Dear X –
Can I promote an affiliate link using Google Adwords? I’ve heard they don’t like affiliates.
Yes, you can promote products as an affiliate using Adwords.
Yes, you can use your affiliate link (direct link).
However, I would never recommend (at this point in time) direct linking. Instead direct traffic to your own site – a site that you control and can make changes to in the event Google doesn’t like something.
If you look through the suspension issues people have you will see that one of the most common is sending traffic to a landing page in violation of Google terms and Google will not put your account back in good standing until you fix the site/page. If you don’t own the site that’s a problem!
Affiliates need to very carefully consider and craft a strategy that offers legitimate value. The vast majority of information on the subject teaches affiliates to produce lazy crap. This will only get you into trouble and has lead to the widespread belief Google hates affiliates.
The issue with multiple affiliates promoting the same product is solved and resolved when you offer something unique. Yes, it is an issue and only one advertiser will have their ad shown when many want to point to the same URL (see Google’s single URL rule).
If you do the math you will either lose to the merchant who will usually make more money overall and thus be able to outbid you, or you will compete against other affiliates and the affiliate willing to bid the most (and take the least profit) will win.
Basically, just send all traffic to your own site and you’ll do better.