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  1. #1
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Direct or indirect PPC, a question of conversion
    In doing our affiliate agreement I had to address PPC advertising, and for many reasons, including some specific to the industry I'm in, I chose to require affiliates to not link direct from PPC. I know there are a number of sound reasons to go either way, but one I'm really curious about is that of conversion.

    From my own experience as an affiliate, I've seen what I believe to be better conversions via indirect linking over direct on PPC campaigns, but I've only used both on a few merchants and didn't keep stats specifically to compare the two methods.

    I imagine it depends a lot on the merchant in question, how well they sell on the landing page, the popularity of their brand, the type of affiliate site linking, the context of the link and a dozen other things, but it seems possible that indirect converts better. I'm curious if anyone else has run the numbers of both methods on a broader set of merchants.

    I'm thinking that GAP may not need the third party vote of confidence provided by the affiliate site nearly as much as Mel's Mailorder Tire Shack may. Some visitors would drop off at the third party site and never make it to the merchant, but conversion for Mel's following a third party recommendation might increase enough to make up for the drop off and more. Essentially, I'm thinking unknowns could convert better from indirect linking where big brands may not.

    Any thoughts? Is one or the other better all the time, does it depend or are they always about the same?
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  2. #2
    Outsourced Program Manager Rick - Bitcom's Avatar
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    Great question Eathan...unfortunately not an easy answer.

    It probably depends on the merchant and the keyword. My feeling is that the keyword determines what should happen next...where the visitor is in the buying cycle.

    If it is a keyword that shows the visitor is ready to buy then they should probably be taken to the shopping cart as quickly as possible...so why not use a direct link...ideally to a product page.

    If the keyword is more branding or review related...indicating they need more information or that they are not ready to buy...then probably going to an affiliate page would meet the "need" better. The affiliate can create more credibility and trust and provide that "3rd party testimonial" that may be needed at that time.

    The point is...you should always move the visitor forward...not backward in the buying cycle. They keyword will tell you where they are in that cycle.

    Just my opinion with no hard facts to back it up...although it would probably be easy to test with a PPC campaign. Get a good affiliate to work with you and test to find out what works best.

  3. #3
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick - JRami
    My feeling is that the keyword determines what should happen next...where the visitor is in the buying cycle.
    Excellent point!

    That would also seem to require the use of "exact match" options at the engines. Google's broad match is often way too broad to have that sort of control (they've sent some plain silly matches in the past).
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    I think Rick has got the ticket on this one...it all depends on the consumer and the keyword.

    From my experience, the closer you are targeting your ads to the keyword queried, the better results you get from direct linking. In effect you pre-sell users on the text ad and they are ready for what comes next when they click.
    Jason Rosenbaum
    Affiliate Manager
    MINDsprinting

  5. #5
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    I think you guys are spot on. The flexibility to do either or both is pretty important, more so anyway than the reasons I was prohibiting direct - and thus a change to our PPC policy...

    Jason, along the lines of what you are saying, I've found that even if the ads don't pre-sell the product per se, just making it clear that the ad is for a product that is being offered for sale filters info seekers and improves conversion on direct linking. By that same logic, would those filtered info seekers then convert better on ads not so specific to the sale sent indirect?

    Also, to the mods, sorry for posting this in the cafe. I realized too late that it was the wrong board.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    For the info seekers, those customers still gathering information and not ready to buy, I'd say things could go either way.

    For some products, it might be best to link to your site for reviews and writeups or perhaps similar products or groups of products (if the user was searching for widgets as opposed to a particular brand or model of widgets).

    However, if the merchant you are working with provides a lot of information about their products, or has a website with lots of info, it might be better to set your cookie, link directly to them, and hope the customer buys within your return day period.

    I guess it depends on the affiliate site, the customer, and what the merchant site is designed to do. I think most people here would advocate working as closely as possible with your affiliates to create a PPC campaign that works cohesively.
    Jason Rosenbaum
    Affiliate Manager
    MINDsprinting

  7. #7
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    1) Does it bring value if it is indirect? Indirect = additional layer of pages. If it has a value proposition, then go indirect.
    2) Conversion. Where is the conversion happening. Most likely the merchant's website, so let the merchant worry about conversion, etc

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