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Direct to Merchant, or not?

The evolution of PPC affiliate marketing

1:58 am on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I am a full time affiliate and have done quite well over the past 4 or 5 years promoting stuff on my own site where I categorize and review various services.

Getting traffic from adwords has been getting difficult. They are not into my affiliate site and my quality scores are dropping.

However, when I advertise direct to the merchant I do much better in terms of getting cheaper ad prices and more traffic. Google loves these ads! (Although of course you have the headaches of multiple affiliates trying to advertise same URL, but let's put that aside for a moment.)

I could have put this in the adwords forum but this question is aimed directly at affiliates. Do most of you advertise direct to merchant or to your affiliate site, or a mixture of both? What is the best method now that 'quality score' is often against us?

I used to push the 'your own site' model all the way, but now I'm not so sure.

Just trying to adapt and evolve here,

1:09 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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For leads I go direct to merchant. For products I do my own sites as I feel my copy will convert better than the merchant's copy.

It has been noted in various forums if you get hit with a quality score penalty, to use another domain and that will solve the high adwords cost problem.

2:53 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Eljefe...Interesting...I do the exact opposite :) I find that most merchant's forms don't convert well at all. Either they've got way too much filler on their page by way of text/images that distract the potential customer...or they've got a phone number pasted on their page in plain sight which takes away leads/sales. In my experience, I can craft a much cleaner and super-charged converting form than the merchant can. To each their own I guess :)

To answer the original poster. I do both depending upon the competition of the program. If there are thousands of affiliates promoting the program, I find I'm better off making my own website and landing pages. If there are only a handful of affiliates pushing said product, then I'll send direct to merchant as it wouldn't be worth my while to spend the time creating a website for them (unless thier website converts terribly, then I might consider it..)

10:24 pm on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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How do you avoid sending keywords info going direct to merchant?
Even using a php redirect the CPA or affiliate network and potentially also the merchant still see the referer header from the Adwords,YSM etc.

Is there a way to redirect sending a new header(page) into the browsers history then redirect to merchant?
Upon click back button this page would have to redirect to PPC/serp page.

2:43 am on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Either way can work well. I've generally found that merchants do NOT mine what you do to try to bump you out. They'll cut payouts with no notice, they'll write endless legal terms and conditions, that scream Don't touch my program with a ten-foot pole so I won't, but the good affiliate programs I've promoted for years in some cases, have never really seemed to pick off the way I send them traffic.
1:14 pm on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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DIrect to merchant can be more effective than a landing page, because it requires one less click. But Google now allows only one ad per merchant so if your merchant is doing AdWords you are out of luck as they can pay more per click. Unless you find some keywords they are not doing. And they may not be happy with affiliates going direct.

If you get hit with the $10 minimum, then it is true, your entire domain may be black listed. You can get a new domain and that will work for a while but Google will catch up to you again and back to the $10 minimum.

So you have to have unique and useful content and even then, Google has put the $10 minimum on some seemingly high quality, unique sites.

The easy days and easy money is over.

Google penalizes affiliates. I believe if you have affiliate code on your page, it's a negative. Unless you are one of the big comparison sites. Or you can score high in unique content.

3:44 pm on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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To say google penalizes affiliates is not really correct.

Google penalizes THIN affiliate sites. If you have unique content, give the user a unique perspective, something extra or whatever, you're not going to get penalized..

5:18 pm on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It seems to have become a privilege to link to merchant sites directly, especially if they have a strong converting brand. With Google's one domain/SERP rule, many merchants are taking the place themselves, or handing it to a select handful of affiliates.

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