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Affiliates Forum

PPC Question for merchants
Do you let your affs compete with you?
Michael Anthony

 10:02 am on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Here's an interesting question for any reasonable sizable merchants who allow affiliate bidding on PPC terms...

You're the CEO/owner of an online business that's growing it's sales through aff marketing. You type your company's top selling product name into G and see that in the SERPS, 5 of your affs are outranking your own site. In the Adwords space, the top two sponsored links are both affs, as are the top 3 ads on the right. Your own PPC ads are at no. 4 on the right.

Do you..

a) Walk over to your aff program manager, pat him on the back, give him a bonus and buy him a beer, or..
b) Walk over to your aff program manager, shout at him for allowing your affiliates to outrank you and suggest he gets his act together.

Comments please...



 10:06 am on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

what would a clever merchant rather have:

a, his affiliates bidding against him, and overall still making him and them money.

b, his competitors bidding against him, making him NO money, and them LOTS of mooney.

Michael, sorry for hijacking ur thread mate, but methinks its relevant.



 10:51 am on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

When I ran an aff program, I let my affiliates bid on anything they wanted. Actaully, we stopped using PPC as the affiliates filled up all the slots for us :)


 11:04 am on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

As far as I'm concerned it boils down to control.
Affiliate sites and adwords ads can represent your company in any way they like - not necessarily in line with your carefuly nurtured brand image. But if they are bringing in sales at a better ROI than you can yourself then it is painful to ignore and after all is part of the deal.

If they have found search terms which they can afford to bid higher on than we can then good for them.


 11:29 am on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

There are pros & cons of having affiliates at the top of the SERPS because the main problem with the affiliate websites can be the the DATABASE UPDATION.

As there will b many affiliates who don't bother updating products, prices etc. We got complaints bcoz the prices were not up-to-date on the affiliate websites.It ruins the reputation of the company in long term.

I would not suggest to stop PPC completely even if your affilliates filled all the top spots but what's harm in competing against yr affiliates. It will bring you more business, whereever user will click he will come to you...........


 1:05 pm on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> not necessarily in line with your carefuly nurtured brand image

Brand Image? - i am hearing it from many small/medium merchants (even some in adsense forum!) .Who they think they are , Coca-Cola? :)

The reality is if you are a niche merchant you will be better of pursuing all available direct marketing efforts (PPC , affiliates , adsense etc) with little restrictions and the only creteria being direct ROI ...if some guy is telling you cannot accept some affiliate because his site is spammy looking , fire him!


 1:14 pm on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

By 'carefully nurtured brand image' I mean any work put in at any level to make an ecommerce site seem welcoming, trustworthy and likely to convert;
this work, in the worst case scenario,would indeed be subverted if all available traffic was swallowed up by 'spammy' looking sites that do not.

You don't have to be Coca Cola to understand that


 2:36 pm on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I let affiliates bid on just about anything. I restrict on the Company's name(s) but more in the regards that I want people bidding on our names to have a clue as to what they are doing with our brand.


 5:13 pm on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

<<in line with your carefuly nurtured brand image>>

Seems to work for two of the largest brand on the web, Amazon and ebay....their aff programs are like the wild west :)

Michael Anthony

 5:37 pm on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

"When I ran an aff program, I let my affiliates bid on anything they wanted. Actaully, we stopped using PPC as the affiliates filled up all the slots for us :)"

mfishy, that's precisely the correct attitude IMO, but to this day I'm constantly astounded at the amount of emails I receive along the lines of "please note that whilst we are happy for you to bid on our brand, pleasee restrict your bids to x amount". These are usually sent by the company running the merchants PPC campaign, who are rarely the same people running the aff campaign.

Even more stupid, are the letters doing the rounds in the UK finance sector that read "Dear xyz co., when we last checked Google for our customer's brand name (again these are typically from PPC management companies) we found that your site was top of both the SERPS and Adwords. Please refrain from profiting from our customer's hard earned online reputation or we wil sue you". If you don't pull the ads, you then get a solicitor's letter threatening legal action.

I have been tempted to answer these by writing to the company owner and suggesting that they:-

a) Hire me for their SEO
b) Hire me as an afiliate
c) Fire their PPC company
d) Write to Google, not their lawyers
e) Ask their existing web marketing team how a part timer working from home in his PJ's can beat all their high cost efforts!

However, as I don't need any more income from financial aff programs (not bragging, just that I have enough activity in this area already and like to keep a broad mix of industries running to avoid suffering too much from seasonal peaks and troughs) I just haven't bothered.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has had a similar experience in the US, and if so how it was resolved.


 6:13 pm on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> if all available traffic was swallowed up by 'spammy' looking sites that do not.

If those spammy looking sites all link to you then you get the traffic otherwise you loose it to your competitors :) ...

There is nothing called branding for small merchants in the internet , if you have then typins will be a significant portion of your traffic!


 8:00 am on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm a firm believer in letting affiliates bid whatever they want, and also to allow them to do great SEO. It's better to have 1000 happy paid affiliates, then 10,000 unhappy affiliates who can only bid .01 and aren't allowed to do any quality SEO.

The more happy affiliates you have, the more income you have as a merchant.


 1:12 pm on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well said eljefe3!

Richard Overvold

 5:42 pm on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

When I ran an aff program, I let my affiliates bid on anything they wanted. Actaully, we stopped using PPC as the affiliates filled up all the slots for us

Great example.

For a company to get upset because a publisher outbidded them for their OWN trademarked term would be ridiculous, and it would actually SAVE the merchant company money in advertising costs! Unless they paid outrageous commissions on sales generated by publishers, of course.

Michael Anthony

 8:11 pm on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just realised what a great argument winning tool this thread's gonna be for me in the future - if a merchant emails me a list of rules and regs for PPC bidding, I just reply with a link to here!


 10:25 pm on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sorry, thatdoesn't work. I've been doing some PPC on the side and more than one merchant has asked me to stop. I email them a study about how letting your affiliates bid on your name can be a good thing. Not one has changed their minds.

I even have one company that I found a variation on their name that they don't come up for in the first 3 SERPs that gets as many clicks as the proper spelling. They have no adwords ads on it and they still won't let me advertise.

Another company has no adwords ads but they specifically say you can't link directly to their site (product pages or otherwise) using PPC.

Okay, it's one thing to think your affiliates are competing, but it's a whole other realm of stupid if you aren't doing it and you won't let your affiliates do it.


 12:17 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

One of the most non-sensical things is when the merchants won't let you big on their "in-house" brands, they don't bid on them, and they don't occupy the top SERP spots.

In some cases, Amazon ranks higher on their "in-house" brands and the merchant probably pays Amazon more to sell the item than an affiliate commission + a network fee.

Came across one merchant recently that requires affiliates to negative out the brand and all product names. They also consider anyone who has been cookied prior to the affiliate referral an "existing customer" even if they have never purchased before and pay less 50% of the normal commission on that.

In the programs we manage everything is open to affiliates and we don't even bid on our brand names, just let the affiliates battle it out.

Richard Overvold

 1:11 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm sure this has been covered, but lets say I had an auction site of my own, and I bid on the keyword of "ebay", and brought the user to my own auction site. That, to me, would be the only reason those merchants don't allow this condition.

But of course only a criminal would do such a thing.


 1:33 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

But of course only a criminal would do such a thing.

Oh no, not a criminal... smart. I've been doing that for my company since G announced that they would not enforce trademark.

What we are talking about is a merchant will not let an affiliate buy an ad, that the affiliate pays for, to the merchant's site. Under the proper spelling, misspelling or to a specific product page.

Richard Overvold

 1:47 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

You'd never catch me doing such a thing. ;-)


 2:43 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

You'd never catch me doing such a thing. ;-)

Yeah, I know....

My husband (who is amazed by all the internet stuff) keeps telling me, if it ain't illeagal, it ain't wrong. LOL

Richard Overvold

 2:58 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yeah, that's actually true, and I live by the same rule of thumb. But, generally, if you are doing something to which they will probably come in and tweak the rules so you cannot do it anymore, it may not be worth doing in the long run.


 8:45 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

I can't agree with that comment! I hav made a most of my internet cash from ideas that had a limited lifespan. You must take the opportunities that are available to you now! As long as there are NO legal issues attached!


Michael Anthony

 10:19 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hannamyluv, last time a merchant told me not to bid on their brands, even the mispelllings, I simply called a few of their competitors until I found one without such profit restricting attitudes.

e.g. - If Bob at "Bob's Blue Widgets" stops me bidding on his brands, I'll talk to Pete at "Pete's many coloured widget emporium" to see if he wants the traffic that Bob's got a problem with.

When Bob finds out, he'll no doubt be a tad miffed, but as Pete allows me to bid on anything and I no longer need Bob's money, I'm laughing all the way to the bank!


 9:31 pm on Aug 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Some business people just don't get it, do they?

"No, I won't stop bidding on your trademark. The only question is whether I will direct that traffic to you or your competitor."

Ok, maybe that sounds a tad too threatening... but when some people truly don't understand how stupid they are being, it has to be spelled out.

Richard Overvold

 11:45 pm on Aug 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

And who are you directing this comment at? The person who posted that, or the merchant themselves?


 12:28 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I would target that at the merchant themselves. Sorry if that wasn't clear!

Richard Overvold

 12:36 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sorry, but it could have been taken either way to me.

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