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  1. #1
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    transactions clicked from search engines
    Hi everyone!
    How do merchants know how your affiliates promote your site in their PPC campaigns?

    I am a merchant and am using SAS to manage our affiliate program. I was checking transaction details the other day and found several transactions are clicked from search engines such as yahoo, bing, mywebsearch and etc. (I assumed these are from our affiliates’ PPC marketing.) I went to these search pages and saw one of text links is our trademark term. For example, YourStore.com. I thought it is our ad. But after I clicked it, the URL changes to SAS and to our website. (It happened very fast. I was not able to see the complete SAS URL.)

    Is the text link possibly created by our affiliates? I am just in this industry for two months and I am confused about learning where our transactions are from.

    Thank you for your comments and ideas in advance!

    Happy New Year!

  2. #2
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Sounds like you have some trademark poaching going on. You can install like Live HTTP Headers in FireFox to capture the affiliate redirect. That would give you the affiliate ID.

    You can use a tool like AdWords Preview Tool which allows you to see ads for different areas. If the affiliate is Geo Targeting them may be only serving ads outside of your area. This is only good for Google ads though.

    Brandverity.com offers a 14 day free trial that will show you exactly what affiliates are doing. You set your merchant domain as the URL and your trademark and other top keywords. It takes a few days to capture the data but will give you all the engines including contextual ads.

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  4. #3
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    Thanks, Chuck! There are some pages which even only have our text link ads and no other PPC links. I have no idea where the transactions came from.

    I will definitely try these programs/tools you mentioned.

    Happy new year to you, Chuck!

  5. #4
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Yenning, your first step is to ensure that your TOS CLEARLY outlines your PPC guidelines. If you wish to restrict bidding on specific trademarks or keywords those should be outlined in your TOS along with the penalties for violations. If you already have PPC guidelines in place then you're good to go.

    However, if these steps haven't been taken, you do not have trademark poachers; your affiliates are well within their rights to bid whatever terms that they want. Once you're sure that you have all of the correct rules in place and that affiliates have been notified of any change in terms (if necessary) then you can begin your search and destroy mission.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

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  7. #5
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Let me ask you, yenning, why do you object to this happening? Do you not like the sales your affiliates are bringing you? Would you rather your competitors use "your" keywords, and direct those customers and those sales to their own sites?

    I have raised these issues before and still have never heard a legitimate reason for what has unfortunately become such a widespread practice of restricting affiliates' marketing activities and so often goes beyond restricting terms in which the merchant might actually have an actual ownership interest.
    Last edited by Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound; December 31st, 2011 at 02:43 AM. Reason: typo
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

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  9. #6
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    Not sure if it answers/helps, but if you know the original URL in question, you can always use a site like longurl.org. It will keep track of all the redirects and when it gives you the end result URL, you can click on show details and it will show you all the URLs it passed through. just a bit easier than weeding through liveheaders.

    as to why merchants don't generally allow trademark bidding, I imagine that at the most rudimentary level, it drives up PPC advertising costs for their own campaigns.

  10. #7
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    Thank you all for the replies!

    @rematt. Yes, we just updated our trademark and keyword bidding policy on SAS a month ago. And we assumed our affiliates all got an email sent from SAS system automatically.

    @AffiliateHound. Of course we are glad that our affiliates bring us sales! We were going through our transaction details in order to learn more about where our sales come from (we think this research will help us run our program better), and we found out unintentionally that there are several transactions which we don’t really understand how they worked.

    As bradk mentioned, we have our trademark and keyword bidding policy set up because our PPC cost will go up if our affiliates run their own PPC campaigns. I know it does not sound good to affiliates, but we really need to control our expenses.

    @bradk. Thanks for the resource. The original URL means the URL we have under the transaction details? For example, http://search.yahoo.com/search;XXXXXXXXXX?

    Thank you again, guys!

    --Yen-Ning

  11. #8
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yenning View Post
    ...our PPC cost will go up if our affiliates run their own PPC campaigns. I know it does not sound good to affiliates, but we really need to control our expenses.
    Another untrue and baseless rationalization for a detrimental, prejudicial, and destructive policy. All you have to do is say affiliates cannot bid more than $x.xx (a few cents below your bids) on certain keywords and your costs remain the same.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  12. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by yenning;1109758
    @bradk. Thanks for the resource. The original URL means the URL we have under the transaction details? For example, [url
    http://search.yahoo.com/search;XXXXXXXXXX?[/url]
    the URL that's being advertised in adwords/adsense or whatever. the one you clicked on thinking it went to your site, but went through SAS first instead.

    That way you can clearly see the URL being sent to SAS.

  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffiliateHound View Post
    All you have to do is say affiliates cannot bid more than $x.xx (a few cents below your bids) on certain keywords and your costs remain the same.
    Thanks for the tip, AffiliateHound! I understand this policy does not benefit our affiliates. And it is "detrimental, prejudicial, and destructive" to you. I've passed this message on to my team members and we are discussing about this. I think it is why this forum is so helpful to a newbie like me. I learn different ideas from both affiliates and merchants. Our program is not perfect but we are working on it. I really appreciate your inputs.

    @bradk. Thank you! I tried longurl.org and Live HTTP Headers (the firefox add-on chuck mentioned). And I found all the redirects. Very helpful! Thanks, guys!

  14. #11
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yenning View Post
    Thanks for the tip, AffiliateHound! I understand this policy does not benefit our affiliates. And it is "detrimental, prejudicial, and destructive" to you. I've passed this message on to my team members and we are discussing about this. I think it is why this forum is so helpful to a newbie like me. I learn different ideas from both affiliates and merchants. Our program is not perfect but we are working on it. I really appreciate your inputs.
    I appreciate your open mind on this issue. I wish more merchants had this attitude.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  15. #12
    E-Commerce Manager darrenz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffiliateHound View Post
    why do you object to this happening? Do you not like the sales your affiliates are bringing you? Would you rather your competitors use "your" keywords, and direct those customers and those sales to their own sites?
    I agree, in many cases merchants should consider allowing affiliates to trademark bid, and I've noticed that often merchants don't allow trademark bidding because they are being advised by their search firm to disallow it. It's job security for the search firm.

    But in reality, many affiliates are more adept with PPC than the search firm, and affiliates could save the merchant a lot in PPC spend.

    That's just my PPC two cents worth.

  16. #13
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I agree but it may be an internal department. When I worked for a large outdoor gear merchant I asked to give two more points of commission to my approved PPC affiliates. I was told that the company would rather spend more on their PPC as they could (in essence) buy the business. I found out years later when the PPC manager was replaced that they only converted on 11% of their ads. Affiliates were converting 4x better, sad that they wasted so many salaries and money on ad spends.

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  18. #14
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    Thank you all for the inputs! We are trying to learn more from other affiliate management companies as well.

    But in reality, many affiliates are more adept with PPC than the search firm, and affiliates could save the merchant a lot in PPC spend.
    Yes, darrenz, this is exactly the point my supervisor and I are discussing about. If our affiliates can do better, letting them run the PPC campaigns without any restrictions would be a win-win situation.

    I found out years later when the PPC manager was replaced that they only converted on 11% of their ads. Affiliates were converting 4x better, sad that they wasted so many salaries and money on ad spends.
    Thank you Chuck for sharing your experience! A great amount of our sales are from our affiliates' PPC. We should dig deep into these transactions and do the math. Maybe we will just find out if the policy is necessary.

    Thanks again!
    Yen-Ning

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