PPC – Affiliate managers: It’s time to shift your focus beyond media

PPC - Affiliate managers: It’s time to shift your focus beyond media


If you manage affiliate programs, you know the positive impact of being featured in Good Housekeeping, CNN Underscored, Wirecutter and Rolling Stone’s listicles. 

  • They optimize incredibly well for high-intent shopping phrases. 
  • You see substantially higher conversion rates from the trust they add to the referral.
  • Major media adds credibility to your brand. 
  • Adding the media company’s logos to your brand’s PR bar helps increase shopper trust and conversions. 

The benefits do not stop there. As an affiliate manager, you can show top and mid-funnel traffic to your boss or clients.

You can be the hero to the PR team because their lives are easier with you keeping an affiliate program alive. 

You have the visibility and the keys to revenue in your company, giving you a good name. 

But Google’s introduction of AI-powered search could mean a shift away from media listicles. Here’s what affiliate managers can do about it.

If Google’s search generative experience (SGE) takes off, there may no longer be as much traffic going to media listicles

Based on the screenshots from SGE’s announcement and what industry advocates have shared, you’ll see that Google’s AI-powered search results feature stores in the top results with the affiliate listicles below them. 

This cuts the affiliate list out of the picture from the traffic it used to enjoy. But that does not mean mass media affiliate lists are not valuable. 

The companies mentioned above, along with Forbes Advisor, USA Today, Healthline, US News, BuzzFeed and other publications, drive traffic to the listicles from ads within their own sites. 

And their own sites are “destination sites,” meaning there is a regular readership as people use them as starting points for advice. 

The niche mass media sites can likely get the three featured boxes. Most important is that there are a loyal audience and traffic sources that can continue to bring in revenue. 

So don’t cut them out if SEO traffic dries up. Change your strategy.

You’ll still get some revenue from them, but not like you did when they dominated the top of “Best XYZ products” and “Top products for ABC” queries. So what can you do to replace this? 

I’d say go back to what made the affiliate channel high value in the first place, partnering with authentic voices and high-funnel touchpoints. 

These are partners that introduce customers at the top of the funnel and drive traffic to your website without having to use your brand in SEO, PPC, or other methods. 

Some of the new places your high-value partners may become top 10 include:

  • Shorts producers
  • Non-review video creators
  • Non-review content publishers
  • Destination sites

Shorts producers

The new SGE has a feature called Perspectives. 

If the person searching does not trust the results from the AI answer, they can flip to find real opinions. It could be about a product, about your company, or to create a solution. 

Micro-influencers with niche authority (plumbers, school teachers, moms that talk about local resources for kids, etc.) may be the big winners here.

Google is looking for and displaying “hidden gems” with the helpful content update. And it looks like perspectives may give these niche content producers an advantage. 

If they regularly share real experiences, are authoritative on the topic, and stick with their niche, they may likely be the hidden gems and get the features from the big queries that were dominated by mass media who rely on authority and editorial trust. 


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Non-review video and content producers

Non-review means the content creator is not reviewing your brand and does not include your brand in the title as keywords (specifically on YouTube). Instead, they focus on the solution. 

As affiliate managers, we often encourage reviews, but this may work against us. 

Adding your brand to the title tag and throughout the solution changes the meaning of the content. Here’s an example:

  • The best flower subscription
  • The best flower subscription from Amazon

Both of these will help an end user find a flower subscription. But one signals to a search engine or YouTube that they should only show the content when the brand is present in the query – in this case, Amazon. 

By removing the brand and instead using affiliate links that point to Amazon, the content now has a better chance to show up for the big phrase “best flower subscription.” 

Amazon still gets the sales and traffic and it is a pure value add since it’s traffic that the affiliate sent, and the consumer may not have been considering Amazon as an option. 

This is why you should encourage affiliates not to focus on your brand, especially with coupons and deals. Solve problems instead:

  • Find the best product.
  • Fix something that is broken.
  • Enhance a recipe.
  • Etc.

Doing the content without requiring your brand in the title and throughout the description signals to the search engine that the content applies to everyone. 

When your brand is included, it should only be shown to someone searching for the solution and your brand on the same query. 

It limits the amount of traffic your company can acquire and the amount the affiliate can make. 

The video may help the conversion because it shows the product does solve the problem. 

But it is not as high in value because the customer already knows about your brand and is already in the sales funnel. But it does add value, so again, don’t just remove them.

You can apply this to:

  • How to change the oil in an (insert car model)
  • Ways to bake an almond cake without sugar
  • 7 alternatives to the flat head screw
  • 9 home decor ideas for studio apartments

Don’t add the brand to the title. Your affiliates can increase their chances for traffic and revenue substantially while your company or client can gain new customers they wouldn’t have had without the partner.

Destination sites

Find and recruit destination websites into your programs. Since we’re referencing “destination sites,” I’ll use travel affiliate sites to illustrate. 

Expedia, TripAdvisor, The Points Guy, and others are destinations for consumers to research with a community or editors they trust. 

They have an active audience and community and when they want, they can pound your sales funnel with high-intent customers you may not have had without them. 

Because these sites are trusted communities, they will likely have an easier time getting into the three boxes the SGE interface recommends for more reading. 

They are the E-E-A-T “authorities” on specific queries. It could be big (like saving money on Disney) or small (like finding the best hiking excursions in Virginia wine country).

These websites have had years’ worth of user-generated content (UGC) and self-regulation by the community. These same people comment about the answers and fact-check them. 

The up-and-down voting, moderators, new comments from people that used the information, and verified customer reviews further build trust and should give the sites the ability to rank in these spaces easier. 

If your affiliate program can be featured on these pages with a resource, then you are the one who will benefit from the new search results if they get to be one of the linked resources. 

Your company also gets access to the community members looking for ideas and solutions on these pages. It is a huge win for traffic and sales, and there are communities for almost every niche. Parenting, beauty, marketing, developers, photography and artists, etc.

Partnering with authentic voices

There are other types of partners we should expect to see rising up based on the new SGE. It could be:

  • Forums with active moderation.
  • Wikis that are fact-checked and sourced.
  • Niche guides written by licensed and certified experts in the field. 

By investing in these and continuing to work with mass media, you can make up for the lower positions of the shopping listicles and potentially increase total volume for your company. 

So don’t panic if you notice the mass media listicles are a bit lower in the search results. 

Mass media adds a ton of value. The important thing is to keep those relationships strong and look at who is now getting the traffic. 

It’s a bit more work, but it is also more protection to your channel because you’re diversifying your traffic and revenue streams.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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