How to run affiliate campaigns on Google Ads (formerly AdWords)There is no short answer to this question, but by the end of this 3 minutes read, you will have the exact playbook that will enable you to run affiliate campaigns on Google Ads.
Myths about Affiliate Marketing and Google Ads:
- Google has nothing against affiliate marketing, as long as the content is compliant with its policies.
- You don’t need to place the Google Ads conversion Tag on the merchant’s website to track the conversions.
Because Google policies and tracking requirements are often misunderstood, affiliates often get their accounts shut down or their ads disapproved.
There are also a number of “gurus” that will sell you methods that fall short of providing the right instructions.
Before I get to the exact guidelines on how to run affiliate campaigns on Google Ads, it is important to understand that Google cares about is providing value to users. For this reason, they apply strict content policies across the network.
How to run affiliate campaigns on Google Ads
Before I go through the details, I think it’s important to understand and never deviate from two rules:
Rule Number 1: Never run ads on Google if you can’t track the entire buyer’s journey from the ad click to the actual sale.
Rule Number 2: Never forget Rule Number 1
You might think it is funny, but considering that:
Half the money spent on ads is wasted, and most marketers don’t know which half.
These rules should be the first building blocks of your Google Ads campaigns.
Now, how do you track affiliate campaigns on Google Ads is really the question you should be asking and I’ll explain why.
Simply because once you’ve built your ads, landing pages, and funnels, you are like most advertisers.
You fight to get the right visitors to click on your ads and buy a product.
However, as an affiliate marketer, you dont have the same tracking methods.
So what sets affiliate marketers apart from direct advertisers?
The one and only difference is Conversion Tracking.
Direct advertisers can add their Google Analytics (GA) tracking code across their site, including their checkout page.
As an affiliate marketer you can add your Google Analytics code on your site, but you won’t be able to add it on the advertiser checkout page (also known as the Thank you page).
That’s a huge disadvantage, and you’ll understand soon why.
Since you can only use your Google Analytics on your site, the only conversion Goal you can send to Google Ads is when visitors click on “Call to Action”. Your sale or CPA conversion will ONLY be reported in your affiliate accounts.
On the other hand, the direct advertiser who has its GA code across its site and “Thank You” page will report all conversions to Google Ads, including the sales.
The biggest mistake you can make is assume that since all visitors that made a purchase started with a “Click on the Call To Action”, it will be enough for Google to optimize your ads according to this goal.
Since your conversion data is used by Google algorithms to determine who should see your ads, you will provoke this counterproductive outcome:
- Google will serve your ads to users who have the most chances to reach your desired Goal
- Google will serve the direct advertiser’s ads when users have the most chances to make a purchase.
Also Read Best Tips for SEO Strategy of Website
Who do you think is going to survive the bidding war?
As your campaign runs, your return on ad spend (ROAS) will shrink and Google will allocate more quality traffic to the direct advertiser. Eventually, you will give up on Google Ads, and the direct advertiser will keep growing.
Now that you understand that unless you are properly tracking and feeding Google Ads with as much conversion data as possible, your chances to run a successful campaign on Google Ads are very thin.
Prerequisites to run your affiliate campaigns on Google Ads.
First and foremost, you need to map the customer journey’s and the data flow:
The data flow: Where the touch points should be tracked?
- Click on ad – Google Analytics & Google Ads
- Visit your landing page – Google Analytics
- Click out to offer link – Google Analytics + affiliate program
- Converts on advertiser’ site
- Affiliate Program
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads
Then, once you have mapped the customer journey, you need to gear up with a conversion tracking platform that can seamlessly track the customer journey.
As you understood earlier, since you can’t add your Google Analytics code on the affiliate program, you will need to use a tracking platform built specifically to bridge this crucial gap.
AnyTrack.io is a conversion tracking platform that helps affiliate marketers track and sync conversions with their Google Analytics account.
Since AnyTrack strictly follows the tracking and measurement protocols set by Google, you can work with confidence and make the most out of Google’s powerful optimization engine.
AnyTrack’ “plug & play” integrations with Google Analytics and affiliate networks, makes it easy for newbies or advanced users to get started.
Once you have created a free account on AnyTrack, you are prompted setup your account:
- Add your site’s domain : ex: top10review.app
- Add the AnyTrack TAG to your site’s <head>
Very much like you would add Google Analytics to your site (you can also add it through Google Tag Manager)
- Connect with Google Analytics
👉 The connection allows AnyTrack to set the conversion goals that will sync with Google Ads.)
- Connect with your Affiliate Networks
- Select the networks you want to track
(there are over 50 affiliate networks currently integrated in AnyTrack)
- Get your postback conversion URL and add it to your affiliate accounts (exact instructions are provided for each affiliate network)
- Select the networks you want to track
Settings in Google Analytics:
- Link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts
This will allow you to send conversion goals from Gogle Analytics to Google Ads.
Google Ads account settings:
- Import Google Analytics Goals
(the goals that have been set when you connected Google Analytics with your AnyTrack account)
- Add the URL tracking template on your account settings.
(the tracking template is provided in your AnyTrack account)
Google Ads campaign settings:
- Create your campaigns / ad groups and ads
- Select the conversion goal you will want to optimize your campaigns for.
- Et voila! You can launch your campaigns!
Thats it, once you’ve gone through these steps you’re ready to run your affiliate campaigns on Google Ads.
If you follow these steps, you will be able to run affiliate campaigns on Google Ads and play with the same tools that top agencies and advertisers have access to.
- Track the entire customer journey
- Test different bidding strategies with confidence
- Optimize campaigns according to ROI
- Retarget users according to their position in the conversion journey