per Visitor in my space. Not because I told people the way to make millions of dollars was to flog my products.
5. The other day on a Mastermind Call, a guy says to me, “I’ve got a day job. I’ve played around with a number of affiliate offers, I’ve built a bunch of Google campaigns and I’m pretty good at this. I want to go full time this year. What should I do?”
I said, “Drive across town to some rubber gasket manufacturer. Have lunch with the marketing manager and work out a deal with them where you generate leads for them and they pay you $25 per lead. What you will have created is your own private CPA program with zero competition. And you’ll never get Google Slapped. Put together 3-4 deals like that and you can easily quit your day job.”
Just this week, a guy named Kevin posted this comment on my blog:
“For the past 2 1/2 years, I’ve been writing copy and have been a PPC/SEO specialist for a local ad agency. I’ve passionately been tearing through your materials, learning direct response copywriting/marketing, joined PPC Classroom 2.0 (great program. I learned a ton, but got my google account shut off and really don’t have the budget to start off with PPC affiliate markeitng right now. Creative ad agencies pay crap.)
“I’ve had it. I’m fed up working at a creative ad agency where there’s no accountability. I’m the only one who can reduce my job to numbers. Nobody in creative thinks about generating leads(and like you said, we get clients by having a lady cold call all day!)
“Anyways, I’m now starting off as a local internet marketing consultant. It’s really amazing once you get out there and talk to some people. EVERY BUSINESS OWNER I TALK TO IS INTERESTED IN MY SERVICES! They don’t all buy, but everyone is interested. Business’s need help now! If you have these skills, and need to get going, then you’re doing a disservice by not getting out there and helping business owners.”
If you’ve got well-honed Google AdWords chops, you’ll NEVER go hungry. Amit will tell you that, Howie Jacobson will tell you that, and I’m telling you that.
Goals are in concrete, plans are in sand.
Major change of plans for some people, as of today. But the end result is the same:
If you’re original, if you have a great USP, if you know how to buy and convert traffic, the buyers of world will love you and you can write your own ticket. Students who’ve taken my advice on this have stable, secure businesses and comfortable incomes.
What are you waiting for?
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