Affiliate Marketing with Google Ads: Is it Possible?

In order to be successful with affiliate marketing, you need to drive traffic to your website. Google Ads can deliver quicker results compared to SEO, which may take several months to show progress. Nonetheless, due to Google’s rigorous policies, the fundamental query is whether it is achievable to conduct affiliate marketing with Google Ads.

Affiliate marketing with google ads banner graphic

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a way of earning money by promoting a company’s products. The company pays a commission to the promoter, who brings in new customers or sales. The promoter is called an affiliate, and the company is the retailer. Affiliate marketing can often get mixed up with digital marketing. Whilst the two are closely linked they are in fact different.

Who is Involved in Affiliate Marketing?

For affiliate marketing to work, it’s important to understand who is involved:

  1. Merchant or Advertiser: The merchant or advertiser is the business that offers products or services to be promoted by affiliates. They create the affiliate program, set the commission rates, and provide promotional materials and tracking tools to their affiliates.
  2. Affiliate or Publisher: The affiliate or publisher is the individual or company that promotes the merchant’s products or services through their marketing channels. They use their website, social media platforms, email lists, or other means to attract potential customers to the merchant’s website and earn a commission for each sale or lead generated.
  3. Network: The network is an intermediary platform that connects merchants with affiliates and provides tracking and reporting tools to both parties. The network manages the tracking of clicks, conversions, and commission payments, and facilitates communication between the merchant and their affiliates.
  4. Customer: The customer is the individual who purchases a product or service through an affiliate’s referral link or code. They may or may not be aware that they are participating in an affiliate marketing program (this should be clearly labelled on your website regardless). Their experience should not be affected by the affiliate’s promotion of the product or service.

As an affiliate promoting a merchant’s products, you’ll typically have the most interaction with the affiliate network and occasionally the merchant. While there may be some instances where you’ll have contact with the customer, most of the time they’ll be dealing directly with the merchant.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

  1. Unattached Affiliate Marketing: The affiliate has no connection with the product or service being promoted. This is a suitable option for affiliates who want to invest minimal time and effort into creating their own products or services. However, to succeed in this, it is still essential to have a good understanding of the target audience.
  2. Related Affiliate Marketing: The affiliate promotes a product or service within a niche they are an expert in. For example, a beauty blogger may promote makeup or beauty supplements, while a technology influencer may promote new gadgets, phones or computers. Being an expert in the niche makes this type more effective than unattached affiliate marketing since the audience is more likely to trust the affiliate’s suggestions.
  3. Involved Affiliate Marketing: The affiliate promotes a product or service they have personally used and experienced. To promote the product, the affiliate may need to create content, reviews, tutorials or testimonials. Involved affiliate marketing can add a personal touch to a promotion. This is beneficial for building long-term relationships with audiences. However, it also brings an element of risk to your brand. For instance, if any issues arise with the product or service being promoted, it can damage your brand reputation through a recommendation you have made.

Can I Use Google Ads for Affiliate Marketing?

The use of Google Ads for affiliate campaigns remains a controversial topic. Surprisingly, despite Google’s strict policies, there is nothing in them that prohibits such usage. In order for affiliate marketing to be successful, you need to drive traffic to your site. Google Ads can be used to accomplish this.

It is recommended to use Google Ads to drive traffic to your own website and then provide affiliate links within your content, not directly linking to the advertiser. Linking to the advertiser directly can cause all sorts of problems.

For instance, many advertisers may not want their brand reputation to be tarnished. If a poorly executed ad campaign leaves a negative impression on visitors, it could reflect poorly on the merchant, rather than the affiliate.

How To Use Google Ads for Affiliate Marketing

Before you start affiliate marketing with Google Ads, you need to set up a Google Ads account. Here are some step-by-step instructions as to how to get your account set up and start running advertisements.

Setting up a Google Ads Account

  1. Create an account with the Google Ads Network.
  2. Input your business and web address details.
  3. Set your main advertising goal. For affiliate marketing, a good choice would be “get more website leads and sales”.
  4. Write compelling titles and descriptions for your advertisement.
  5. Choose the geographical location you want your ads to show.
  6. Set your budget.
  7. Review the ad copy.
  8. Input payment details & publish.

Tracking Progress

It’s crucial to monitor the performance of your ad once it’s published. By tracking the right metrics, you can evaluate the success of your campaign and determine whether your budget has been utilised effectively. Metrics to consider are as followed:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): Number of clicks received divided by the number of times your ad is shown.
  • Conversion Rate: How many users have completed a desired action. For affiliate marketing, this could be how many people have clicked your affiliate links.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC): This is how much each click for your target keyword cost. You wouldn’t want the cost of acquiring a customer to be higher than the revenue you could generate from a successful affiliate sale.
  • Return On Investment (ROI): How much profit you’ve earned from ads relative to their cost.

When using Google Ads for affiliate marketing it is important to consider some best practices to prevent your account from getting suspended. You don’t want to feel the wrath of the Google gods coming down on you.

Linking directly to the advertiser is frowned upon by both Google and the companies. It’s best to avoid getting on anyone’s bad side. Additionally, when it comes to your own website, you have complete control over what goes on there, enabling you to make all the decisions.

Create A Compelling Website & Landing Pages

To avoid getting penalised by Google, directing users to a landing page that offers value rather than simply collecting data looks more reputable. This approach allows you to easily incorporate your affiliate links or an opt-in form in a natural way, without any major complications.

As-well as this, user’s will be more enticed to make a purchase if they have a good experience on the website.

Following Google Policies At All Times

Before using Google Ads for affiliate marketing it is beneficial to read through the Google misrepresentation or unfair advantage policies. Violating these policies can result in either just a warning or total account suspension. It’s best to be on the safe side and read through these thoroughly.

Choose A Good Affiliate Network/ Product

Choosing a reputable company to repesent for affiliate marketing is an important decision to make at the start of your campaign. It is essential to promote trustworthy and high-quality products or services to your audience. Consider joining affiliate networks that collaborate with reputable global brands.

Perform research into brands you want to represent, look at how they operate and how their products or services change the consumers lives. This can not only assist in creating better content to share with your audience but also help you establish a higher level of trust.

Avoid Misleading Statements

Writing statements that aren’t true can cause all sorts of problems. To begin with, deceiving consumers is a clear indication that the product or service is unable to fulfill its promises. This can lead to a loss of trust and damage to both your reputation and that of the merchant.

Furthermore, if customers request a refund, you may be charged by the affiliate program or the merchant and subsequently removed from the affiliate program.

Additionally, Google will immediately suspend your account, preventing you from running any future ad campaigns. Being completely honest is the best approach to avoid any potential trouble.

Don’t Bid on Brand Keywords

Each affiliate program will have its own rules and regulations as they have their own marketing strategies to perform.

Particular words and phrases are often targeted by advertisers, especially those used in their branding. Affiliates should avoid targeting these words as it would increase competition in the search engine results page for the merchant. It’s best to be aware of this to prevent being removed from the affiliate program.

Advantages of Affiliate Marketing With Google Ads

Before deciding whether affiliate marketing with Google Ads is for you, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons. Affiliate marketing with Google Ads has its many advantages and can make your campaign very profitable if executed effectively. Here are some reasons you should use Google Ads for your affiliate marketing campaigns:

  • Google is The Biggest Search Engine: Google is the biggest search engine. To put it into perspective Google manages to hone in 83.9 billion visits a month (Similarweb, 2023). This comes at no surprise as Google is usually the first point of call when people make a search online. Using Google Ads in your affiliate marketing venture means you have the potential to reach a huge audience.
  • Google Ads Provides Immediate Results: Google Ads can deliver immediate results, unlike SEO, which can take several months to show its effects. With Google Ads, you can start seeing results in just a matter of days.
  • Audience Targeting: You can target your ideal audience persona with Google Ads. As an affiliate, you should have a basic understanding of the target audience from the advertiser. You can narrow down ad campaigns to specific demographics such as age, gender, location, occupation and many more.
  • Retargeting: You can choose to retarget visitors who have already shown an interest in your site. The first initial time the visitor came to your site they may not have been ready to make a purchase. Retargeting with Google Ads can reinforce your website in their minds.

Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing With Google Ads

With a large list of advatanges you need to be aware of the disadvantages that come with using Google Ads for affiliate marketing:

  • Ads Cost Money: Using Google Ads will cost money, so it’s important you have funds that you are willing to invest. More competitive words will cost more per click, therefore it’s important to perform keyword research to identify terms you want to target.
  • Google Policies Are Strict: It’s far too easy to violate Google’s policies when you haven’t got a good understanding of them. Affiliate marketing is a bit of a grey area when there isn’t an exact policy just for this.
  • Some Merchants Don’t Allow Google Ads: Before carrying out affiliate marketing with Google Ads it’s important to make sure that the merchant allows this. Usually, merchants refuse the use of brand keywords, as this is what they would be targeting themselves. Checking with the merchant first and foremost is the best way to prevent you from getting removed from the affiliate program.
  • Your Website Needs to Be Valuable: You need to invest time into creating high-quality content and website design before you use Google Ads. Users need to arrive at your website and find value from it, otherwise, they will leave before making a conversion. Failing to do this will drain your ad budget.

Conclusion: Is Affiliate Marketing with Google Ads Worth It?

If performed correctly, using Google Ads for affiliate marketing can be a highly effective way to increase traffic to your website and earn more affiliate commissions. Assuming you are following Google’s policies and create a high-quality landing page that offers value, you can expect a significant return on investment.

Josh Halse
Josh Halse

Josh Halse is the owner of Comprehension Digital.

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