A few years ago, I got an unusual request from Google. The search giant was working on an experimental program that encouraged retailers to feature links to products from other retailers on their websites. I forget the exact economics of the deal, whether Google treated it as an advertising unit or more an affiliate program — all I remember was my reaction.
It seemed insane to send customers away from your website and toward the websites of competitors. After spending countless dollars and energies pulling users onto your page, why would you open up an exit door? Even if the ad unit was lucrative, it still seemed like advertising suicide–or at least, like stupidly shooting yourself in the foot.