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  1. #1
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Open Source the PPC Policy Creation
    I've had a ton of suggestions re: PPC policy (thank you all!)

    One of the things that we will be doing is providing a list of things that a Merchant should and must consider when generating a "good" PPC policy. For example, some Merchants consider things like their "domain name", or "TM", but don't consider that same word in conjunction with another term such as "special" or "vs. a competitor" ...

    So - I am here offering and asking for a collaborative effort to generate a template/wishlist/helpsheet for Merchants who want to generate a policy.

    This list shouldn't really be about advice one way or the other regarding specific policy, but instead should be a list of things that a Merchant must list - one way or the other. In other words, things they need to consider.

    I'll leave it as a blank slate for now - anyone who wants to join in feel free. As it develops, I'll post it below and we can hopefully all come up with something collaborative, complete, and practical.

    Proposed Guidelines:

    (June 19th Blank Slate to start)


    (June 20th) Edition. (Big thank you to all who helped especially Chris with the great outline!!! Keep them coming - if we build this together it will be way more comprehensive than I can do by myself.)

    (June 25th) Edition. (Big thank you to all who helped especially Chris with the great outline!!! Keep them coming - if we build this together it will be way more comprehensive than I can do by myself.)


    The guidelines will in parallel list a topic needed for consideration, as well as a number of general questions that may help a merchant make a decision as to which way to go.


    1. Just Trademark / Domains or also Product names and catch phrases
      A list of words is necessary - which keywords are disallowed. For example, if the domain is example.org, the keyword "example.org" could be restricted as well as "example", etc... Product names, service marks, catch phrases. Variations and misspellings are a critical consideration.

      Thing to consider here include the strength of the brand name in general. Is the TM or term strong or weak. Are there competitors bidding on the name - and if so can affiliates assist in pushing down the competition. Are the terms generic - such as a domain that is two common words.
    2. Misspellings and Alternate Spellings


    3. Plurals / variants (color / size / adjectives etc)

      Consider the combination of a restricted word with a common word. Such as a search phrase of "example.com reviews" or similar.

    4. Direct to Merchant or Landing pages

      With all of the above, consider whether or not to allow either 1) Direct-To-Merchant PPC 2) or traffic only directed at an affiliate site first.

    5. Which search engines. ?

      Not all search engines are created equal. There are some that have connections to adware distribution and may need exclusion. Unfortunately, providing a list here is tricky. I don't want to look like I'm recommending that Merchants not use certain search engines.
    6. Local Geo Targeting as well as International

      Is Geo Targeting allowed, if so - are there any restrictions.

    7. Allowed copy / marketing pitch / Representation

      Does an affiliate need to identify themselves as an "affiliate" in the marketing copy of a paid search ad. Are there any restrictions on the copy or pitch used in the ad. Is the affiliate allowed to use the trademark in the ad copy? Is the trademark/domain allowed in any part of the display URL?
    8. Language varients, especially Spanish for the US market.

    9. Max Bid / Don't out bid requirements

      These can be complicated as "bid amount" is not the only factor in determining search position. If this restriction exists, a Merchant should list their bid amounts so that affiliates can remain in compliance.
    10. Competitor Trademarks, Domains, Product names and catch phrases
      Can affiliates bid on the trademarks and domains of competitors.
    11. Negatives

      A solid discussion on negatives is probably needed here....

    12. Contact information

      Consider listing a specific email address for questions on the PPC policy, as well as where to send information should a violation be discovered.


    Last edited by Brian - ShareASale; June 25th, 2008 at 04:01 PM. Reason: June 20th Edit

  2. #2
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    3 things that always jump out at me, especially since historically I've worked with "smaller" merchants.

    1.) The value of their TM to begin with. Is it well known enough that your competitors are bidding on it effectively? Can your affiliates help push your competition down?

    2.) What's in a name? If your trademarked names contain nothing but real words (i.e. fishingkayaks dot com) are you hurting your affiliates by not letting them bid those words? Perhaps look at ONLY disallowing .com bids.

    3.) Is it trademarked to begin with? Be careful in stating 'Restricted keywords' as opposed to 'trademark bidding'. There's a difference.
    Kevin Webster
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  3. #3
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    not a merchant, but wanted to toss a few out there:

    Geotargeting restrictions Y/N (i.e. may only do PPC in/out of certain countries/states, etc.)

    May not outbid Merchant restriction Y/N

    If PPC not allowed on certain search engines, which is it allowed on? (if any)

    -sfcom


  4. #4
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Hmm. I may have misread your post, since this was confusing I guess:

    This list should really be about advice one way or the other regarding specific policy, but instead should be a list of things that a Merchant must list - one way or the other. In other words, things they need to consider.
    Hope it helps anyhow.
    Kevin Webster
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  5. #5
    Member KirkMcD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfcom
    May not outbid Merchant restriction Y/N
    The problem with this is unless the merchant discloses their bids and their keywords, I'll never know if I am outbidding them.
    I could be bidding less and still show higher since Google and Yahoo take into account a Quality score.

  6. #6
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    list the email of the person who can give clarification to rules.

    list the email of the person who will receive reports of abuse / cheaters.

    give them some guidance on your template regarding non-mainstream ppc engines (most are just adware fronts), so in addition to keyword guidance, they should have clear language that says which engines affs may use to send traffic directly to the merchant. the choices generally are:
    1) no direct to merchant ppc allowed, all affs must have a website they land traffic on.
    2) direct to merchant ppc only is allowed via Google, MSN, Yahoo, Aol and Ask.
    3) direct to merchant ppc allowed through any means.

    #2 is the best choice for most merchants. #1 fits for some. #3 is for ignorant ones who don't understand policing or ad distribution. if you pick #2 for instance, an affiliate can't follow your terms and go buy ads at Media Traffic (Vomba & WhenU adware) or Metrics Direct (Zango adware).

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Hi,

    An template (guidelines doc) needs to consider / present /

    1. Fat finger typos

    2. Straight out Typos

    3. Plurals / variants (color / size / adjectives etc)

    4. Just Trademark / Domains or also Product names and catch phrases

    5. Local Geo Targeting as well as International

    6. Primary engines and/or/vs secondary engines.

    7. Landing pages vs Direct links

    8. Allowed copy / marketing pitch.

    9. Language varients, especially Spanish for the US market.

    10. Max Bid / Don't out bid requirements

    11. Competitor Trademarks, Domains, Product names and catch phrases

    That's my starting 11 for headers in an outline.

    Cheers

    Chris
    Affiliate Marketing by AMWSO. Skype - chrissanderson ::: TEL 1-720-336-1784 ::: www.amwso.net
    Join our affiliate programs :Vaper Empire, Iolo, Art of Tea, or See ALL our Programs here

  8. #8
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Great stuff everyone - i've put a working copy at the top.... We are on our way to creating a great guideline ....
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    My 2 cents on this is that most merchants are far too restrictive on search policies. They clamp down on the vast potential which affiliates can bring to bear in this space, just because they have some kind of in-house program. Usually that in-house program covers just a small tiny fraction of the search terms they'd be appearing on if only they let their affiliates help out. Even worse, it could be run by highly-paid consultants who are much less cost effective than paying affiliates on a commission-basis.

    The only reason I bring this up in this thread is because the original post from Brian looks like a list of all possible restrictions more than anything. I'm personally 100% certain that placing that in the hands of many less-than-informed merchants will just lead to them mindlessly ticking all the boxes and shooting themselves in the foot.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by La_Valette
    The only reason I bring this up in this thread is because the original post from Brian looks like a list of all possible restrictions more than anything. I'm personally 100% certain that placing that in the hands of many less-than-informed merchants will just lead to them mindlessly ticking all the boxes and shooting themselves in the foot.
    I agree.

    Example:#
    Does an affiliate need to identify themselves as an "affiliate" in the marketing copy of a paid search ad. Are there any restrictions on the copy or pitch used in the ad.
    If a merchant decides to include this, I won't promote them. That's it. I don't like the one-hand-tied-behind-my-back approach. Even Google dropped that rule, and they are restrictive enough.

    A solution might be to include common practices or recommendations.

    I am also wondering if PPC Direct to Merchant, and PPC to the affiliate site needs to be completely separate sections.

  11. #11
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    I totally agree with the last two posts. Any merchant who is too restrictive is distancing themselves from affiliates. The expensive consultants who run the PPC programs for the merchant in many cases don't have a clue about PPC the way we affiliates play it. As they have big budgets they throw click money and the ROI is low.

    I like merchants who have an open door policy. Some restrictions are acceptable. The displaying aff policy - forget it. It is so 2004 ish. If large merchants like HP have liberal policies I don't see why the smaller merchants can't. At the end of the day we are helping the merchants make more money. We are on the same side!

  12. #12
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    I like merchants who have an open door policy. Some restrictions are acceptable. The displaying aff policy - forget it. It is so 2004 ish. If large merchants like HP have liberal policies I don't see why the smaller merchants can't. At the end of the day we are helping the merchants make more money. We are on the same side!
    All true, but wouldn't you like to be 100% clear on what a merchant allows before you start, rather than start and then not get paid due to some vage ppc rule the merchant has. The idea here is to build a template that merchants can use to help them define clear PPC requirements / expectations. Sure some will go the whole hog and want a total lock down, others will want bits and pieces, but it will all be very clear for merchants and affiliates right from the start of a campaign

    Cheers

    Chris
    Affiliate Marketing by AMWSO. Skype - chrissanderson ::: TEL 1-720-336-1784 ::: www.amwso.net
    Join our affiliate programs :Vaper Empire, Iolo, Art of Tea, or See ALL our Programs here

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    I would assume/hope that instead of just a simple list of options, each of those options would be explained along with the advantages and disadvantages.

    And perhaps it may be a good idea for Shareasale to provide some common profiles -- i.e., "Open PPC", "Very Restricted PPC", others in between, etc.
    --

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghoti
    I would assume/hope that instead of just a simple list of options, each of those options would be explained along with the advantages and disadvantages.

    And perhaps it may be a good idea for Shareasale to provide some common profiles -- i.e., "Open PPC", "Very Restricted PPC", others in between, etc.
    Or for the totally clueless label the "You do your own PPC", "Let your affiliates do your PPC", "You do some and your affiliates do it to"

    There are lots of merchants that won't understand what "Open PPC" is or "Restrcited PPC" or the advantages/disadvantages of each. Again, this template is mostly for the masses that don't have a dedicated manager or an OPM and that don't post here or anywhere else, but just have a nice program on Shareasale that has no clue what they *should* be doing.

    Not that I am not interested in using this template for my clients, I *am*, but just making sure we realize that it needs to be very clear for the majority of merchants.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that "Open PPC" and "Restricted PPC" would be good names for those profiles. But by having a few common profiles, it would help guide the merchants in making the selections so that they don't just check all of the options or uncheck all of them because they're overwhelmed.
    --

  16. #16
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Templates aren't a bad idea... neither are a list of suggestions to go along with the points to consider.

    My vision for this right now is basically a two-column document.

    On the left can be the things that need to be decided....

    and on the right can be some possible suggestions.

    I changed the thread title to "Open Source" because this is basically what this is and I like that word anyhow. Since I am not a PPC expert or even a PPC affiliate at all I am hoping that it is your suggestions as well as those from OPMs, Merchants, etc... that can form this framework.

    Once we are done - if it is good perhaps there are others that can benefit from it as well such as OPMs who approach clients with advice on these things...

    I agree with those who have said that likely #1 goal of the policy and framework should be to make things very clear.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  17. #17
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    Sounds great Brian. This is the perfect example of how a network can help their merchants out with a confusing and important aspect of their affiliate program. And give managers and OPMs something to discuss with clients, a base to work from, to follow and modify to their own needs.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    You can either include this as part of #6 of your list or make it a separate point.

    Use of trademark / domain in ad copy and display URL
    Is the affiliate allowed to use the trademark in the ad copy? Is the trademark/domain allowed in any part of the display URL?

    (Suppose display URL is xxx.affdomain.com/yyy ... there's at least one merchant that allows the trademarked name to the right of affdomain.com [as yyy] but not to the left of it [as xxx].)
    --

  19. #19
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    Can 4 include an actual list? Or the requirement that it is only allowed on the main 4 and not allowed on secondary engines? Or is there a list somewhere that shows the "engines" that use adware for distribution?
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  20. #20
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    In addition to this, any alternative spellings of the TM/domain in the display URL. I.E. www.somesite.com shown as www.somsite.com, www.somesit.com, or somsite.affsite.com in the display URL or ad copy.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghoti
    You can either include this as part of #6 of your list or make it a separate point.

    Use of trademark / domain in ad copy and display URL
    Is the affiliate allowed to use the trademark in the ad copy? Is the trademark/domain allowed in any part of the display URL?

    (Suppose display URL is xxx.affdomain.com/yyy ... there's at least one merchant that allows the trademarked name to the right of affdomain.com [as yyy] but not to the left of it [as xxx].)
    Last edited by Robert Drumm; June 24th, 2008 at 03:18 PM. Reason: Misspelled a misspelling - Is that possible?

  21. #21
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    I've added the suggestions in...

    At this point I'm a little worried about my open-source plan. These suggestions are great but we don't seem to have a whole lot of people participating in the process. Wondering what the reason might be.... but going to try to drum up some further support for it.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  22. #22
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I'm a little surprised too. Considering how vocal this board is about stuff that's already in place, you'd think more would want input into the formation of this kind of thing.

    But I guess not.
    Kevin Webster
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  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    The list is quite extensive already and you've got at least the major bases well covered, so there's not much more to add. I'm sure there are more people than just the participants in this thread that are looking forward to seeing this in action.
    --

  24. #24
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    The major bases may be covered, but I'm hoping to provide a far more extensive list of things to consider, advice, scenarios, examples, etc...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  25. #25
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    Looks like a good list already, can't think of anything else to add.

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