Part 2 of 2 - See Working with Paid Search Affiliates: Writing your PPC Policy for Part 1.
Should affiliates add your brand name into their negative keyword list?
Requesting that affiliates add negative keywords to their paid search campaigns will mean that their ads never display when a user searches for that term, even in combination with a generic term. This term is usually the brand, but advertisers should be mindful that asking affiliates to negative match generic keywords when their brand contains these keywords (‘sports shoes’ or ‘low cost holidays’, for example) might be unrealistic.
The phraseology used in PPC T&Cs; can also be important. Rather than listing all possible terms on which affiliate activity is prohibited advertisers may wish to specify that no activity is allowed “on brand or mis-spellings of brand terms, including but not limited to....” Similarly, by specifying that affiliates are not allowed to “appear”, rather than not allowed to “bid” on terms you have asked them to negative match against, will make it clear that broadmatching should not be an excuse for infringements.
Are affiliates able to send traffic from their ads to landing pages before referring traffic to your site?
This is an alternative to the issues raised with direct linking. Advantages include that it allows greater coverage of the search space and could offer free exposure on high traffic sites at no upfront cost. Advertisers can work with affiliates to design bespoke landing sites – rather than single pages – which represent the advertiser well and achieve a good Quality Score through providing relevant, unique content.
Because Google discourages thin sites that offer little extra to the advertiser’s own site, many landing pages will promote other advertisers’ products. Advertisers should therefore be mindful of how well these sites represent their brand, and how suitable the landing page is to the term that was searched on.
Should affiliates be allowed to advertise on brand + generic terms?
Again, advertisers should ask: who is best able to convert traffic relevant to brand + generic search terms at the lowest acquisition cost, the advertiser or the affiliate? Certain brand + generic terms might be highly relevant to an affiliate’s area of business and, as previously mentioned, in some cases the affiliate can rank higher and convert better than the advertiser themselves.
Competitors are likely to share the same generic search terms as an advertiser in brand + generic searches (‘Comet electricals’ or ‘Sky broadband’, for example), so again advertisers should look at their representation in the search space and whether affiliates might be enlisted to help on these terms.
Should you use a ‘closed group’ of affiliates to bid on brand and/or brand-related terms?
A closed group of trusted affiliates with certain rights can be tasked with optimising the paid search landscape. They will need to be managed effectively to ensure that CPCs do not become unaffordable and that affiliates remain in agreed positions in the SERPs, if these have been agreed.
In the interest of fairness to other affiliates advertisers that operate a closed group should note this in their programme description.
Where issues arise
Advertisers should specify a procedure to be followed where breaches of PPC T&Cs; occur. If an affiliate’s ads display for restricted keywords an attempt to contact the affiliate should always be made in the first instance. Where a response is not forthcoming, the advertiser may want to suspend the affiliate from their programme but this will disable any affiliate links so potential customers may not be referred through these ads. An alternative is to inform the affiliate that their commissions have been zeroed until action is taken. This will mean that their ads are still live but no commission is payable on them. Advertisers should bear in mind however that the cookies of other affiliates could still be overwritten by this affiliate.
Advertisers should review their PPC T&Cs; as and when Google or other search engines announce changes in their own policies. Networks can advise on how best to respond to these.