Former Yahoo hacker turned Feedster hacker Ray suggests that search engines are missing out by not dropping in an affiliate code in their links back to sites like Near the end of that post he says:

And when I do click the product link on Google's result page, they're missing out on any potential revshare. I don't think inserting an affiliate ID would be seen as doing evil or tarnish their credibility. It wouldn't even give me pause in clicking the link, and the majority of users wouldn't notice it.

Oh, now that's just funny.

Here's a reality check: If a search engine just started dropping those codes in their results, they'd be crucified. Crucified by the technical press, the SEOs, and a bunch of bloggers. Imagine the conspiracy theories!

"Are results really better, or are they first because the search engine makes $0.40 if I buy that DVD?"

Oh, it'd be quite the little PR crisis.

But they do notice the sponsored links, which are mostly affiliate links anyhow. So is that real reason why nobody's using affiliate links- they're afraid it will cannibalize their sales of sponsored links?

Those links are clearly labeled as "sponsored" links. If a search engine dropped in affiliate links in their untainted reuslts, they'd suddenly be lableing a lot of their links as "sponsored" or something similar, wouldn't they?

In the traditional publishing world (that is, print publishing) there's supposed to be a brick wall between the people who work to get advertisements and those who produce content. The former often report up through or work with the Publisher, while the others generally fall under the Editor in Chief.

The same thing is supposed to be true in large financial institutions. The "analysts" are separate from the underwriters--those who work to take companies through their IPOs. The SEC frowns upon any contamination.

Given the financial ecosystems created by search engines and pay per click advertising, a similar barrier has to exist between search results and "sponsored" results.

But feel free to test your theory on Feedster. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at December 05, 2004 11:55 PM

Reader Comments
# said:

Isn't that what Froogle is/was trying to do?

on December 6, 2004 02:13 AM
# White Wolf said:

That's what looksmart tried not too long ago and I believe it they took quite a poke in the eye for it.

Peace & Blessings

on December 6, 2004 05:50 AM
# Tony Gentile said:

Jeremy, bud, Yahoo deserves an equal smack-down for its own practices...

on December 6, 2004 09:17 AM
# Michael Conlen said:

I agree that dropping affiliate code in to URLs in the search results would be a disaster but then they could drop an Amazon link in the sponsored links section at the top.

On the other hand that would probably piss off a lot of people like me who review movies on their blog and hope to get someone, someday, somewhere to buy one of them, ever. I mean really, c'mon, how hard is it to click on the link.

Sorry, meanwhile back outside my head, I'm thinking it's best left alone. One way or another you're going to piss someone off. If they want to make ad revenue from their web pages they could try AdSense...

on December 6, 2004 11:01 AM
# Arnab said:

Well, it would be cool if one could use an 'advanced settings' page (using a cookie, or whatever) to include a _specific_ Affiliate ID for such things. That way I can help someone (or myself) earn some money!

on December 6, 2004 07:10 PM
# Mihai Parparita said:

I believe MoreGoogle/LostGoggles ( inserts their affiliate code into any Amazon search results. See this question in their FAQ here:

I believe they also create fake "Sponsored Links" entries for Amazon products if deemed relevant to the query.

on December 6, 2004 08:50 PM
# Dave said:

re: Isn't that what Froogle is/was trying to do?

My understanding is that Froogle isn't doing this. But the other comparison engines are, as is yahoo directory.

Kelkoo (the European comparison site bought by Yahoo) does it - I guess this is why it was worth 450 million USD to Yahoo.

Most of the time the big guys are being paid per click so you can't see that you are following an affiliate link (the tracking is simpler).

on December 8, 2004 12:58 AM
# David said:

So is it possible to make a product feed for froogle that basically links to affiliates sites? therefore raising money for us? it's an interesting idea don't you think?...

on January 13, 2005 05:15 AM
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