This post was written by James Pancamo.
Affiliate marketing works by companies contracting with an influential site or person that agrees to promote the company’s products or services. When a product is sold on the company site through the affiliate’s link, the affiliate receives a portion of the sale as commission.
In most cases this arrangement is win-win for both parties. The company gains more sales and the affiliate gains more revenue. Sounds simple right?
Sometimes though, affiliates use dishonest techniques gaining them more revenue, but resulting in big losses for the company. You may have heard the horror stories of affiliate theft like outlined in this article by Forbes.
Some affiliate theft practices include:
- Using stolen data for lead generation or stolen credit cards to generate sales.
- Typosquatting, or URL hijacking domains that are near those of the company’s name or products to pick up a referral from the redirect.
- Getting people to download adware or spyware that inserts affiliate code automatically.
- Cloning other affiliate site’s content to steal away traffic.
- Buying Google AdWords on the search terms where a company or its products are already ranked.
- Cookie stuffing all visitors to a website to profit if a visitor buys something later for unrelated reasons.
Although these practices are usually (by design) unseen or unfelt by the customer, they are costing the company big bucks and possibly hurting their online reputation.
The Search Monitor takes affiliate and partner monitoring very seriously. In fact, it is a main pillar of our business!
Today we are looking at 5 rules you can put into place to improve your affiliate program:
- Display URL rules. Don’t allow your special affiliates to use your top-level domain as the display URL. For this strategy to work, you want your affiliates to each have separate URLs so that multiple affiliate ads will display in the sponsored listings simultaneously.
- Ad copy restrictions. Do define ad copy restrictions and perhaps even supply the ad copy so that your special affiliate team will not be showing ads that contradict yours or other affiliate ads.
This includes offers and claims. For example, you cannot have multiple affiliates claiming to be the “official” web site.
- Ranking restrictions. Don’t allow your special affiliates to outrank you on your brand terms.
You want to maintain the highest position and you are using your special affiliates to prop
you up. Therefore the affiliates will need to watch their CPC and page position.
- Keyword restrictions. Do allow your special affiliates to advertise on your brand terms. Do
not allow your regular affiliates to advertise on your brand terms.
- Landing page links. Do require that all of your special affiliates have their own unique landing pages
which link to you. You may want to consider building these landing pages for them and/or supplying the appropriate content.
Monitoring affiliates and partners can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be! The Search Monitor allows you to monitor your affiliates, notifies you of any violations, and reports violations to search engines automatically. We have written an in depth 24 page guide to monitoring affiliates, free to download here.
Interested in developing an air tight affiliate monitoring strategy? Let’s talk.