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Affiliates: Building Traffic with PPC

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Achieving maximum exposure across the paid search landscape can be an expensive and risky business for some brands, with many unfortunately having first-hand experience of how possible it is to quickly burn through thousands of pounds in click spend on ultimately unprofitable keywords.

With significant Google trademark policy changes taking place over the past two years which allow competitors to both bid on branded search terms and display those terms in their ad text, the problem has been further compounded for brands now facing significant sales leakage to competitor paid search activity.

However, this is a classic case where potential threat can actually be turned into a positive asset when brands adopt a more clearly defined strategy to build traffic with PPC. And this is where affiliates or search specialists, who are paid on performance, can be extremely valuable in supplementing current strategy, protecting a brand from competitors, and ensuring that long tail keywords and any other gaps are effectively plugged.

In fact, if the answer is ‘yes’ to one or more of the following questions, then this would definitely be a valuable option for any brand to consider:
• Am I missing out on reaching some of my potential customers through search?
• Does my search budget limit me? Does it run out?
• Are there key messages I am unable to communicate to my audience?
• Are my competitors continually appearing on my brand and taking my customers away?

In addition to the specialist guidance and knowledge an affiliate or search specialist then brings to the table, the key benefit of utilising affiliates to build PPC traffic is that it can be undertaken at no financial risk, as the affiliate isn’t paid unless a sale is made; a lead is generated; or the customer takes whatever action the brand has specified the affiliate will be rewarded for.

To be fair, some brands may be concerned how this activity can be carried out without impacting their own search campaigns. But with careful preparation and clear guidelines for affiliates, any potential issues can be easily addressed in the planning phase of any brand protection work – key points that need to be considered being:
• Agree a capped CPC rate with affiliates for any brand keyword activity, to ensure your own click prices aren’t inflated
• Work with either a single partner or a small group of affiliates that you have carefully screened and who you know will be responsive to requests or new opportunities
• Give affiliates a specific remit to cover particular products, categories or keyword types so that they won’t be competing against you in any of their activity
• Make sure the rules of play are crystal clear – create a black list of any no-go keywords, outline ad copy restrictions, consider whether you want to restrict affiliates to displaying ads at particular times of the day – and clearly communicate these
• Be mindful that you do need to give your PPC affiliates some profitable activity to work on as well as challenging them to boost lower performing opportunities. A frequently used technique is to enable affiliates to work on some brand or brand + generic search phrases, to enable them to reinvest their commissions into covering generic and long-tail search terms
• Reward your affiliates for great performance – a loyal affiliate will always go the extra mile for you

Here at Found, our brand protection work with Premier Inn won us an a4u Award this year and demonstrates that PPC affiliates are able to supplement a brand’s own paid search activity in innovative ways.

By developing a Google mash-up and route map finder to create http://www.premierinnhotels.co.uk, we provided a new experience for booking Premier Inn accommodation via sophisticated location-based search, added multi-messaging to their campaign, and broadened the reach of their paid search activity.

So with the right strategy, the right partners and together, the right objectives and goals, paid search activity can deliver very important brand protection and incremental sales. However, affiliates also thrive on innovation and fresh thinking, so why not challenge your paid-on-performance PPC partners (or potential partners) to develop some creative ways to drive more traffic and sales for your brand and you might just uncover a very lucrative new income stream along the way!

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