At some point in time, during the growth of an active affiliate program, you will have an affiliate (or several) use PPC advertising to promote your brand. When you do some research online on PPC advertising and affiliates, you will find conflicting opinions based on a) whether you should allow this at all or b) if you decide to allow it – when in your companies lifecycle is the best time to accept it.

I want to dive in deep so that you can have clarity on why affiliates promote this way, how affiliates use PPC to promote your brand, and whether you should consider it.

Why Affiliates Promote using PPC.

PPC Affiliate Advertising

Pay Per Click Advertising, or PPC advertising, is a low-barrier-to-entry way for affiliates to promote your brand. Essentially they are looking at Commission Arbitrage; Given the customer acquisition cost (Aka, in this example, how much they will spend in ads to promote your brand), can they deliver a customer and get a return (in the form of commissions from your company) that is higher than their breakeven cost? If the answer is yes and they can scale it – it’s a straightforward way to make money.

Here are some other reasons why an affiliate might promote using PCC:

  • Perhaps the merchant they are promoting is doing zero PPC advertising.
  • The merchant is doing advertising but missing some valuable long-tail keywords they can capitalize on.
  • The affiliate sees an opportunity in trademark + keyword options.

How Affiliates Promote on Google Adwords, Bing, or other ad networks.

Now that we have an understanding on the motivations behind WHY an affiliate would do this, let’s look at some basic strategies on HOW they do it.

Branded/Trademarked Terms:

This would be your registered trademarks (company name®™). Affiliates bid directly on these terms on Ad networks and use the destination URL (or ad URL) as their affiliate link. This usually happens against or in place of a merchant that currently has PPC managed already internally or not.

Branded/Trademarked Term + Keyword:

Perhaps an affiliate noticed there is a brand they want to promote where a lot of people are searching “Branded Term + Discount”. They might run ads to capture (especially if they have a coupon or promo code) people looking for discounts prior to checkout.

Non-Branded/Industry Terms:

This is when affiliate is bidding on terms in your industry and directing people to their affiliate link (that goes to your website). For instance, if you are a VPN service – an affiliate might bid on “VPN Service, Torrent, IP masking” as a way to deliver ads to prospects searching these terms on google.

Should you Allow Affiliates to Bid on PPC?

Given what I have seen as typically low performance by PPC affiliates and risk to the merchant from a branding perspective, It’s often times not a best practice to allow PPC advertising in your affiliate program.

The only exception is really around: Wether or not you are currently doing PPC advertising for your company. In certain cases, if you have no expertise in-house and not looking to hire a dedicated employee or agency – working with an affiliate to do this (in return for a commission) is a cost effective solution. However, I would preface: you really need to vet this affiliate and build a close partnership with this person to keep branding and goals on point. Without it, their might be some negative branding implications as well as if you are paying the affiliate too high of a commission for the amount of customers you receive from it.

Is there anything you can do to prevent them promoting on PPC if you don’t allow it?

Scott Webb

There is no way to stop affiliates from running the ads outright, however there are ways you can monitor, notify affiliates and networks of ads that are running.

First though, You need to ensure Your affiliate terms and conditions have appropriate language against PPC advertising. If you don’t have it in your current terms, add it and notify all affiliates of changes.

Then, you can use a tool/platform like BrandVerity to monitor PPC activity. Brand Verity allows you to:

  • Setup email reports of PPC activity based on the terms and locations you specify (like the ones mentioned earlier in this post). 
  • Allow you to see, exactly, what affiliate ID is bidding on what terms for what geographic location.
  • Submit trademark infringements directly to search engines for takedown.
  •  Monitor coupons, social media and other outlets.

If there is any doubt that your affiliate program has PPC affiliates and after runnig through these steps – you still are worried, just contact us today for an audit and strategy session.

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Taylor is the Founder of The Up Foundry. 7+ years starting, managing and growing affiliate programs for Technology, subscription, and SaaS-based companies, Taylor works with clients all over the world to generate millions in sales and revenue from their affiliate programs each year.

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