This battle has been raging on for years, with Affiliates Marketers not only bidding on companies brand terms, but also hijacking their URLs in PPC Marketing. At the end of the day, it all comes down to revenue and ROI. However, brand terms will always be “KING” in PPC and Affiliates marketers know this and continue to bleed the revenue from the companies themselves. In a recent report from The Search Monitor, an estimated 70% of Affiliate Marketers are bidding brand terms in PPC and it’s becoming an epidemic. In this article, I will highlight the important facts in this report as well as provide some solutions to protect the company’s brand from affiliates.
Troubling Data from the Affiliate Marketing World
- 47% of affiliates bid on trademark terms on all of the major search engine platforms (Google networks, Yahoo, Bing, and Baidu)
- 22% of affiliates perform Direct linking, or as many of know as “URL hijacking,” (THIS IS VERY BAD!)
- Only 30% of affiliate marketers in PPC are actually “keeping it clean” it without trademark bidding or direct linking
Why Protecting Brand terms in PPC is Important:
According to Lori Weiman, CEO of The Search Monitor “Where these affiliates really affect an advertiser’s bottom line is when a consumer clicks on an affiliate’s ad, is cookied with that affiliate’s ID and then later clicks on the advertiser’s ad and converts. The advertiser just paid twice for that conversion because, not only did they pay for the click on their own ad, now they have to pay the affiliate a commission because that affiliate’s ID is tracked to the conversion.”
Ways to Protect Brand Terms from Greedy Affiliate Marketers
The first line of defense is in protecting brand terms is filling out the Google Adwords Trademark Complaint Form. This form will allow Google to investigate the usage of the Trademarked Brand term in Ads and sometimes Keywords. (Please note that Google may investigate the use of trademarks in ad text only or in ad text and keywords depending on the regions in which the advertiser has trademark rights). PPC Marketing Policies for Affiliate Programs: Companies should put a policy in place that will increase the protection of the branded/trademark terms. Here are some examples of Prohibited Actions:
- Display URLs
- Ad Copy Restrictions
- Competitors on Landing Pages
- Secondary Search Engines
- Social Media Sites
When companies accept an Affiliate into the program, they are often already given a “don’t mess with my brand or I will shut you down” stereotype. But that can sometimes backfire and here’s why. Affiliates utilizing PPC marketing can (1) corner the market (push out the competition) (2) if done properly, can reinforce brand reputation. However, based upon this article, it might be better to punish those affiliate “THUGS” because they (1) compete for visibility and most importantly (2) drives up CPC’s.
If a company decides to create an Affiliate Program or looking to improve it, i would highly recommend hiring an agency, at the very least to help guide you though the Discovery and Launch Phases. It’s always a good idea to have a strong relationship with an affiliate manager who has experience with putting in place definitive Policies that make it “crystal clear” to the affiliates what they can and cannot do in the PPC Marketing Channel.