This guest post will discuss the topic of brand bidding – that is allowing Affiliate ads to appear against your own brand in the search engines.
It goes without saying that no online marketing effort should be considered in isolation. And the beauty of online is the fact that most traffic generation can be tracked, right from the source and cost of an ad, to the end result of buying. Meaning marketing spend can be allocated to a revenue stream, and therefore easy to work out the achieved return on investment.
Sounds a little too good to be true doesn’t it? And of course in fact it’s not always as simple as that for a typical online business, with a number of marketing channels and an inevitable multi touch point journey from initial ad to final conversion.
Search is typically a key feature in most online marketing plans, and usually is seen to be a high ROI driver partly because a search ad is often the last touch point of a visitor before visiting a site and converting, but also because of the high number of customers starting with Google to find the products and brands they want. But tracking search, and its part in the conversion process is important to gaining a clearer understanding of how other channels are interacting and effecting search traffic. And ensuring affiliate marketing activities are featured in this tracking is too often forgotten – simply because of the different way spend is attributed. For affiliates, because of the performance based approach, often the reduced risk this brings to marketers gives them comfort in leaving the channel to return and track on its own, when perhaps they are paying an affiliate for a sale they actually could have generated themselves through brand search.
Brand bidding (ie bidding in search to appear against your own brand term) is a perfectly strong strategy for ensuring maximum coverage on the SERPs, and it often can be proven to achieve incremental sales above those gained only through having high organic brand positions. But giving away your brand term to allow affiliates to engage in brand bidding is potentially a risky and wasteful strategy. Brand CPC’s are usually low, and if you have other marketing activities that are driving people to search for you in Google, you might simply be driving customers to click on a PPC brand affiliate link.
You may be prepared to allow your trusted affiliates to commence brand bidding, to help them afford to gain additional sales through the long tail which may cost them more. But if you do this, make sure you are keeping a view of the full purchase journey, and attributing your sales across your ad touch points to fully understand the distribution of your ad spend, including any commissions paid to affiliates.
Paul Reynolds is Director of Insight & Analytics at digitalbox – an online performance marketing company, specialising in LeadGen, Email Marketing, SEO and Analytics.
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