The Fallacy of Pay Per Action Programs

(Note – if you haven’t read about the Google Pay Per Action advertising program, go to this post and read about it first…)

Vario Creative offers effective google adwords campaigns for advertisersI’ve got my publisher hat on here.  Let me ask this question:  why should I as a publisher be responsible for the effecacy of your campaign?

Think about it, if I buy a car because it has an air bag in it, I can’t refuse to pay for the car until such time as the air bag has deployed.  But that’s the essence of the new pay per action program from Google.  Publishers only get paid when someone goes to company XYZ’s site and does something they want them to do, such as sign up for a service, buy a product or register to do something.  So why am I at risk if you’ve got a crappy product? 

Let’s look at a potential scenario.  I’ve got a bunch of advertisters testing the water on my site with Pay Per Action.  They’ve (prudently) got maximum expenditures set and the well constructed campaigns fulfill for the day rather early.  Meanwhile I’ve got the clowns clogging up my ad cycles using my inventory…for free.  Think about it, what we’re doing here is offering do overs for people who can’t convert on the customers we’ve delivered them. 

Essentially, Pay Per Action makes the publisher responsible for the full advertising cycle, and it makes them the eventual fall guy for problems wholly out of their control. 

Another scenario: I have a niche site with a hundred thousand active users in a particular interest group, let’s say Saltwater Fly Fishing.  I have one campaign that’s cycling on my site for a $20 pair of binoculars.  And another for a $900 rod and reel combo.  But both are running at the same bid amount.  Am I potentially going to sell more binoculars or rods?

I’m not saying no, yet, to pay per action, and frankly, I could be missing something.  But I really think that if I’m going to be made responsible for the entire cycle, I should have the following:

  • The ability to set a minimum bid price on ads in rotation on my site.
  • Instead of a bid, I should recieve a commission on the sale. 
  • I should easily be able to opt out of campaigns and customers, without having to manually enter the excluded advertisers. 

The truth here is publishers have been asked to shoulder a lot of the risk, with no promise of partaking in the benefits.

(Tommorrow I will give my assessment from the point of view of an advertiser…)

2 Replies to “The Fallacy of Pay Per Action Programs”

  1. Fine, forget Google and get a standard affiliate program like Commission Junction. Then you have full control of what is offered. Did you know you could get up to 13% of the sale at Walmart!!!

    So stop complaining.

  2. Right, it’s Google so we all need to bow down. How will things ever improve without discussion?

    For the record, as an advertiser, I am very excited about the system. I am concerned about what happens to my revenue stream as a publisher when this replaces my Adsense ads.

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