Google’s New PPA Program Opens Up New Opportunities for Bloggers

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Last week, Google announced the beta test of their new pay-per-action (PPA) advertising program. In addition, Google mentioned a new ad format, the text link ad (which will presumably be similar to the current referral text link unit.), would be available. This new ad format, along with the new PPA (or affiliate) model, will open up new potentials for bloggers to make money from their blogs.

There is a big difference between Google’s new CPA ads and their traditional, context-based AdSense ads. According to the AdSense program’s policy, publisher is not allowed to call attention or encourage their site’s readers to click on the ads, since the advertiser pays on a per-click basis. If a blogger writes, “It’s been a tough month, please be kind enough to click on a few Google ads to help make ends meet,” there’s a very good chance said blogger will find their AdSense account suspended. But with the new CPA ads, since the advertiser only pays when a specific action is taken by the user, a publisher is allowed to encourage or draw attention to the ads.

Google’s existing ad units are meant to act as supplements to the content of a site; for a blog, you can place an AdSense unit above, below, to the side, or even in the middle of a blog post, but the unit physically looks separate from the content.

Google Text Link AdsThe new text-link ad unit, however, can be embedded in the middle of a post, in the middle of sentence even. Bloggers will be able to link to offers, much as they can now link to Amazon products using Amazon’s affiliate links, within the content of their post. And since there are no restrictions to calling attention to an ad, bloggers will be able to encourage their readers to click on the ad and check out the offer.

An interesting technichal question that arises from this is how these links will work when included in a syndication feed. Like Google’s other AdSense ad units, the text-links will likely be snippets of Javascript code that a publisher embeds into their site.

Javascript will work fine in a browser on a normal web page, but when that same Javascript is exported in the blog’s syndicated feed, and rendered in an aggregator such as Bloglines or Google Reader, that strip out Javascript elements for security reasons, those links will not appear.

Google may address this issue by implementing the links in a form other than Javascript, such as how their AdSense for Feeds units are implemented, or provide alternate code that will work in environments where Javascript is not available. It will be important for bloggers, especially those that publish full content and have significant numbers of readers via their feed, to make sure the new text-link format works properly in a feed-based environment.

It will also be interesting to see how this new format is embraced by those that were critical of blog-based text-link marketplace services such as PayPerPost; the Google CPA/text-link model is not quite the same as paying bloggers to post, but it is similar in that it provides incentive for a large group of users to focus on a specific product. If a new ad for Company X is released, and thousands of bloggers begin posting about Company X, Company X’s site will likely receive an influx of plain-old links (in addition to the Google text-link ad units) from many blogs, increasing it’s visibility in search engines, memetrackers and other sites/programs that follow trends in the blogosphere.

Google takes a negative view towards paid links, and memetrackers such as TailRank have banned sites that participate in PayPerPost, as these practices artificially promote stories/sites that are not necessarily interesting in and of themselves.

Will a similar approach be taken to sites that utilize Google’s text-link ad units? A larger question is: What potential ways could the text-link, or CPA model in general, be creatively used/abused by those looking to get attention and traffic to their sites?

Google’s new Cost-Per-Action model opens up many new potential opportunities for bloggers, but also raises a host of questions. It will be interesting to see how things unfold as the program comes out of beta.

Greg Gershman is the co-founder of BlogDigger, an independently owned blog search engine which offers local blog search.

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  • Owen Cutajar

    As you say, it should be interesting to watch how things will shape up. It true Google fashion, the service is still in Beta, which sets people’s expectations that things may change before the service is set in stone. But you’re right, there’s lots of potential for great new things in the CPA model.

  • Dan

    I have my company in the beta. Have not been able to get any data or clicks or anything for it. And once you put in a CPA price…you can’t change it unless you start a whole new campaign.

  • Windows Vista

    Yahoo still paying higher than google for PPC through.

  • Buster

    I thought you would talk about the moral dilemmas that bloggers will face: should you promote a product that you don’t really like just for ad revenues? Coz that’s what will happen. Like product placements on tv. The independence (and therefore trustworthiness) of the blogosphere is at stake here. I can’t say I’m happy with this development. It’s not easy to get impartial information on the web as it is, and this certainly isn’t going to improve matters.
    But hey, what’s there to do? There’s no stopping commerce.

  • Spud

    Implemented well this could a win win situation. I can the smart bloggers actually increasing their earnings under this new scheme and also providing a win for the advertisers themselves. I like what Google are doing with this program.

  • Zach Blume

    How about a rel=”ad” tag so we can greasemonkey them. That’d be polite. Please google?

  • owlsowls

    The effect of the change is yet to be seen…
    Freedom of thought and expression does and
    should remain the motivation…commerce is what it is…

  • Greg Gershman

    Zach: I hadn’t thought about this, but if someone is running AdBlock, which removes the Javascript that presents Google Ads, and a blogger has used text link ads in a post, will there be blank spaces, or words missing, from the content of the blog post?

    Buster: I think you are right, that it will make this kind of thing easier; but there have been plenty of opportunties until now for bloggers to market to their audience, and it hasn’t ruined things yet (those blogs that push products do so at the risk of loosing their audience). It will, however, provide motivation for further text-based spam-blogging. And as you said, this has the potential to have a really detrimental affect on generic search results due to oversaturation of posts about a specific product.

  • Roger

    This is sad. I hope they work it out because PPA has been a long for needed model. Is it going to be only limited to blogs? I hope not.

  • fat free milk

    This is no help to idiot bloggers like me who were too stupid to understand html, adsense and site trackers in the first place.

  • Paulo

    can we see these new text link adds in action. i wonder how it looks like.

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    Paulo, they look like a link, but the mouseover alt attribute says “Ads by Google”.

    For a screenshot see:

  • Roy Gerbil

    I don’t see how this is any different than all the other blog advertising that’s available now. I embed clickbank ads into my blog posts all the time and they work with Google Reader and the others.

  • Andy Beard

    Are Google allowing disclosure? They certainly prevent it for the referral units even though you are allowed to promote them. You are not allowed to say you make money from them.

    This is javascript, so you are going to have to have the links outside the flow of the content, just like Adsense.
    It is a different payment model, not a different usage.

  • tech

    Yahoo still paying higher than google for PPC through.
    but google is the best 🙂

  • Whiteboard

    I agree with what Buster said above…that we should think about the moral dilemma as well. Seems like the foundation of what many bloggers (and other independent producers) is freedom of big business interference in their content. Seems that these moves are inching them closer and closer to what they didn’t want to begin with.


  • Matt S.

    This is definately a tricky issue. How can bloggers be seen as “real people” when they’re selling advertising on the site. In hindsight, how can ad agencies make money using more traditional advertising methods and compete with this kind of technology without seeming as if they sponsor the blog?

  • ec.ningaraja

    i intersted give the my website ads in ur google & other search engines.
    please give price, duration etc.

  • Johnny_Cash

    Added to my blogmark in here: