Do I allow affiliates to bid on my brand?

by Amy Harrin

That is the big debate. Do I let affiliates bid on my brand, or prohibit them from bidding on trademarked terms and using my display URL?  It is important to note that Google will only show one ad using a particular display URL, so if your affiliate is bidding on the same keyword as you, your own ad will not be shown!  Here are some thoughts on the topic.

The Pros:

  • If you don’t currently have an in-house ppc campaign, affiliates are a great resource to help you expand your footprint and capture market share.
  • Trustworthy firms that specialize in ppc can drive additional sales volume to your program.
  • Often times affiliates will find a niche with long tail keywords that you as a brand would not be using. I have found this to be the case many times with search savvy affiliates.
  • If you are not currently using a particular search engine, for example Bing, consider allowing a couple of “select affiliates” the chance to test. Pay them a lower amount of commission than you would a “regular” content publisher. This tactic will increase your share, and allow you to acquire a new customer with no risk.

The Cons:

  • The affiliate is not doing you a favor by bidding on your brand name. In fact, you are paying a commission to them, and they are driving up the cost for those keywords.
  • As mentioned before. It very important to note that Google will only show one ad using a particular display URL.  If your affiliate is bidding on the same keyword as you, your own ad will not be shown.
  • You have no control of brand image. Who knows what ad copy they are even using?

Whatever your stance, make sure it is communicated clearly to your partners from the get go in your affiliate program policy. This will help eliminate alot of hassle.. believe me I know first-hand.

I use a company called Brand Verity to monitor trademark abuse. They have an awesome platform that pushes info out on a daily basis of what affiliates are bidding on your trademark terms and using your display URL. Often times rogue publishers will mask their information, and so having this tool has literally saved me thousands of dollars in bogus affiliate commissions that I am able to reverse because the affiliate violated the terms of service.

They recently published a white paper that thoroughly explains the shady side of affiliate marketing. Scary stuff.

It covers these common issues:

1) Affiliates bidding on your trademarked terms

2) Forced clicks and cookie stuffing

3) Malware and Adware

4) Typosquatting

5) Incentive Marketing (toolbars and couponware)

6) Prevention and elimination of affiliate abuse

Check out the White Paper below:

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