Getting an advantage over the competition is one of the hallmarks of affiliate marketing. Marketers all over the web are trying all kinds of things to get more clicks and interactions with their campaigns.
As you might know, the big affiliates that made it together with their products and brands are very hard to compete against. Beginners have almost no chance to get to their level in some regular time frame. But what if there was a way to use their success against them?
One of the things that are gaining popularity is brand bidding. It gives great results but it’s often not allowed by networks because of specific reasons we will delve in a bit later. But what is brand bidding, how does it work, and why is it so frowned upon by networks and the offers they provide?
What Is Brand Bidding?
If you ever searched for a specific brand online, then you most likely came across links to pages and products that use the same keywords and rank highly on the results page, but are not tied to the brand that you wanted. If you noticed this while searching for things, then you have experienced what brand bidding (also known as trademark bidding) is.
Most affiliates use this to target their own branded keywords and use this as it was intended by the platforms providing the traffic. This in turn rewards them with affordable clicks (since the ads are highly relevant), easy to adjust branding messaging, and blocking competitors from hijacking your keywords.
But not all affiliates are alike. Some try to gain an advantage any way possible, and this is where brand bidding comes into play. The concept behind it is quite simple. Affiliates that have fierce competition, research the competing products that rank higher than they do and then target paid search ads to those branded keywords.
How Effective Is It?
This technique is highly effective for multiple reasons. Those specific keywords imply that the user searching is likely to convert. This means that getting those users to your product page might land you that sale much easier than targeting a completely new user and getting them to convert. This is pretty much the main reason that affiliates and other advertisers even bid on your brand.
This also has a lot of negative effects on your brand!
Depending on what your competitors are doing and how they are advertising your potential customers might experience a bad customer experience that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Those customers won’t know that their bad experience is not caused by you, but they will think so, and that can be quite bad for your reputation.
You will also experience an increase in cost per click for your ads as multiple people bidding for the same keywords will drive the price up for sure. This can also happen because most biddings are done by automated bots that will slowly start competing against each other by bidding more and more.
It will lead to decreased click-through rates on your ads. This is because of the increased competition for the same audience. And that will lead to a large decrease in the traffic coming to your website. Which will affect your bottom line.
Why Is It Not Allowed In A Lot Of Places?
Brand bidding can hurt affiliates and their bottom lines. It is an often shady tactic that causes a lot more harm than good. This causes issues for the owner of those brands and thus causes problems to the network that that advertiser uses. This can even escalate to fraudulent behavior or even purposeful bad experiences to undermine the competition. Pretty much the whole industry agrees that this is not something that affiliates should do, yet some platforms still allow it.
Bidding on your keywords without your permission is bad enough. But some take it a few steps further by including your URLs, effectively removing you from the search engine results. Most advertisers know how bad brand bidding can be, so they usually determine “do not use” and trademarked keywords that are off-limits to third parties.
How Can You Detect Brand Bidding?
Finding if anyone is bidding on your keywords and getting the data on how much this is affecting your campaigns can be very important. You need to make sure you know as much as possible so that you stand a chance fighting it. Luckily there are a couple of tactics that can give you a detailed insight into who is bidding on your brand and how often it happens!
Analytic tools can be incredibly useful for a lot of things related to your campaigns and how well they are running. The more data you have the better, and luckily there are a lot of data sources to tap into if you are doing your affiliate work properly.
Analyze the data you have access to and check for some of the key indicators of brand bidding like:
- Random spikes in traffic from specific partners, competitors, or other sources
- High conversion rates from them
- Blank referrals
- A sudden increase in low-quality leads
- Oher suspicious activities
SEM & SEO Data
If you are doing search engine marketing and search engine optimizations then you probably have a lot of data that you can use to try and detect trademark bidding. Some of the key indicators you should look for are:
- Low CTR on your branded keywords (both paid and organic search)
- High CPC or sudden increase in CPC (this indicates that someone is bidding for the same keywords as you are)
- Low Ad rank on branded keywords
There are a couple of other things you can try as well. One of them is to get tools or agencies to do automated monitoring. These services are usually expensive and are not well suited for everyone, but they are sure to give you detailed results!
Another thing you can try is to manually test your keywords by using some elbow grease! Try searching for your keywords from locations and computers not linked with you. Try searching using different search engines, hours, and terms. If you find something out of the ordinary, you will know for sure that someone is bidding for your KW’s!
What Can You Do Against It?
Depending on your industry and competition there can be a lot of people bidding on your brand. Imagine being a car manufacturer, companies that bid for your brand might not only be competing car companies but also rent-a-car companies that have your vehicles in their fleet or car repair shops that fix your brand of cars. But still, no matter who bids for your brands, it can be a pain in the behind as well as a hole in your pocket, so you should try to do something against it!
- Create A Paid Search Policy
Most affiliate networks and platforms forbid brand bidding and allow you to determine keywords that are trademarked to you and which others cant bid on. This restricting of trademark bidding can be very powerful but also not so helpful at times. The restrictions can be as powerful as completely banning targeting of any branded keywords, ad copies, and ad positions, but in most cases, it is much more relaxed.
- Bid On Your Own Keywords
Sometimes you just can’t beat them, and when that is so, your own choice is to join them! Flood the biddings with your own ensuring that competitors bidding on your brand keywords and trademarks are as unprofitable for them as possible. This will help you protect your position on the search results and promote your brand even further.
- Find The Right Partners
Sometimes people bidding on your keywords might not be that bad if their business is complementary to your own. This is why you should make a list of trusted partners and allow them to engage in paid search within your program. You will ensure that you don’t have any frauds and you can create a beneficial partnership.
Brand bidding is everywhere on the web and avoiding it completely is nigh to impossible. Doing it to your competitors might land you with a couple of cheap conversions and sales, but getting the same thing done to you can lose you a lot of money and cause some issues that you might not have considered before.
Sadly there is no foolproof method of protecting yourself from this, but there are a couple of things you can do that can lower the impact that brand bidding will have on you. There are a lot of tools and services that can help you with these issues, but if you give it enough time and consideration you can solve most of these issues yourself!
Have you ever faced brand bidding? What impact did it have on your business and what did you do to mitigate it? Share your experience with us in the comments below!