The Safari Problem: Google Affiliate Network Leaves Loyalty Affiliates Holding the Bag

When an affiliate network does something right, I generally want to reward their efforts. During this month’s Google Affiliate Network Client Summit, Google did something right. Immediately upon the start of the conference Dan Greene, Director of New Product Solutions for GAN, addressed the elephant in the room: the lack of GAN pixels tracking on Safari browsers.

Greene attempted to assure the audience, of both affiliates and advertisers, that GAN was working on the problem. That it would be solved soon and that affiliates would be compensated retroactively until it was resolved. It was a well-timed speech and delivered with the self-effacing humor Dan Greene does very well. Kudos to the GAN team for not shying away from the topic. It was spun just right.

GAN admitting culpability was a great start. However retroactively compensating affiliates for missed commissions is hardly good enough.

You see, for most affiliates having some compensation for missed sales is better than nothing. And many folks I talked to after the session mention that they didn’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. After all, why raise a fuss if some compensation is coming in?

Customer Service Nightmare

Who this really hurts though are the loyalty affiliates. For them, this is a customer service nightmare. Because while they may get some compensation, that compensation is hardly worth the customers they may lose in the interim.

Let’s take a scenario. Imagine you are a company like NextJump who runs the employee rewards programs for large corporations. Just envision having to go to a corporate partner like Dell and explain to them:  “We know Dell employees bought through the employee rewards program. But unfortunately we don’t know which ones to compensate. You see it’s a GAN problem. I’m sure you understand.  Perhaps you can send out an HR newsletter.”

That conversation is not going to go well.

And this is not a fictional scenario. People like earning miles, points, cash back, and free cows on Farmville. It’s why loyalty affiliates can be such powerful drivers of revenue for advertisers. The problem occurs when people don’t get the quid pro quo they expect.

Since GAN’s Client Summit, I’ve had several affiliate managers with programs exclusively on GAN tell me that they’ve had loyalty publishers stop driving traffic to them.

Unlike search in the affiliate space, GAN is not the de facto leader. Loyalty affiliates have other choices. Until this problem is fixed, I anticipate loyalty affiliates will move their traffic from GAN advertisers to those on other networks. If this problem lingers, you’ll likely see many advertisers follow them to the exit.

Again, while I applaud GAN for acknowledging the elephant in the room, until that proverbial elephant is corralled, the situation will continue to erode trust among their publisher base. And considering the larger Safari issue, which Google just got fined by the FTC for, an easy resolution is unlikely.

About Angel Djambazov

Born in Bulgaria, Angel Djambazov has spent his professional career in the fields of journalism and online marketing. In his journalistic career he worked as an editor on several newspapers and was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Wyoming Homes and Living Magazine. Later his career path led to online marketing where while working at OnlineShoes he earned the Affiliate Manager of the Year (2006) award at the Affiliate Summit, and In-house Manager of the Year (2006) award by ABestWeb.

For four years Angel served as OPM for Jones Soda for which he won his second Affiliate Manger of the Year (2009) award at Affiliate Summit.

Currently Angel serves as OPM for KEEN Footwear and MedicalRecords.com. His former clients include: Dell, Real Networks, Jones Soda, Intelius, Graphicly, Chrome Bags, Onlineshoes.com, Vitamin Angels, The Safecig, and Bag Borrow or Steal.

Angel is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher for ReveNews.com and ReveNews.org.

Angel lives north of Seattle, spending his free time reading up on obscure scientific references made by his wife MGX, while keeping up with a horde of cats and a library of books.

You can find Angel on Twitter @djambazov.