Despite the not so perfect reputation that affiliate marketing has are companies like Microsoft and even Google using this advertising and marketing channel with thousands of other retailers around the world to promote their products and services on the Internet.
This is part of Microsoft’s second expansion of their marketing efforts through an affiliate program. They used to have one for their Microsoft Shop via BeFree around the turn of the century and shut it down in 2003 or 2004 for unknown reasons.
Microsoft tested the affiliate marketing channel directly earlier this year by running some limited in volume and invitation only campaigns through Commission Junction and their advertising agency McCann and in May by the introduction of their in-house affiliate program tracking platform at MicrosoftAffiliates.net, which is a customized version of Kowabunga’s affiliate tracking and reporting platform MyAffiliateProgram.
Microsoft tested Microsoft AdCenter campaigns via CJ/McCann and campaigns for their relatively new Spyware/Antivirus/Disk Defrag/File Backup tool for home users called Microsoft Live OneCare, through their MicrosoftAffiliates.net site (which was launched as Beta in May this year)
The commission for the referral of a new customer is
$30 $35, which puts them towards the top of referral commissions paid by competing PPC services through their affiliate program.
The tracking links they have today go to MicrosoftAffiliates.net first and are then redirected to the target page, which could be any site in the vast network of domains used by the various Microsoft properties and websites. However, Kowabunga’s tracking technology supports direct linking of the target site and page, without funny 302 redirects via scripts on network owned domains, passing full link credit to the advertised page*.
*Kowabunga’s direct links have a tracking parameter in the URL, which creates a duplicate content problem (which can be remedied by 301 redirects), but there are technologies, such as “Naked Links” by LinkConnector or the referrer log tracking solution used by Best of the Web directory that do not require any special parameters added to the destination URL (= no duplicate content issue and no need for 301 redirects).
Those are the examples I referred to in my comment to Matt at my post from Sunday regarding the affiliate links = / != paid links?! debate.
I am not outing anybody here, because this type of linking was developed for other reasons primarily without the search engines in mind (I think I forgot the quote signs around this last statement hehe).
They have to do with affiliate tracking cookie blocking by paranoid users and greedy anti-virus/spyware software companies. This is a different topic altogether and would go way beyond the scope of this post.
The point that I am trying to make here is the fact that affiliate marketing might be associated by many with email spam, scraper sites, pop-up ads, Ad-Ware and “spammy” and “thin content” affiliate websites that litter the search engine results pages (more or less), but affiliate marketing is a lot more than that. That whole other part of it makes companies as big as Microsoft invest and use affiliate marketing as part of their overall online marketing strategy.
Grass-root affiliate marketing is a fan of a band raving about how that band is the best band in the world ever and make some income by linking to the CDNow website where the latest CD of that band is available for immediate online purchase. That was 1994 and that was how affiliate marketing started on the “above ground” part of the Internet. The concept itself is ancient and the first use of the concept on the internet was by an industry that continues to revolutionize and push boundaries of existing technologies as they did when the Internet became open to the public and commercial entities for the first time.
It is here to stay despite its problems, like it or not.
Internet Marketer, Affiliate and Entrepreneur.