What is the difference between affiliate marketing vs. AdSense?
When it comes to making money online without retailing your own physical goods or services, two of the most widely-recognized tried and tested approaches to doing this are affiliate marketing vs. AdSense.
You can make money with Google AdSense and affiliate marketing by showcasing third-party ads or promotions within your own blog or website, and in some cases, via various other channels too. However, whilst affiliate marketing vs AdSense is often seen as two sides of the same coin – and AdSense is sometimes referred to as a type of affiliate partnership – these two systems are very different in terms of how they operate, what they do, and how you can use them to earn an income.
In this article, we will look at the differences between AdSense vs. affiliate marketing, explain the meaning of these two respective terms, and highlight the similarities between the two systems and how they work too, with their benefits and limitations.
Let’s look at the definitions of affiliate marketing vs. AdSense to get started.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting and marketing specific third-party products or services in order to capture leads, make sales, or generate traffic for the third-party site or scheme.
The principle of affiliate marketing is that the affiliate – the person marketing or promoting someone else’s offerings – gets paid a set rate of commission for every successful action they achieve. This action might be as simple as getting a click through to the partner site, or it may involve making an acquisition or triggering a sale.
The affiliate is responsible for marketing and promoting their affiliate partner’s goods or services across whatever channels they choose – from websites and blogs to email mailshots to social media posts, paid adverts and more – and their success in doing so determines the level of their pay outs.
Affiliates have complete control over what they choose to promote and how they choose to do it, and they manage their content and promotions themselves, deciding when, where, and how to showcase them.
What is AdSense?
So, what is AdSense? Well, AdSense is an advertisement publishing platform operated by Google, which enables publishers that join Google’s network of content sites to show automated adverts to their visitors. These may be in text, image, video, or interactive formats, and are designed to compliment the type of organic content and audience demographics of their host site.
AdSense marketing is delivered automatically by Google, who chooses and places the ads on the third-party site rather than the site’s owner picking and showcasing ads of their own choosing. The owner of the website that hosts AdSense ads earns commissions for doing so, which may be paid out per impression of the ad, or per click received on the ad.
AdSense ads are placed only on sites that Google chooses, and they can’t be integrated into email mailshots or your social media posts.
This means that people who host AdSense ads are Google affiliates, although AdSense isn’t strictly what one would think of as an affiliate scheme in the true sense of the word.
AdSense or affiliate: How it works in practice
When you join Google’s network of content sites, you become part of the Google affiliate network, and are able to show the ads and promotional content on your own websites that Google decides are a good match.
Google affiliate sites aren’t generally set up specifically to make money with AdSense – they are usually designed for another purpose that is compatible with the AdSense model, which enables them to cover some of the costs of operating the site and potentially, make a profit by selling ad real estate.
However, despite the fact that the term “affiliate” is often used to refer to people who partner with AdSense to showcase ads, the lack of control over the showcased content and the limited ability to choose an appropriate commission structure to work within makes it very different from a standard affiliate scheme. Affiliate schemes offer a greater degree of flexibility, freedom, and control, as well as the potential to earn much larger sums of money than is the case for AdSense affiliates.
So, what are the core differences between affiliate marketing vs. AdSense? Let’s take a look.
• Affiliate marketing allows the prospective affiliate to choose between a wide range of different schemes to find the one that is the best fit for them. Google AdSense affiliates and partner sites have to work under Google’s own set framework and payment structure.
• Affiliate marketers can pick the commission structure that they want, in terms of the action required to trigger a commission payment, and the level of commission they can earn. With Google AdSense, this is predetermined.
• Affiliate marketers have complete control over the products and services they offer, and can choose those they like and want to work with. AdWords partners showcase ads chosen by Google, who place them automatically within the content.
• Affiliate marketers can choose where, when, and how they promote their affiliate products and offers, with a much greater degree of control over their business and promotions. AdSense partners only have static, set locations to place their ads within, on their own website pages.
• Affiliates can advertise and promote their offerings across the internet at large, integrating social media posts, mobile ads, email mailshots, paid adverts and much more. AdSense partners don’t have the opportunity to do this, and particularly, there is no AdSense email marketing provision to allow you to send out mailshots.
• It is almost always the case that a busy, successful website or host portal that brings in a lot of traffic (and so, potential customers) will generate more cash when monetized with affiliate offers than via AdSense.
• Virtually any niche you can think of has an affiliate scheme serving it – whilst many niches are excluded or banned in AdSense.
• There are low barriers to entry when it comes to joining an affiliate scheme – most schemes work hard to encourage new affiliates with information and guides on how to become a CPA affiliate (an affiliate who earns money via the cost per action payment model, for achieving a predetermined action on the part of their site’s visitors). However, Google AdWords will only accept certain types of partner sites and content, which places it outside of the reach of many website owners.
Affiliate marketing and Google are closely linked
Affiliate marketing and Google are of course inextricably linked – you can’t effectively promote an affiliate scheme and get it seen by internet users who might want to buy from it without ensuring that it can be found in search results.
You may also want to make use of Google AdWords and/or AdSense to pay for ads and promotions to stream traffic to your affiliate partners and earn commissions – or alternatively, host both AdSense ads and affiliate content within your websites.
However, the more ads and different types of promotions you show on any given website, the lower the chances of each of them generating interest that converts into commission – so tread carefully, and don’t risk compromising your income by showcasing too many different types of ads or promotions at once.
If you want to earn a low level of passive income from a website that is designed to serve another purpose too, AdSense can provide this – if you are accepted as part of their network of content sites.
On the other hand, if you are prepared to do more work and are keen to earn potentially significant streams of revenue – with a high level of control and choice at your disposal – affiliate marketing is better.
Posted by Aleksandra