5 Considerations When Writing a PPC Policy – By Owen Hewitson

by Colleen on October 26, 2011

The success of working with paid search affiliates is significantly impacted by your PPC policy. Consider these five points when writing or revising your PPC terms and conditions.

1. Direct Linking

Advertisers facing competition on search engine results pages (SERPs) can work with affiliates to cover additional keywords and gain a stronger positioning. By allowing direct linking, affiliates can streamline the sales process to raise conversion rates and EPCs. Alternatively, consider allowing direct linking on specific terms, as many coupon sites convert brand + coupon searches better than the advertiser.

However, as Google and Yahoo only allow one ad per display URL, advertisers risk bidding against affiliates and raising CPCs. As such, advertisers should designate separate keywords for affiliate use.

2. Brand Terms in Ad Title, Text or Display URL

Consider the pros and cons. Consumers looking for your site might be confused by multiple ads displaying your brand. However, additional brand presence reinforces your keyword relevance and distracts from competing ads.

3. Bidding on Brand Terms

A common argument for restricting affiliates is that sales would occur anyway, as brand searches indicate the user wants to visit that site. Paid search on brand rarely yields incremental sales in my experience. Consider giving affiliates brand bidding rights based on SERP competition.

If advertisers run ads and no competitors are present, users find what they searched for without the need for affiliate ads. However, this may not be the case on all search engines and affiliates can plug any gaps. For brands that lack recognition in a competitive market, affiliates can help achieve better coverage or combat competitive bidding.

If an advertiser’s brand is closely associated with a generic keyword, competitor ads are likely to appear in the search results due to broadmatching. In these cases, affiliates could bid on brand + generic terms and use the brand in the ads to improve ranking, click-through rates, relevancy and ultimately lower click costs.

4. Brand Misspellings

Advertisers that forbid brand bidding may also restrict bidding on brand misspellings. For major brands, this is increasingly unnecessary as the search engine will likely recognize and automatically correct a misspelling. For advertisers without a well-known brand, if competitors focus on misspellings, customers may end up purchasing from a competitor.

5. Negative Keywords

Requesting affiliates add negative keywords means that their ads never display when a user searches for that term, even in combination with a generic term. This term is usually the brand, but advertisers should be mindful that asking affiliates to negative match generic keywords when their brand contains these keywords (Ex ‘sports wear’) might be unrealistic.

The verbiage used in PPC Terms and Conditions is also important. Rather than listing all possible terms on which affiliate activity is prohibited, specify that no activity is allowed “on brand or misspellings of brand terms, including but not limited to….” Clarifying that affiliates are not allowed to “appear”, rather than “bid” on negative match terms will make it clear that broadmatching should not be an excuse for infringements.

Owen Hewitson is a Client Strategist at Affiliate Window and buy.at.

Download the entire FeedFront issue 16 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/69193074/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-16

FeedFront issue 16 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2011/10

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