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Thread: Should You Allow Affiliates To Bid on Competitor TM's

  1. #1
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Should You Allow Affiliates To Bid on Competitor TM's
    Robert, saw your bump and wanted to ask this question. If you would rather not have it as part of this thread feel free to prune.

    Competitors Terms * May not bid on competitors terms including the following and all possible misspellings not included:
    Why would you want to prohibit your affiliates from bidding on competitors terms if they were offering your brand? Seems like a loss of opportunity?





    **Split from here - http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=107171 - Bob
    Last edited by Robert Drumm; March 4th, 2010 at 10:52 AM.

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager
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    Good question Chuck. Our industry has some very brand sensitive competitors who send us letters on occasion. I would rather spend my time building up the largest contact lens affiliate program than replying to those letters for what would probably amount to very few orders in the grand scheme of things.

    I've worked in several industries and in my experience I don't think affiliates bidding on competitors trademarks add a large enough volume to be worth the hassle.

    I split this off...feel free to change the title if you'd like.


    Bob
    Last edited by Robert Drumm; March 5th, 2010 at 03:03 PM.

  3. #3
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    I'm curious as to how you handle the situation where an affiliate is also an affiliate of your competitors program and and uses PPC to drive traffic to a landing page that features multiple merchants. Assuming that your competitors have no restrictions on the use of their trademarked terms, it would seem to me that you are forcing your affiliates to either change their bids and exclude your competitors or exclude your products from their landing page.

    -rematt
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  4. #4
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    I think it's highly unethical to ride on the coattails of and derive profit from somebody else's established reputation.

    It misleads the consumer.
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  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    I'm curious as to how you handle the situation where an affiliate is also an affiliate of your competitors program and and uses PPC to drive traffic to a landing page that features multiple merchants. Assuming that your competitors have no restrictions on the use of their trademarked terms, it would seem to me that you are forcing your affiliates to either change their bids and exclude your competitors or exclude your products from their landing page.

    -rematt
    The focus of our policy is towards direct linking or directly promoting AC Lens exclusively on a competitors trademarked term. If someone is bidding on the term "some competitor coupon codes" and sending that to a general page with a list of merchants including said competitor, I think at that point, it's the competitors obligation to enforce their own trademark bidding policies.

    Bob

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh
    I think it's highly unethical to ride on the coattails of and derive profit from somebody else's established reputation.

    It misleads the consumer.
    I agree and disagree. Offline you see ads all the time where a company lists competitors and how they beat their prices, service, or whatever it may be.

    Is bidding on a competitorís term any different if your advertisement says, "we have lower prices" or some comparative, and true, statement?

    We don't bid on competition TM terms as a company policy regardless though.

  7. #7
    http and a telephoto
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    I'm with Robert on this one. When I was running the HalloweenMart affiliate program I got a call from a very upset owner because she got a letter that was telling her to stop bidding on another company's name. It was an affiliate and not the company doing the bidding. When it is direct to merchant, or to a landing page at the affiliate site that has no mention and no links to the competitor and the ad makes it look like you are going to the competitor, that caused problems in what is really a small community of merchants.

    We asked the affiliate to stop (they hadn't made any sales using that tactic) and everyone was happy.

    If the ad makes it seem that you are going to the competitor and the shopper ends up somewhere with no links to the competitor, that is a bad shopping experience and lost money for the affiliate that bid on that term.

    In some niches even though companies are competitors, they respect each others businesses and don't encroach by bidding on each other or directly slamming each other.

    In other instances, like big box brands, they may not prohibit the practice because they themselves are cutthroat and bid on each other themselves.

  8. #8
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    I know there have been situations in the past where you had as an example:

    somebody bidding on 1800contacts and then had an ad that made it look like they would go to 1800contacts and instead went to another merchant. That's where you can get into trouble because it's misleading to the consumer and there have been lawsuits over stuff like that.

    I personally don't have a problem with merchants bidding on/using other competitor's marks with ads that aren't misleading because that's done all the time in the offline world and perfectly fine and legal.

  9. #9
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Drumm

    Is bidding on a competitorís term any different if your advertisement says, "we have lower prices" or some comparative, and true, statement?
    Yes it's a lot different. It's more like wrapping a pepsi label around a can of coke. Or putting a facade up in front of a Burger King so that people think they are entering McDonald's.
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  10. #10
    Half a Bubble Off Plumb RemodelingGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh
    Yes it's a lot different. It's more like wrapping a pepsi label around a can of coke. Or putting a facade up in front of a Burger King so that people think they are entering McDonald's.
    LMAO

    Dave,

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  11. #11
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    I think the GEICO/Google case kind of set the tone for this one. Their competitors can and WILL, in the case of the big ones with money, sue AC Lens if they did this. Then Bob would be forced to turn over all kinds of documentation, like lists of affiliates, etc. and it would get real messy real fast.

    davidh's comment actually has legal precedent.

    The example was a local restaurant (call it Karen's Country Cookin') putting up a McDonald's sign at an exit in a desolate part of interstate. People get off the exit and, behold, there is no McDonald's but Karen's is right there. So they go to Karen's. She profits off the millions of dollars McDonald's spend in ads each day and the recognition that the Golden Arches bring to hungry interstate travelers.

    Creating customer brand confusion is illegal as I interpret the law and this would be toeing the line.

    Bob's policy is spot on!

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