Google Buys Affiliate Site; Skype Opens for Advertising

Two interesting things have happened over the past few days — not in any way interconnected, but both related to the topic of monetizing consumer interest in certain types of services.

Google Bought an Affiliate Website

Acquisitions of affiliate websites by larger corporations don’t occur every month (the last large one that I remember of happened over a year ago when Time Warner bought StyleFeeder).

Now Google has recently paid £37.7 million (over $61 million) for, “the UK’s fastest growing price comparison site” which also acts as an affiliate. The paradox here is that by acquiring them Google is “engaging in major channel conflict” here. Even if we don’t pay attention to the affiliate side of things (or should we?), there are some serious spam-related concerns involved. Read more in SEO Book’s recent post on the subject (thanks, Rehan Zaidi, for tweeting about it).

Skype Opened up for Advertising

Have you heard about this one yet? Two days ago in their blog Skype announced “the launch of advertising in Skype, which will appear in the Home tab in Skype starting this week”. The initial focus of the company’s advertising sales is on 3 geographical markets: United States, UK and Germany; and these are the countries where the ads will appear. Among the first advertisers there are such companies as Groupon, Nokia, Comcast’s Universal Pictures, and Visa. Skype seems to be doing it gently (no pop-ups, flashying blinky banners, or any other intrusions), and users may also opt out of having their demographic data shared with advertisers. More in their Advertising in Skype post here.

As someone has worked closely with Skype (I managed their affiliate marketing program a few years ago), I am actually glad they’re starting to monetize through ads. They offer a lot of great stuff for free (not compromising the quality) or very inexpensively. I have no problem with being served those ads. Do you?

6 thoughts on “Google Buys Affiliate Site; Skype Opens for Advertising”

  1. Interesting how many affiliate networks actually own affiliate sites now. Big conflict of interests I fear since they potentially have access to proprietary affiliate data that they could use against their affiliates.

    Of course, I think Google’s model is full of conflicts of interest already with AdSense and AdWords and trying to weed out organic search spam. And then they own an affiliate network and have affiliates doing PPC and the list goes on and on. I think for now though they do a pretty good job of seemingly not letting their right hand know what their left hand is doing. I hope it continues like that.

    1. Mike, thank you for your comment. I share your opinion in its entirety. So, Google, Commission Junction and PepperJam — all have affiliate sites. Does LinkShare own any? I don’t believe ShareASale or AvanLink do.

  2. The idea that Google can be anything *but* one giant conflict of interest after another is silly. They buy anything and everything they can regardless. I’m amazed that the government hasn’t intervened yet.

    Skype ads I’m okay with as long as they’re not intrusive and as long as they aren’t audio ads. If they ever – ever – start messing around with putting ads in calls, I’ll jump to a competitor in the blink of an eye.

    1. Good addition about audio ads, Daniel. YouTube’s video ads (the ones they show you right before the video that you actually want to watch) inevitably come to mind. I can’t stand those.

  3. Regarding LinkShare, let me quote from — “The OneCause community is managed by CauseLoyalty, a wholly owned subsidiary of RakutenUSA, Inc. Since being founded in 1999, OneCause has provided simple ways to turn thousands of consumers’ everyday purchases into much-needed contributions totaling over $200 million to more than 30,000 causes and schools nationwide.” Rakuten is the parent company of LinkShare.

    As you asked, Geno, I know of no affiliate site ownership by either ShareASale or AvantLink.

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