Google has announced that it has decided to shut down the Google Affiliate Network (GAN) to “focus on other products that are driving great results for clients.” Google has not stated an exact date for GAN’s retirement, but will wind down the product over the next few months. IMPLICATIONS At Performics, we know that affiliate is a critical part of your performance marketing strategy. While Google’s decision to shutter GAN presents many challenges, it also offers the opportunity for you to step back and re-evaluate your affiliate program before the peak holiday shopping season: 1. Consider Outsourced Affiliate Program Management vs. the Traditional Network Model Advertisers currently on GAN should take this opportunity to consider what type of affiliate model may be best going forward. In other words, is the traditional affiliate network model (e.g. GAN) appropriate for mature programs? At Performics, we believe it isn’t. We believe in the “agency model” (e.g. outsourced program management), which features an outside agency team—rather than the internal affiliate network team—servicing the client and representing your best interests. An outsourced management approach enables you to objectively manage and grow affiliate programs on any network or platform, leveraging opportunities outside the “walled garden” of the network. 2. Consider Alternative Affiliate Marketing Technology In addition to separating the service from the network, advertisers should also consider separating affiliate tracking technology. This frees you to work with emerging affiliate tracking platforms that are not only more advanced than affiliate network technologies, but also cheaper. These emerging platforms feature more robust reporting and tracking as compared to the affiliate networks, which still operate on legacy systems that haven’t garnered significant investment in recent years. 3. Consider a Private or In-House Network Mature advertisers on GAN may not want to simply transition to another network. These advertisers should consider a “dual approach”—e.g. take your high-volume, top-performing publishers and move them to a private or in-house network buffered by an advanced affiliate tracking platform. Then, take the remainder of your affiliate program and migrate it to another network to take advantage of the “network effect” and drive incremental sales. This approach gives you more control over your top publishers; it can also result in significant cost savings. To avoid the double work in managing two programs, consider an outsourced program management approach to manage both campaigns. 4. Better Integrate Affiliate into Your Performance Marketing Mix Affiliates play role in participants’ paths to purchase, but how great a role? And how does your affiliate program interact with other channels? Advertisers should take this opportunity to reevaluate exactly how affiliate fits into the marketing mix, including affiliate’s impact and relationship with other channels. By separating affiliate program management from the affiliate network, you can leverage a cross-channel approach where your affiliate, paid search, organic search, product listing ads (PLAs), display and social programs are holistically managed based on your participants’ purchase paths. For retailers, it’s key to have a holistic strategy in place by back-to-school, and there’s currently many changes in the retail landscape hitting advertisers at the same time, like these GAN changes, Google Enhanced Campaigns and innovations in PLAs. Performics will be working with our current affiliate clients on a migration plan. We can also help you transition from GAN, and we have a track record of migrating programs successfully. For guidance on transitioning your program, contact Performics today.