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  1. #1
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    Sharper Image is banning affiliates from bidding on certain terms in ppc search engines.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>To All Sharper Image Affiliates:

    RE: Search engine policy change.

    The Sharper Image's Master Affiliate Agreement now includes a clause
    (1.g) that reserves for The Sharper Image exclusive rights to advertise
    our trademarked company name within all pay-for-placement and other
    search engines.

    Our Agreement now prohibits you and all other Sharper Image Affiliates
    from purchasing or bidding for placement of any of The Sharper Image's
    trademarked company names (including "The Sharper Image," "Sharper Image"
    and "sharperimage.com"), or for any variations or deliberate misspellings
    thereof, within any search engine.

    While we value your continued efforts to build our mutual business, we
    believe it is in the best interests of The Sharper Image and our
    customers that we maintain exclusive control of our trademarked company
    names within the paid listings area of all search engines.

    If you are currently advertising on any search engines as described
    above, we request that such listings be completely removed no later than
    March 1, 2002.

    If you are not able to comply within this grace period, please contact us
    immediately. Unless other arrangements are made, any affiliate that fails
    to comply with this new policy after March 1, 2002 will be removed from
    our program.

    We appreciate your prompt compliance. You're welcome to call or email us
    with any questions you may have. Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    The Sharper Image Affiliate Team
    affiliates@sharperimage.com
    (415) 445-6273
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I guess they don't like getting outbid on those search terms.

  2. #2
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    Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

  3. #3
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    I bet those search terms converted well too.
    I didn't have any of them, but I bet those that did are going to be pissed.

  4. #4
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    I don't think it's reasonable and here is why.

    When brick and mortar wallmart advertises on TV, they include namebrands in their ads.

    Walmart is a seller of these namebrand items.

    We as affiliates are also sellers of namebrand items and deserve the same right to advertising these items as any other company.

    So for instance if I want to sell microwave ovens at overture I should be able to specifically list for the term (GE Microwave Ovens) I should not be restricted from using GE or General Electric in my listings.

    I believe merchants should have the right to have their affiliates not fool visitors into thinking the affiliate site is the merchant site but this does not relate to keyword bidding.

    They want to have their cake and eat it too.

    [ 02-15-2002: Message edited by: Heyder ]

  5. #5
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    Not that I think the situations are comparable, but Walmart doesn't mention those names unless 1)they have permission to; or 2)the namebrands clunked down some $$ in order to get mentioned. <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>We as affiliates are also sellers of namebrand items and deserve the same right to advertising these items as any other company.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>You think all the brick and mortar stores get the identical deal? Haven't you heard the ads "we can't tell you the names of the designers we carry, but you can get them for 50% off at our store" -- they're not kidding about the "can't" it's contract specific. But large, overpriced department stores mention the designer names all the time... they have permission.

  6. #6
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    I tend to agree with Cedric, after all we are talking about TM's, but... and I know the debate is an old one, but a sale is a sale. Why would any merchant hire a commision salesperson, but not let them sale???
    :confused:

  7. #7
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    If I'm wrong it wouldn't be considered the first time.

    I guess statement was based more on opinion.<IMG src=http://www.abestweb.com/ubb/icons/icon38.gif>

  8. #8
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>or for any variations or deliberate misspellings
    thereof, within any search engine<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    So does this mean "accidental" misspellings are ok to bid on? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  9. #9
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>So does this mean "accidental" misspellings are ok to bid on? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yes your honor I accidentally misspelled Sharper Image 98 times in a row. My apologies. LOL [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  10. #10
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    Anyone who sends any traffic to Sharper Image is a total fool.

    We sent them over 15,000 targeted visitors in Nov and Dec of 2,000 to buy their hot selling scooter...ZERO sales.

    They are CROOKS.

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Packy's Avatar
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    Lol to mispelingz.

    I have to agree about a sale is a sale. They want their site to be the only one listed with their name. They better get a good listing then. Think about it. Why wouldn't they want as many links as posible going to their site. Whether the people go through my site to get there or not. The more affiliates in the engines with their links the better the odds of them selling their stuff. It is like they are competing against us instead of working with us. I personally think it sucks. JMO

  12. #12
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    Sorry to all, I feel like an ass. I promised I wouldn't respond to anything that Fred said directly, but in this particular case - I must.

    Fred, in November, I had 6082 click-thrus to the Sharper Image total from three sites. I had 101 sales totaling a little over $9105.00. In December, I almost doubled that figure. January was off December, but greater than November.

    I will say it again - if you send targeted traffic as opposed to junk traffic, someone will buy. That is purely factual.

    Obstinatedon

  13. #13
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    It all boils down to customer acquistion costs. Sharper Image must feel that by controling the bids with their name and trademark that 1}the cost per click in the search engines will decrease thereby icreasing profit and 2} that by eliminating affiliates from sales derived from clicks generated by the now no-no terms they will be money ahead by not paying out commissions of of those terms.

    At this point, Sharper Image would quite possibly have the ability to get top listings on Overture for as low as 5 cents a click and on other ppc's for as low as a penny.

    The sad thing is that SharperImage is shouting to their affiliates that they are no longer looking for sales but branding instead.

    IMHO,

    Mike

  14. #14
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    Dr Evil said:
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>It all boils down to customer acquistion costs. Sharper Image must feel that by controling the bids with their name and trademark that 1}the cost per click in the search engines will decrease thereby icreasing profit and 2} that by eliminating affiliates from sales derived from clicks generated by the now no-no terms they will be money ahead by not paying out commissions of of those terms. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Bingo! Why should they pay more to advertise than they have to. By eliminating the bids for those terms the price for them will go down.
    They probrably saw the lawsuit filed by Body Solutions and had an idea.

  15. #15
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    Well, I think this letter is in response to the suit filed by Mark Nutritionals against several of the search engines.

    Mark Nutritionals Inc. filed a $440 million dollar trademark misuse and unfair competition lawsuit against four major search engines. Mark Nutritionals Inc. claims that Overture (TM), Altavista(TM), FindWhat(TM), and Kanoodle(TM) misused it's trademarked name via their paid listings programs. Mark is seeking $110 million from each search engine in real and punitive damages.

    Mark Nutritionals alleges that the practice of allowing advertisers to buy their way into the top-ranked results for search queries is a violation of federal and state trademark and unfair competition laws. Under the “pay-for-placement” or keyword placement schemes, companies are allowed to purchase trademarked terms such as “Body Solutions” for the specific purpose of deceiving potential Body Solutions customers who are relying on a given search engine to direct them to the Body Solutions website.

    I think Sharper Image is taking the same position with this letter.

    My experience with Sharper Image has been very good, and I just received a very nice check from December. The check for November was not quite as nice, but nice nevertheless. I use highly targeted pages to highlight their products. This is not a scam. Their site does a good job of converting.
    [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  16. #16
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    I never bid on merchant names.

    But one thing they might not have counted on is that with only one bid on the term 'sharper image', the second listing will be a free Inktomi one.

    Now everyone including other merchants can optimise a page for the term 'sharper image' (and others) and compete for that traffic for free. Let the games begin!

  17. #17
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    Don,

    My traffic to Sharper Image was not incentivized in any manner shape or form.

    The traffic came from a specific ad with spin and all for their scooters and was sent to us by our CJ affiliates.

    I talked to them about the problem and they said it was Linkshare's fault. I talked to Linkshare they said it was Sharper Image's fault.

    Then I come to find out they had a ZERO return cookie and they had screwed up the original link at Snare.

    We sent them even more traffic as we had their banner link on a few pages for over two months - ZERO sales.

    I can see having a only a few sales but not ZERO. Basically they didn't report the sales to Linkshare.

  18. #18
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    Are you talking about Nov & Dec of 2001 or 2000?

    I'm talking about 2000. They have to be better this year than in 2000.

    The problem is they wouldn't and Snare wouldn't do anything to solve the problem.

    The reason I ***** about this all the time is not because some people get lucky and make more sales than others, I understanbd that.

    My complaints are about HOW affiliates are treated and how problems are handled.

    Sharper Image and Snare could care less about
    affiliates.

    They are guys incharge are *******s just like the guys at Enron whose motto is we are going to screw the most people we can possibly get away with and then we will pretend we didn't.

  19. #19
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    ALL,

    A company must protect and defend their TM or it gets diluted into generic nothingness like xerox and aspirin!

    If TOYS "R" US took a stance early to defend the uniqueness of the '"R" US' aspect of their TM their wouldn't be all these Whatever "R" US copycats. That being said, I wholeheartedly support the policy change! and foresee many prudent merchants doing the same!

    Haiko

  20. #20
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>But one thing they might not have counted on is that with only one bid on the term 'sharper image', the second listing will be a free Inktomi one.

    Now everyone including other merchants can optimise a page for the term 'sharper image' (and others) and compete for that traffic for free. Let the games begin!

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yep, that's a great idea, and I am sure that is exactly what will happen.
    Next, they will ban "page optimization" in free search engines. :rolleyes:

  21. #21
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    Although I can understand why a merchant wants control of the page the company name as a search term goes to (you could justify it on asthetic grounds alone) its not right to think a customer is neccessarily being 'deceived' by being taken to the affiliate site instead.

    The customer might get deceived when they get there, or they might not - but their credit card will find what it is looking for in a fashion statistically proven to keep it busy (and this is what God made PPC's for, after all).

    If someone has paid to list 'X' theres a high probability X will be there. I don't see any deception. It all comes down to griping about doorway pages. Can you get the product via the affiliate page? Yes. Can you get to it faster than via the merchants flash intro and Who We Are corporate bollocks? Almost certainly. So deception isn't the issue.

    If I was a merchant I might consider keeping my name for my own exclusive use if I wasn't planning on selling much through it.

    Or if I was concerned about allowing my trademark effectively to 'belong' to someone else because they paid slightly more than me for it. If I did this I'd have a vague feeling it might return to haunt me.

    I've never tried optimizing for a merchants trademark myself - only the names of the brands they sell. I assumed the merchant had permission to use these, and I had permission by proxy.


    I

  22. #22
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    Here is some food for thought...

    Amazon.com is currently paying 24 cents per click for the number one Overture spot. According to Overture's stats for December, there were 884,487 searches performed for the term Amazon.com in December 2001. That means that in just the month of December, Amazon could have paid $212,277 to advertise on Overture.

    Now if the trend continues and Amazon forces their affiliates to pull all of their paid listings under their name, then Amazon will be the only paid advertiser under their trademark. At 5 cents a click, that's only $44,224 for December (about 80% less!!!).

    This practice will self-destruct the whole structure of PPC advertising. The only reason why Overture can successfully attract 884,487 searches for Amazon.com in one month is because they have the revenue and the financial strength to attract the big guns like AOL and Yahoo. However, take 50 to 80% of their revenue out of the picture and they will lose that financial edge. Without the revenue hbehind them, Overture would go back to sending less than 200,000 visitors/month to vendors such as Amazon.com.

    As you can see, the Sharper Image Managers didn't think this through. They are actually committing FINANCIAL SUICIDE. The first lesson in sales is NEVER CUT OFF THE HANDS THAT FEED YOU! BY restricting affiliates from advertising EVERYWHERE and ANYWHERE, merchants such as Sharper Image are cutting off their revenue streams.

    WHAT A STUPID MISTAKE!

  23. #23
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    seaslug44,

    Just a little side note on the topic... why would anyone go to the trouble of going to a search engine and searching for amazon.com when they could just put it in their address bar and go direct to Amazon? Am I missing something here? :confused:

  24. #24
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    Seaslugger,

    Never underestimate the stupidity of a geek or an MBA grad, especially when it comes to
    sales and marketing.

    PPC is dying the death of 1,000 cuts.

    As for Amazon paying 24 cents per click does not mean they had their link clicked on 100%.

    They did probably have to shell out $100k or so for the traffic.

    The real question is did they sell more than the ppc cost? And did it make a profit?

    Maybe on the first part but how you make a profit paying $24 for every hundred visitors to any site unless the average sale is over $500 is beyond me.

    But, just think, if they paid their affiliates 1 cent per click thru and the regular 5% how much more actual traffic they would have gotten. On $100k it's 10,000,000.

    I would bet the farm that 10,000,000 affiliated directed visitors out sells 500,000 ppc visitors any day of the week.

    The real problem is really in the 'perceived expectations' of doing online business.

    People think online business is different for any other type of business. It's not.

    Supermarkets net 1% profit. Major manufacturing firms mostly net around 5%.
    Some service businesses net around 10% or so.
    Major banks earn 1% of assets.

    A 10% net profit margin in the real world is a good business. 15% is a great business.

    E-commerce idiots think they are going to net 40%. For 99.99% it's not going to happen.

    The .01% is Microsoft and a few other similar type players.

    Plus in the world of real business it's not the business that's important it's how much you can make from it in the shortest period of time. Get in make $5 million and pocket it. From then on who cares.

  25. #25
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Just a little side note on the topic... why would anyone go to the trouble of going to a search engine and searching for amazon.com when they could just put it in their address bar and go direct to Amazon? Am I missing something here? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Tribune,

    No offense, but you are indeed missing the "Big Picture". The bulk of Overture's traffic is not coming from visitors to their website. It is through their parternships with Aol, Yahoo, and hundreds of other sites. If you do a search on AOL or Yahoo, Overture's TOP THREE bidded search terms will be given to you in your search results. They give them fancy titles like "premium listings".

    The average internet user has little to no computer skills. As dumb as it sounds, people normally type url's/domain names into search boxes instead of right into their browser's address bar. If you visit Overture's search term tool and type in common domain names, you will see how many thousands of times people made this stupid mistake in a month.

    Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool

    Here are just a few examples from December 2001;

    amazon.com- 884,487
    yahoo.com- 3,685,432
    aol.com- 1,499,155
    priceline.com- 194,170
    sharperimage.com- 14,143
    msn.com- 993,342
    bestbuy.com- 238,042

    Professor -good points. Affiliate marking is indeed the way to go. It's the equivalent of General Electric selling their consumer products in every size and shape store from Sears to the smallest discount outlet as opposed to GE trying to sell their products excusively in their own stores/website/toll-free number. It is obvious that the more distributors you have, the more you will sell (and with high profit margins). As I stated in a previous post;

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>The first lesson in sales is NEVER CUT OFF THE HANDS THAT FEED YOU! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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