There are many different ways your affiliate partners can promote you, your products and your promotions to your ideal audience. Today we are going to talk about bidding on your trademarks in the search engines, well in Google really. That’s how far I go back, we had more than one search engine to worry about back in the day. But now, there is pretty much just the Big G.
You see, you have trademarks. Think – your brand, the brands you sell, your company name, your website url etc. And Google has tons of your ideal customers. If you’ve been around for a while, many of those customers already know who you are and go to Google to begin their research or shopping journey. Often, they use those trademarks to find you and your products.
But customers don’t stop there. Fickle and funny creatures they can be. They will augment their queries with additional terms. Things like “brand name coupon” or “brand name discount” or even “brand name reviews”. We call these things Trademark Plus bidding, the plus being an additional term to your brand name.
And, if you aren’t watching this area of the digital landscape, you need to right away. There are really two reasons to monitor and engage your efforts in this area, the first is protection and the second is optimization.
Let’s talk about protection. Often times the search results pages (SERPS) are the most common or first interaction your customers have with your brand. What shows up in that SERPs for your brand can be the lens through which they see your company and its products. You want to be monitoring and controlling what is going on here to make sure you control the story. You also most likely are engaged in SEM (or PPC bidding as it used to be called) to some degree. Not monitoring who, what and the how’s of what is going on in here can increase the cost of your own campaigns or make them invisible completely.
Optimization is also key. Think of the SERP as a painting showcasing all the important features and benefits of your brand. But alas, you can only have one paid listing yourself. So how do you paint more of the picture for your customer? Trademark bidding!
In this guide we are going to show you who works with affiliates to augment their search exposure, how to decided on your rules for your affiliate partners, different reasons to allow trademark bidding and the overall ins and outs of this tactic.
Who can Bid on My Trademark?
If you don’t have a policy in place, pretty much anyone. The best way to control who can bid on your trademark and how they can do that is through your affiliate program terms and conditions document. Yes, that document that you fear no one reads, and you are most of the time correct. But that is where you start. You set out your policy, the rules, and the penalties in your T&Cs and then follow that up with regular monitoring and enforcement.
Many different types of advertisers engage in this partnership with their affiliates. If you are:
- Aggressively targeting new customer acquisition
- Growth focused
- Concerned about how your brand is being perceived by your customers
- Want to control the costs of acquisition across all channels, and …
- Want to control as much of the narrative about your brand as possible
Then you want to engage in this tactic.
How do I Set the Right Rules for Advertisers?
This is the area that makes or breaks the success of an affiliate trademark bidding strategy. Here are a few things to consider when you are creating your rules:
- Who is currently bidding on your trademarks and trademark plus terms
- How active is your own SEM
- What budget is your current SEM campaigns under
- Are there times of the day or of the week/month where your budget typically runs out
- Are there terms or groups of keyword terms that your team hasn’t been able to convert and maintain profitability
- Are there products or areas of your website that you haven’t found profitability through SEM
- How cooperative is your SEM team and how open are they to work with another channel to achieve a higher overall revenue stream and lower overall costs
Once you have those things outlined, you need to take each of them into account in determining your rules. Here are some examples of rules we have used in the past:
- Absolutely no trademark bidding allowed, no trademark plus, nothing
- Bidding on trademark plus only, no trademarks
- Close all SEM to affiliates in the terms and conditions and then work with only one or two hand selected SEM affiliates to construct the right terms of engagement and go forward with them only
- Limit trademark and trademark plus bidding to after 5pm or after Friday evening when our corporate SEM budget typically is empty for the day/week
- Limit bidding to certain products
- Outline the exact keywords that affiliates can bid on
- Outline the exact bid prices your selected affiliates can bid on
- Bidding is allowed as long as they use the provided ad copy
You see, you can be as creative as you can imagine and as you need to be. We highly recommend working with one or two partners who have been down this road or contact us to get another point of view on your rules.
5 Reasons to Allow Trademark Bidding by Affiliates
The reasons to allow trademark bidding, come down to 5 basic things:
- Protect your brand (keep traffic going directly to your site)
- Better coverage of your keywords
- Third party validation of discounts
- Increased exposure on affiliate sites
- Increased conversion rate
And I’ll add one more – increase the power of your budget. Many times, well, almost always, your SEM budget is finite. At some point it runs out. Affiliates can augment that, effectively making your budget unlimited and controlling your costs. Don’t allow fixed budgets to keep you from your most important keywords and from losing control of your brand messaging.
Affiliate Marketing TM Bidding Takeaways
- Trademark bidding allows you to extend your budgets
- Trademark bidding allows you to control the narrative about your brand
- Trademark bidding helps you control your costs while increasing brand visibility
- Trademark bidding should be engaged to protect your brand