Keeping Affiliates Off Your Brand Keywords

May 11, 2009

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

Many advertisers partner with affiliates to expand their online reach, since it can be a profitable way of bringing in more revenue/leads/conversions, etc.  While the advertiser pays a commission for conversions, it is up to the affiliate to place the ads and pay for any traffic generating initiatives.

As we all know, the discussion around affiliates bidding on trademarked terms is nothing new, but for a few of my clients, I have noticed a “questionable” practice: affiliates bidding on the advertisers brand keywords, copying our ads word for word, and linking directly to the advertiser’s website.

“Why should I care?”
For most advertisers, their brand keywords are the most inexpensive and highest converting keywords.  When an affiliate bids on your brand keywords with your display URL, they are essentially bumping your ad from the search results page.  Since Google will not serve more than one instance of a Display URL in search results, the entity with the highest bid will win out.  So if the Affiliate has the higher bid, the advertiser will be paying out more in commissions than they would regular click costs.

How can I monitor my affiliates so that this doesn’t happen to me?
In order to see if the brand ad you see is yours or from an affiliate, you have to do a search on your brand keywords.  On the search engine results page (SERP), right-click on the ad and select “properties”.  You should see the entire destination URL of the ad.  If the ad you see is from an affiliate, their tracking tag will be at the end of the URL.

ChannelAdvisor customers using SearchAdvisor can take advantage of the Keyword Monitor tool.  Upload your brand keywords in addition to your top non-brand keywords (up to 250) in the “Keyword Monitor Insert” link on the “Tools” Tab.  When you run the keyword monitor report in the “Reports” tab, it will list which ads are showing on your top keywords, including your brand keywords.  The ad copy and keyword destination URL is displayed for all ads on the SERP.  If you discover an affiliate is bidding on your brand keywords, open up the date range to see how long it has been going on.

Remember, brand keywords are the cheapest keywords with the highest conversion rate and ROI in your account.  Affiliates know how well these keywords convert and how cheap they are to bid on.  Don’t pay dollars for affiliate brand keyword conversions when you can pay pennies by running them yourself.

Written by Dennis Hayes (Dennis.Hayes at channeladvisor dot com)