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  1. #1
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    Enforcing Negative Keywords on GENERAL KEYWORDS
    I would like to seek the opinion of this board on this issue that seems to come across now and then.

    Can a merchant really dictate/enforce that there should be -ve keywords of their trademarked terms, if all you are doing is bidding on "GENERAL KEYWORDS" and have no where in the ad or keywords any of the trademarked terms appear. And even the landing page takes the visitor to the home page of your site and not any internal page showing that merchant specific listing. It is clearly and truly an ad that appears due to broad match on "GENERAL KEYWORD" and not due to "TRADEMARKED TERM" though the broad match triggers the ad for search on "<TRADEMARKED TERM> <GENERAL KEYWORD>"

    May be it is easier to entertain a list of -ve keywords from one or two merchants or a few merchants. How do you address this issue if you are working with a number of merchants and the possible -ve keywords crosses the limits of what PPC engines allow?

    Not sure if this issue is already discussed somewhere here. If so, appreciate any pointers to relevant threads

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    The answer to "Can merchants [anything]" is usually "Yes". They can make the demand. You can choose whether or not to work with them.

    Personally, I think it's reasonable for them to require a negative keyword on their trademark.
    Michael Coley
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  3. #3
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    I just put anything I don't want to come up under, as a negative keyword. I haven't bumped up against any limit on the number of negatives I can have yet...

    I try to choose merchants who allow everything, PPC-wise, often just so I don't have to worry about that. But even so, it's strategic to have certain keys as negatives. Most of the different item types I advertise have their own set of dud-click-magnet words which need to be excluded from the campaign (most of which are not TMs).

    Can a merchant really dictate/enforce that there should be -ve keywords of their trademarked terms, if all you are doing is bidding on "GENERAL KEYWORDS" and have no where in the ad or keywords any of the trademarked terms appear.
    Yes, it's enforceable...all they have to do is search under their TM and if you show up, they email.

    They don't know whether or not you intentionally bid, but they do know that if you negative matched, you wouldn't be showing there regardless. So it's pretty easy to enforce from a logistical standpoint, at least it is IF they've got a reasonable-length list of negatives to go through.

    And if their list is UNreasonably long, I'd either avoid that merchant altogether, or just leave the pages promoting them to the vagaries of Google's free algo.

  4. #4
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    The answer to "Can merchants [anything]" is usually "Yes". They can make the demand. You can choose whether or not to work with them.
    I agree! I like to think of it not as a "demand", but a condition of their offer to partner. Yes, I'm just mincing words, because they still demand that partners comply, but knowing up front makes it less "demanding" to me somehow - more like a condition of their offer. So like you said, you simply choose to accept their offer or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Personally, I think it's reasonable for them to require a negative keyword on their trademark.
    I agree it's reasonable, but it's not always smart. I'd say a smarter way (at G anyhow) would be to include it as a negative, exact match, like these examples:
    -[overstock.com]
    -[overstock]

    The reason is that mandating that all affiliates block themselves from ALL search terms containing your trademark / domain names means that the only people left to bid on those terms are your competitors and the affiliates of your competitors (and they will try to snipe you this way). If someone types in overstock.com (as a search term), having a policy that tells affiliates "no" is fine, if the merchant so choses. In this case, the merchant will have the top seo spot and should run their own ppc on that term to occupy the ppc space too. The chance of someone who types in the domain name or company name, then going to a competitor is very, very small. However, if they searched for things like:
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    overstock review
    overstock coupons
    compare overstock and tiger direct
    does overstock.com let you return items
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    Wouldn't the merchant want affiliates to chase this stuff too, even if they've decided to disallow "overstock.com" bidding?

    I think it's much better for the merchant if they just specify which searches they want to disallow. Because each search engine works differently and changes over time, instead of telling affs what to do with their campaigns, tell them what searches they're not permitted to show up on. This also makes any disputes MUCH easier to resolve. Nice and clear for affs to comply as well. So instead of dictating how affs comply technically, I'd say dictating outcomes is easier, plus it leaves the window open for affs to chase down peripheral things like x reviews, coupons for x, etc.

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager cbsturg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    So instead of dictating how affs comply technically, I'd say dictating outcomes is easier, plus it leaves the window open for affs to chase down peripheral things like x reviews, coupons for x, etc.
    I couldn't agree more! The point of affiliate marketing is to get your product in the hands of as many people as you can. So disallow the traffic that's coming to you regardless (YOURBRAND.com), but let everything else be free game (as you mentioned (YOURBRAND vs THEIRBRAND).

    You want to get your message across and reinforced in the minds of the consumers, so let your affiliates do that! Don't be afraid to pay an affiliate his/her commission. After all, the aff is growing your business.

    Once again, Donuts, a quality post.
    Chris Sturgill
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  6. #6
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    Let us take a hypothetical example.

    You are operating a merchant review site. And review over 10,000 merchants on your site. Each merchant on average has 10 negative keywords (some more and some none), meaning there are over 50,000 negative keywords.

    Let us say, you are bidding on keyword - reviews - as a broad match which would trigger your ad for any search for <junjunk> reviews. Here the <junkjunk> could be any of your 10,000 merchant names.

    To comply, you are faced with over 50,000 negative keywords or simply drop your PPC campaigns on broad matched term "reviews" or drop merchants who does not understand what is happening here. No violation of any merchant terms whatsoever. Merchant keywords are not used as keywords in bidding anywhere. Also many PPCs have a limit on number of -ve keywords that can be input in my observation.

    How do you resolve this issue if you do not really want to drop merchants while at the same time continue to bid on broad matched terms, in this example on - reviews.

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager cbsturg's Avatar
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    10,000+ merchants on one campaign? I don't know how that's manageable at all (NOTE: I do not profess to be an expert on PPC). If you're running with that many merchants, you've got to play by that many negative keywords. If you're running into problems of reaching maximum number of negative keywords, just split your project into smaller campaigns until you can get it all taken care of.

    Keep a list of your keywords in an Excel doc (or similar format, I use OpenOffice because I liked the price...) and then export to Google. I don't do any of my actual management inside of Google (too much headache), but do everything in other apps and then make changes to Google (thank you copy and paste...). It's a much easier way to set specific prices for different keywords as well as tracking the success of keywords in ROI.
    Chris Sturgill
    "All my life I've had one dream, to achieve my many goals." - H. Simpson

  8. #8
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    cbsturg - In the example, the bidding is only on one keyword - reviews

    Your site has over 10,000 merchant reviews in the example.

    And you want any visitor searching for any <reviews> to land on your site home page.

  9. #9
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Your hypothetical example has some problems for me:

    1) It's my opinion that 10,000 merchants can't be reviewed by an affiliate site with meaningful content or a cohesive theme. The scenario you describe, because of the sheer numbers involved, sounds like someone leveraging the power of the merchant's names (domain names and/or trademarks) to garner traffic - a site name farm. This is exactly the situation a merchant seeks to avoid when protecting their name - cases where the affiliate adding any real value is at question. If this scenario is anything but the merchants name, say for instance reviewing products from a pool of 10,000 merchants, your "<junkjunk> reviews" term (without quotes) would be something like fishing reel reviews, and you'd be fine with their policies. I'm not accusing your hypothetical example of evil here, I'm just saying it's plan is inconsistent with merchants who want to disallow ppc bidding on their names, so the difficulty of implementing negative keywords is moot - they won't want this site as an affiliate anyhow - not even to occupy the ppc term "merchant.com review".

    2) Using broad match on a term like "reviews" (without the quotes) isn't going to work effectively for a site that's focused on merchants. The term "reviews" applies to too many possible things. In my opinion, to effectively ppc this scenario, you should be using "phrase" match, or better still, [exact] match. With [exact] match, you'll need zero negatives. With phrase match, you'll need very few negatives (compared to broad match).

    So my answer is basically there's nothing in this scenario that you can do to comply with their (I mean plural, lots of merchants restrict tm's) terms, still get traffic from broad match traffic on general keywords, without adding tons of negatives - cuz, as it is, you will sweep up the terms they have disallowed.

    Generally speaking, as an affiliate, you should make herculean efforts to avoid broad match ppc traffic. It's poorly targeted and will have a much lower roi. Most successful affiliate sites have a tight theme and purpose and utility - and they are best matched with well aimed traffic. Broad matching on general terms with, or without, tons of negatives is too shotgun-like, it's for folks that are building brand strength, have merchant margins (not affiliate margins), have the luxury of loss-lead bidding, lifetime / lifecycle roi analysis, startup/vc money to grab market share at a loss, and other such goals where they can afford to blast away.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    Your hypothetical example has some problems for me:

    1) It's my opinion that 10,000 merchants can't be reviewed by an affiliate site with meaningful content or a cohesive theme.
    Assume the site has meaningful content. There are many affiliate sites with good content such as coupons, reviews, etc. with unique and updated content and work with 1000s of merchants. For example, most coupon sites on the net work with 1000s of merchants and list updated coupon codes / promos daily.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    The scenario you describe, because of the sheer numbers involved, sounds like someone leveraging the power of the merchant's names (domain names and/or trademarks) to garner traffic - a site name farm. This is exactly the situation a merchant seeks to avoid when protecting their name - cases where the affiliate adding any real value is at question.
    Assume the affiliate is adding real value and many merchants love to work with this site.


    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    If this scenario is anything but the merchants name, say for instance reviewing products from a pool of 10,000 merchants, your "<junkjunk> reviews" term (without quotes) would be something like fishing reel reviews, and you'd be fine with their policies.

    Yes. It is like fishing reel.
    However, some merchants don't understand how this fishing reel broad match works.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts


    I'm just saying it's plan is inconsistent with merchants who want to disallow ppc bidding on their names, so the difficulty of implementing negative keywords is moot
    That is not the case here.


    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    2) Using broad match on a term like "reviews" (without the quotes) isn't going to work effectively for a site that's focused on merchants. The term "reviews" applies to too many possible things. In my opinion, to effectively ppc this scenario, you should be using "phrase" match, or better still, [exact] match. With [exact] match, you'll need zero negatives. With phrase match, you'll need very few negatives (compared to broad match).
    I agree that it is not an effective way of doing PPC. It is more for brand building and getting a few visitors daily at defined max CPC that one is comfortable paying


    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts

    So my answer is basically there's nothing in this scenario that you can do to comply with their (I mean plural, lots of merchants restrict tm's) terms, still get traffic from broad match traffic on general keywords, without adding tons of negatives - cuz, as it is, you will sweep up the terms they have disallowed.

    I opened this thread to see if any solutions exists other than canning merchants who does not understand or canning the bidding on general keywords (which really upsets me)!



    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    Generally speaking, as an affiliate, you should make herculean efforts to avoid broad match ppc traffic. It's poorly targeted and will have a much lower roi. Most successful affiliate sites have a tight theme and purpose and utility - and they are best matched with well aimed traffic. Broad matching on general terms with, or without, tons of negatives is too shotgun-like, it's for folks that are building brand strength, have merchant margins (not affiliate margins), have the luxury of loss-lead bidding, lifetime / lifecycle roi analysis, startup/vc money to grab market share at a loss, and other such goals where they can afford to blast away.

    I agree. PPC in this case is poorly targeted. You will pay for a lot untargeted and junk traffic. However, I think it is better than random banner ad campaigns which are not targeted at all.

  11. #11
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    would like to discuss it a little more, but am leaving for week long vacation. sorry, no time. c ya.

  12. #12
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    Donuts - I appreciate your responses and willingness to discuss this. Have a great vacation and hopefully this thread is of continued interest when you are back from the break. Thanks

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