A good month or so ago I included a couple of Google Ads on my site and wrote a little about how to maintain one's integrity while still getting a little money in return. In the near future I'll be saying goodbye to most of the Google Ads implementations on this blog, replacing them with something that's hopefully a tad more useful to you, the reader of this blog. Do let me know what you think of the idea I will be presenting here.
In the comment section of my previous article Jethro Larson wrote a short bit on affiliate marketing. In my experience as a regular web user affiliate marketing is not as different from regular automated ad systems, only you focus on one particular store or product and you get paid per sale, not per click. Not a huge improvement over the regular Google Ads I have on this site.
But after giving it some extra thought I started to realize what Jethro meant by providing more of a service. Much like IMDb does on its film detail pages, wouldn't it be cool to provide direct links to the products I was reviewing? People interested in buying a film after reading the review wouldn't need to go through Google but could just follow the link on my article page.
shaping the idea
First I tested the automated product links but like most auto-generated lists they simply didn't offer sufficient quality links. While I'm sure these ads would boost my personal gain, I don't need anyone to promote the Avatar DVD on my blog. There are other places to go if you like that stuff, I'd rather focus on the films, music and games I love. I really wanted the ads to link as closely to the topic of the review. Luckily all the affiliate platforms I was targeting included some kind of deep link generator where you can simply generate a link to a product page and offer that on your site. Just what I needed.
I also believe in choice and since I'm not much of an amazon.com fan myself I looked around for several other programs to join. In the end I still joined the amazon.com program, reminding myself of the fact that these links are not meant for myself but as a service to my readers. Many people buy on amazon.com so who am I to push them to a different store. I joined three affiliate programs in all (play.com, yesasia.com and amazon.com) which I hope will grant enough coverage for the stuff I review here. So far I found quality links for most of the reviews I wrote so that's all good.
Looking at the ads these programs generated I still wasn't too happy with the result. They look like ads alright (and I'm sure their looks boost sales) but I wasn't prepared to massacre my blog for that. Determined I could do a better job we tweaked the back-end a little so I could manually add the affiliate links. Trying to complete earlier reviews with appropriate ads has been a hell of a job (and I'm only halfway there) but I'm sure it will pay off in the end.
Besides the extra ad block on the review pages we're also planning on replacing the generic Google Ad blocks in the context column. We will add a block of three related affiliate ads (for example three movies in the movies/review section) with an extra link that points to the actual review. This way the ads also give me a chance to create some extra visibility for older reviews, how's that for a win/win situation. This ad block is still not implemented when writing this article but it will definitely appear in the very near future.
While I'm pretty sure there are much better ways to market these products in terms of personal gain I'm excited with the merge of functionality and advertising. All the ads are extremely relevant, they offer a new and hopefully useful functionality to my readers and the new ad block even increases the visibility of older articles.
If you want to see a random example in its full glory you can check out the Shamo review, where the ads will appear as the second block in the related context section. There is still a little problem with the amazon implementation but those links will follow quickly.
The Google Ad block on the ie6 css fixer page will remain as I believe it's about the only place where it actually belongs, all the other Google Ads will disappear over time. If you guys have any other bright ideas, do use the comment section. This article is the ultimate proof I'm willing to listen if they're any good :)