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  1. #1
    Newbie
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    February 28th, 2011
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    Question Solutions for Keyword Restrictions?
    Hi there!
    I am a newbie and really appreciate the useful comments and questions on this forum. I searched for my questions, but didn't find anything.

    As I search through many merchants, I notice the keyword and TM restrictions in their rules. I get that they don't want us to compete with their business, that makes sense.

    My frustration and question comes when I am thinking about doing PPC or adding a keyword to my domain that would be searched for. Example: If someone was checking out at bestbuy.com and wanted to see if there was a coupon code and they searched google for "best buy coupon codes"... I could not bid on that term or attempt to rank for it by including it in my domain. That would be a violation of their policy because of trademark, etc. ...

    Do you have any suggestions on a better solution here? Seems like anyone searching for a discount code or deal would likely put the business name in the search box? I don't want to get "creative" and end up breaking rules... I always want to operate in an ethical way.

    Thanks so much for your feedback!

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager affilorama's Avatar
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    July 28th, 2008
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    If you are thinking of PPC then you don't need to make an effort of putting the product name on your domain since you will be paying for paid traffic. No matter what domain name you use, your site's ad will still show up as long as the user has typed in the words that your have bid on.

    In terms of organic search results, very few traffic comes from domains that have the keyword in them. If you want to optimize the domain name just for the purpose of the visitor landing on your site then you can just focus on onpage and offpage optimization by setting the meta data (title, description and keywords) and building backlinks.
    Michelle
    Affilorama Group Ltd
    Affiliate Marketing by Affilorama | Free SEO Software by Traffic Travis

  3. #3
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by jessbeck View Post
    My frustration and question comes when I am thinking about doing PPC or adding a keyword to my domain that would be searched for. Example: If someone was checking out at bestbuy.com and wanted to see if there was a coupon code and they searched google for "best buy coupon codes"... I could not bid on that term or attempt to rank for it by including it in my domain. That would be a violation of their policy because of trademark, etc. ...
    First off, welcome to ABW, and sorry for the slow reply.

    Now for the frustration you express, can we flip it on its head for a second? Imagine the same scenario, but you are Bestbuy. You have someone in the midst of checking out, would you want them to pop off, do a search, find and click through an affiliate link? The affiliate link applies a discount and a commission and a network handling charge, all cutting into your profit.

    You're bestbuy and you know some customers will do a quick coupon search before hitting checkout. It's your own fault for asking for a coupon code, but coupon sales have been big for you on your mailing lists, social media, etc, so they're staying. The only question is what can you do to prevent some of that mid-checkout profit loss?

    Prohibiting affiliate PPC on "bestbuy.com" and "bestbuy.com coupon codes" would be a start. The customer may do the same search, but you're less likely to compound your losses.

    Don't get me wrong, if bestbuy offers coupons, they want them promoted. I would just bet that they put more value in promotional activity before the customer is ready to checkout.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
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    I agree with Eathan that there are two sides to this coin...

    Side 1 - There are affiliates who will argue - and they do have a valid point - that even if the customer has left the checkout process in order to search for a coupon, they are vulnerable to be snapped up by a competitor.

    I've done it... been in the middle of buying something from Site X, went to search for a coupon, found a better deal at Site Y and bought there instead.

    In that way, an affiliate can provide an "assist" to the conversion by offering the coupon code that closes the deal.

    Side 2 - The merchant, who has likely spent a LOT of time, money and effort building that brand name and/or paying to bring that customer in via other channels, is reluctant to pay all of the costs involved in an affiliate sale (commission, network fees, future "cookied" purchases) - especially for a coupon discounted sale - for what might (or might not) be considered an assist.

    The piece that we don't have a solid handle on is how many of those customers would buy anyway, without the coupon from the affiliate... and that is usually what tips the scale towards restricting PPC usage.

    You will notice that some merchants do allow PPC usage, some don't and some have a hybrid model of "you can only do X, Y or Z with our Trademark". Not all of the rules are fair, but it's part of the affiliate model.

    On a side note, as a merchant, one thing that drives me just a little bonkers are affiliates who - without permission and in violation of our terms - hijack our branded paid search ads and display URL and post PPC affiliate campaigns that look like they're our company-sponsored ads.... except they redirect through an affiliate link.

    To me, that offers absolutely no value to the partnership, comes very close to the concept of cookie stuffing, and only serves to scrape the most cost-effective acquisition channel and make money off people who think that are interacting directly with our company.

    It's a personal pet peeve of mine, so - if you join any of our programs - please avoid that tactic... especially since it's strictly forbidden in our program terms.

    Thanks for listening...

    Paul

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    On a side note, as a merchant, one thing that drives me just a little bonkers are affiliates who - without permission and in violation of our terms - hijack our branded paid search ads and display URL and post PPC affiliate campaigns that look like they're our company-sponsored ads.... except they redirect through an affiliate link.

    To me, that offers absolutely no value to the partnership, comes very close to the concept of cookie stuffing, and only serves to scrape the most cost-effective acquisition channel and make money off people who think that are interacting directly with our company.

    It's a personal pet peeve of mine, so - if you join any of our programs - please avoid that tactic... especially since it's strictly forbidden in our program terms.
    As an affiliate who spends time creating unique pages to promote a merchant's products this is a pet peeve of mine as well. If someone who has shopped on my site from the office decides to wait until they are at home to order, I'd like any ads with the merchant's display URL to actually be the merchant so I'm not sending shoppers through a tollbooth. I will never knowingly sign up with a program that permits this practice and back away from them when I see it happening. It shows that they do not understand how PPC works. I have nothing against PPC ads so long as they aren't disguised as the merchants I'm promoting. Some programs prohibit the use of their trademarks for bidding, that doesn't make a lot of sense if they don't prohibit the use of their URL as display URL. If a merchant does not do any PPC advertising they should allow trademark bidding but not the use of the display URL. That's just dumb. It is charging yourself for your own traffic and paying one affiliate for the work of others and your own promotional efforts.
    I am sure that many may disagree, I am only stating my own views on the topic.

  6. #6
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Having a brand new (17 months) merchant program - that started withOUT a known brand, we are taking a different approach. We [currently] have an open PPC policy - and are willing to allow affiliates to help us "build a brand" with their PPC $$. Some of them are earning some commissions in so doing.

    However, we are now becoming somewhat known as a brand and we are (internally) learning more about PPC. One day [very] soon we will readjust that policy and take into consideration Pauls' approach. I do agree with that, but we're not quite ready.

    Let me add a small "disclaimer" to those thoughts. We are using this approach for our personal checks program. The (separate) Business Checks program will, by necessity, remain an "open" (but we will restrict the URL) policy because we are currently marketing that as a "category" (based on the domain name) rather than a "brand." We can't restrict the two terms in our domain - they are generic. While the affiliate channel for the B2B aspect is not nearly as popular as the B2C program, the direct sales portion is far surpassing our expectations.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  7. #7
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jessbeck View Post
    My frustration and question comes when I am thinking about doing PPC or adding a keyword to my domain that would be searched for. Example: If someone was checking out at bestbuy.com and wanted to see if there was a coupon code and they searched google for "best buy coupon codes"... I could not bid on that term or attempt to rank for it by including it in my domain. That would be a violation of their policy because of trademark, etc.
    Add a keyword to your domain is one thing, and having a merchant's name in the URL is often another. Most merchants do not write clear enough descriptions in their TOS - which can be frustrating but also can lead to some interaction with the merchant/AM/OPM which usually is beneficial.

    My biggest frustration IS the lack of a well written Merchant TOS/Policy. In regards to PPC many merchants will say don't use our brand name(s) and specific keywords in your PPC campaigns - but never mention if it is OK to use their name in the display URL. Again, another opportunity to interact with the merchant/AM/OPM.

    Some merchants do not want you using their competitor's brand names - that's understandable, the legalities of that are still up in the air and some merchants are friendly merchants and don't want their competitors doing the same. No problem with that.

    Another frustration are with merchants that add in too many restrictions like prohibiting generic keywords AND no direct to merchant linking. Excuse me, but if I'm not linking directly to you, but to MY website, I will use whatever keywords I want to use in order to drive traffic to my site. That being said, I tend to skip using any PPC for that merchant.

    Like Bill, we have an open PPC policy on our web hosting affiliate program. We do no PPC ourselves on the major ad networks. We prefer the affiliates to go out and spend their money on PPC. It is actually cheaper for us to pay the commission to an affiliate than to compete using PPC (we run an in-house program). We do the same for our turnkey drop ship business as well.

    We actually do very little PPC to market merchants - on the major PPC networks. We do, however, run PPC campaigns on our own ad network, abiding by all the rules/TOS set forth by the merchants. Often a merchant will have strict PPC rules/guilelines, ie: No DTM and no use of display URL - usually contacting the merchant/AM/OPM respectfully requesting exceptions to do PPC on our own ad network and no others gets us about a 75% "you have our permission" response. We also mention that should a merchant advertise on our ad network that we will suspend our ads while the merchant is advertising.

    Yes, there are merchants who even say an affiliate can't rank organically higher than a merchant for specific keywords. I just stay away from them altogether.

    Bottom line, don't bother competing with the merchants. Create your brand, drive traffic to your brand, and you shouldn't have any problems.
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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