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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
    Join Date
    October 10th, 2007
    direct linking

    My name is Deana and I'm new to the Affiliate Management world. I met Haiko at the Affiliate Summit this year and decided I should start posting.

    I have heard and read different ideas on direct linking (an affiliate linking from an ad campaign like Google Adwords directly to a page on a Merchants site).

    The cons being:
    no control over the ad wording
    trademark bidding
    no control over the quality of traffic they are bringing to the Merchant site

    The pros being:
    drive more traffic on the same keywords the merchant is using
    drive other traffic on keywords the merchant search team is not using
    makes affiliates happy

    What are some other reasons for allowing or not allowing direct linking? Does it matter on what the Merchant is offering--service or product?



  2. #2
    Speechless OTProf's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 4th, 2006
    Sunny SoCal
    Hi Deana --

    Welcome to the AM world!

    On your list of cons, I wouldn't say that direct linking and trademark bidding are necessarily linked -- i.e. an affiliate can direct link based on a generic keyword without using TMs.

    You are right about the wording in ads by and large. Nothing worse than the ads that say "Is [merchant/product] a Scam?". You could try to put together suggestions and requirements to address this.

    As for quality of traffic, I would say that DTM (direct to merchant) linking would typically be well-qualified traffic. Remember, the PPC affiliate has taken the financial risk by spending money to get that customer to you so it is in their best interest to send good traffic to your site.

    On your list of pros, I'm not sure if it would increase traffic based on terms the merchant is using -- unless the merchant's budget does not allow 24/7 coverage. Otherwise, only one ad going to a specific URL (directly or indirectly) will show up at any given time (avoiding what is called "double serving").

    The last two pro issues you mention are valid in my opinion.

    Some other thoughts:

    Merchant pages typically convert better than affiliate landing pages, so why require the extra click? This alone should suffice as a strong enough reason to allow PPC affiliates to drive traffic directly to the merchant.

    Beyond this, there are two additional reasons. One, the merchant has 0% direct control over the content of an affiliate’s landing page and 100% control over their own website (to me this is worse than the ad wording issue!!). Thus, matters of a website’s appearance, style, content (including mundane issues like typos, proper grammar, & spelling as well as more significant issues of accuracy [such as product claims and coupon details] that direct pertain to brand protection) are, to various degrees, uncertain, unknown, and uncontrollable.

    Secondly, Google seems to be increasingly penalizing affiliate landing pages in both natural SERPs and in PPC quality scores, suggesting that the basic landing page route will become an increasingly difficult approach for affiliates in both the SEO and SEM channels.

    Alternatively, DTM could be allowed via affiliate request/individual approval. In addition, since “double serving” rules of ads going to the same (ultimate) destination is frequently the given reason for not allowing DTM PPC, the merchant could also have an expanded prohibited keyword list specifically for those affiliates wanting to do DTM.

    All told, I think there is room to allow DTM bidding by affiliates in most cases that will work well for the merchant.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    February 21st, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I think Google has pretty clearly stated that they are beginning to enforce their long-standing policy that the display url must be the same as the destination url(yours). We're still seeing plenty of examples where this isn't enforced, but I expect that will change over time.

    Google only allows 1 ad per page for each domain, so either your ad shows, or their ad shows - whichever makes Google the most money. So, there is a good chance that this would raise your ppc costs on the terms you are buying and not deliver any additional traffic.

    However, you may not be any good at PPC. The affiliates may be able to find keywords that convert that you haven't figured out.

    In my opinion, the primary driver for this decision is how experienced/capable your PPC manager is. If they aren't, then work with a few affiliates who are. If they are capable, I'm not sure how this would help you.

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