Google Undermining Paypal in Their War on Affiliates


The Google Checkout blog announced that they are charging no transaction fees through the end of 2007. In a WMW thread Marcia highlighted Checkout's affiliate features:

Is everyone also aware that Google Checkout is washing affiliate links/tracking and not tracking those that are tracked with cookies, so that affiliates won't get paid for sales made by customers they send to merchants using Google Checkout?

Is Google Checkout just a way to identify commercial sites and strip affiliate payouts while posing as an online payment processor? Or is it a testbed for offline financial transactions as well?


Sounds a little desperate... me. Need to become popular to be profitable. I don't think the adoption rate has been as high as Google has hoped.


washing affiliate links/tracking

Isn't that an incentive not to use Google Checkout? If the bulk of your sales are generated through affiliates, and you use Google Checkout, your affiliates and most likely gonna drop you.

Google are most likely to lose customers for that reason alone.

Google should

Google should work on the product before trying to play games like this. The few people I know who have added checkout to their site has had to remove it due to it being a total disaster. Taking over a week to verify transactions, denying regular customers, and so on.

But it looks like they are washing affiliate links, much like spyware companies do in overwriting them. Although it is easiest to blame Google, the retailers are ultimately responsible for ensuring the sanctity of their affiliate traffic. If a retailer accepts Google Checkout, I will not promote them any longer. I would hope other affiliates would follow.

Google Check out

I'm putting Google Checkout on my wifes site. It's pretty easy to get set up. My host didn't have the domxml library isntalled on the version of php I use but hacking around it wasn't to hard. I plan on posting the non domxml work around on my site if anyone wants it.

Important re Affiliate Tracking

I commented to some degree on the affiliate tracking issues in the WMW thread. I've also written 2 very in-depth blog posts about the topic for anyone that wants more in-depth info about what's happening, what IS being done and what CAN be done.

In nutshell I don't think Google is washing any affiliate tracking and certainly not on purpose. BUT the fact still remains that most Checkout merchants are not currently tracking affiliate commissions through checkout - so it's a HUGE issue for the holidays.

Merchants and networks need to jump on this quick and get it fixed. A couple already have, so it's doable. We just need to put pressure on the rest to find a solution. Since G just yesterday extended the free transaction offer for another full year, I predict this issue is only going to get worse with more merchants jumping on the Checkout bandwagon.

Here's my most recent blog about the issue with a cute pic of Matt Cutts pushing Google Checkout. (Thanks Cartoon Barry AKA RustyBrick!)

Google Checkout Eats Affiliate Holiday Sales - New Info Part 2

I also have a forum discussion going about this issue if anyone finds out any new info or has questions. I'm happy to be a conduit of information and help however I can.

Do no evil?

Google washes links. Affiliates drop merchants. Merchants lose sales. Merchants replace sales with PPC.


Some of those affiliates were likely using PPC in the first place.

Just one of many evils..

Google is giving away (and probably will end up always giving away) checkout just for the data it provides. Checkout completes the sales circle:

Adwords > Urchin (Analytics) > Checkout

The sheep are being led to slaughter by one word, free.

Wait until G incorporates their newfound knowledge of ad spend to order value. I predict huge increases in click costs at least during the holidays, in much the same way the shopping engines instituted bid increases after giving away their "free" conversion trackers.

Linda, as soon as I heard

Linda, as soon as I heard people saying that there were tracking issues, I escalated it to the Google Checkout folks. I know they're looking to see if there's anything they can do pretty quickly to help on this issue.

Matt Rocks!

Wow Matt. So glad you picked this up and got the news to the right folks. Did the fact that I used your cute pic help get your attention??? ;-)

I'll be sure to let people know in the forums and blogs discussing this that Checkout is looking into it, thanks to you! I'm in a private affiliate manager only forum discussing this with affiliate managers from many of the top etailers and will them know too. You ROCK!!!


For a very small business like me Checkout is fantastic - since implementing the invoicing I am a total convert.

Ok it's big business but small businesses like mine rely on simple, low cost solutions.

Winner takes all - I see no evil

Happy to help, Linda. :) I

Happy to help, Linda. :) I mentioned it to Checkout people before I saw your article (I think Carsten (sp?) mentioned it a day or so ago?), but your post here and your article made me circle back around and ping the Checkout people.

Will they reimburse affiliates?

I wonder if Google will reimburse affiliates the same way they do for Adwords( PPC Fraud ),.I think not, and they are actually trying to kill off the affiliate industry in the process, which I think is by design. This is just round 2 of their hunt against affiliates and their publishers, the first is the quality score implementation of the landing page, which they consider it spam, if the links on the page have affiliate codes on them. Let's see how the battle is won, if ever.. My 2 cents..

Thats retarded to even think

Its retarded to even think that for longer that 2 seconds. Think of the liability that would bring to them if that were true.


I'd have a pretty hard time believing this was an intentional effort at harming affiliates, merchants or driving more money to PPC because of it.

Yeah. It would be such an

Yeah. It would be such an egregious act that we shant even think they would do such.

Who's to stop Google?

Ok I do agree and think it would be very unethical for Google to do such things, But is it impossible? I think not. Do they have more to gain or lose? Who is going to police their actions, and legally speaking, there are no laws against washing links. What they have just done is legal from their point of view, so why shouldn't they do it? There is no liability to them, It's their own webisite (Google Checkout ) and they can argue ( if it comes to litigation ) that they are protecting their own "property" wether it's virtual or intellectual. Affiliates have no chance against them.
They also have a big war chest of cash, so litigation is never a problem with them, e.g. " acquiring Youtube ".

Washing Links???

Again Google Checkout is not washing links. They aren't purposely stripping anything out! It's just very difficult for merchants and networks to figure out the best way to integrate and pass the data and many merchants jumped on CO without thinking of the ramifications it would have for affiliates.

Anytime merchants add a new 3rd party payment solution they need to figure out how to make the tracking work. I'm sure when merchants 1st started using Paypal the same issues arose.

The big difference with Checkout is a)Paypal and other payment processors arent free, so there wasn't a big surge of merchants all at once 2) It probably didn't happen right before the holidays so didn't have as much impact 3) There were no bloggers then. As merchants gradually joined Paypal they realized they needed to figure out tracking issues. Worked to figure it out before anyone knew about it and made it a big public issue. (Like I and other bloggers did.)

Networks should have foreseen this and worked out a solution sooner - Google should have foreseen it and could have made it a little easier to integrate too I think.

Not saying this doesn't suck for affiliates, because it does! Just trying to put things in perspective. Only a few merchants right now are affected that have not worked out the tracking issues. Some are manually crediting affiliates, plus the networks and Google are talking together to work out integration issues. This all just could not have happened at a worse time.

Okay, here we go. When I

Okay, here we go. When I first saw this at the discussion was around pixel tracking not working with Google Checkout.

Documentation for pixel tracking went live I believe late last night:

I think pixel tracking in Google Checkout should help with this issue.

(Also posting on WMW and the SEJ article.)


.....the price of being a success is, sad to say, having one's every move scrutinized.

Good, Bad - but I'm sure no evil intended


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