I’ve read a bunch of forums lately where people state that buying PPC on Google Adwords for Affiliate links is against the Google Terms of Service (TOS), and nothing could be further from the truth, at least not today. Go check out the Google Adwords Terms of Service if you don’t believe me.
It’s possible that people post that kind of stuff to scare off new affiliate marketers and keep the PPC prices down, but it’s more likely just ignorance on their part, or the fact that they’ve been banned in the past for using sneaky redirects or iframes.
Here is the text on Affiliates direct from the Adwords Help Center:
We do not allow data entry affiliates to use AdWords advertising, but all other affiliates may participate in the AdWords program. However, we monitor and don’t allow the following:
- Redirect URLs: Ads that contain URLs that automatically redirect to the parent company.
- Bridge Pages: Ads for web pages that act as an intermediary, whose sole purpose is to link or redirect traffic to the parent company.
- Framing: Ads for web pages that replicate the look and feel of a parent site. Your site should not mirror (be similar or nearly identical in appearance to) your parent company’s or any other advertiser’s site.
So yeah, Google Adwords does allow Affiliates to advertise, but it does NOT allow people to use sneaky linking practices like redirects or frames in order to beat the “one ad per display URL” policy.
For Google to try to police the Adwords system for affiliate links is simply counter productive. For one, it’s likely a lucrative part of their revenue stream, and the other that it’s not really their problem.
Google did appear to try to police their system for affiliate links in the past, where people would have to be registered with the parent company or have to mark their links with an (aff) after them. They have long since given up those counterproductive ideas.
Today Google provides a couple of different methods to keep the quality of their advertisements high while allowing companies to opt out if they don’t want their affiliates advertising for them.
- Google only allows one Ad per Display URL to appear at any one time. No matter how many people are advertising a product at TinyRide.com in Adwords, only the one with the top bid will appear. Back a few years ago, the top 10 ads for certain expensive product keywords would all be for one affiliate program, each one trying to shock the user into clicking their link.
- The Destination URL must resolve to the Display URL. That way you can put up ads directly to affiliate programs using their hoplinks (such as LinkShare, CommissionJunction, etc.) but put the Display URL to the site you are an affiliate for.
- Companies can tell Google to prohibit their registered trademarks from being used in any Adwords ad. Go try to put up an ad for an “Apple iPod” on Adwords and you’ll be blocked from doing so. Same for a number of other trademarks.
- Google Adwords has certain “bad neighborhoods” that will land you with a rock bottom Quality score for your ad if you try to link directly to them. Clickbank is just one example. I have a pretty high quality Adwords account, hitting 9/10 and even 10/10 right out of the chute for many keyword ad combinations, yet if I try to link out directly to a Clickbank hoplink, it gets whacked right down to 1/10 almost immediately.
So again, Google is NOT anti affiliate links in Adwords. They ARE anti spam link and scam links in order to provide their users with a decent online experience at their search engine.