A person most knowledgeable in terms of brand bidding told us why this kind of traffic is rejected by almost all advertisers and what happens if an affiliate uses brand keywords against the rules.
Brand or trademark bidding is a type of contextual advertising when the advertiser's brand name is included in keywords. For example, if an affiliate writes "buy a laptop in X store”, the resulting lead will be rejected by the affiliate program of X store.
Offer descriptions often state that "Brand bidding is strictly prohibited!". To understand why advertisers scorn branded traffic, we have contacted Valentin Darechkin , a person who knows everything about the matter. Valentin is a product owner at Bluepear , a service that offers protection from brand bidding.
— Hi, Valentin! Please shed some light on why advertisers dislike branded traffic so much.
In this case, advertisers pay to get their own organic traffic. Let's imagine a situation: a user searching for a brand enters the brand name as a keyword and in the search results he gets many ads from affiliates who drive traffic to the same brand. The user is already familiar with the brand and interested in it, however, the advertiser will still have to pay the affiliate for this lead.
— But still, there should be some advertisers who accept this type of traffic?
Yes, there are few advertisers like that. For example, when the target audience is very small and the advertiser is ready to fight for each user to the end. Or when the brand itself cannot advertise due to some reasons and is happy to let affiliates advertise for it on their own.
— What is the approximate share brand traffic that can be delivered by affiliates?
It really depends on the distribution of traffic types within the affiliate program. But if we take PPC alone, the share of branded traffic can reach 70%. Advertisers, be sure to check your traffic flow thoroughly!
There has been a case recently when one of our betting partners shared his statistics with us. In the course of one month, they have blocked $100,000's worth of brand traffic.
— How do advertisers check the incoming traffic?
At the moment, most advertisers do it manually. However, it is very difficult to catch the cheaters red-handed. Affiliates try their best to conceal the fact that they are driving branded paid traffic. They set narrow targeting by time and device, use IP ranges, and fine-tune redirect paths.
To better address the problem we developed an automated solution that monitors search results 24/7, considering different devices, geo, and user agents. It also records all the cases of branded paid traffic. The data including screenshots of the ad and the landing page, the redirect chain, and the affiliate's ID is then submitted to the advertiser. All in all, it is comprehensive evidence to deny this affiliate payment for violating the terms of the affiliate program.
— And what exactly happens to an affiliate who violates the terms?
If the terms of the affiliate program state that this kind of traffic is prohibited, then I'm sure that the advertiser will refuse to pay for it. The payout rate may be reduced, so it's unprofitable for the affiliate to drive any more traffic.
— What about bidding on competitors' branded keywords ?
It is a competitor targeting strategy. The vast majority of advertisers do not consider this a violation. The competition is strong, only the strongest survive!
— Are advertisers also against branded SEO traffic?
The situation is a bit more complicated. Search results are formed based on a number of external factors that are still a mystery. This means that no one can fully and consciously influence them. Getting a website to the top of the brand search results is a game of chance. Some are just lucky to try and get there, others are there by accident, and there are websites that will never get to the top. In such circumstances, advertisers need to clearly determine the keywords and the positioning of each website in search results. And only then decide whether they want to work with such an affiliate or not.
— Valentin, thank you very much for sharing all this information! I think it will be very useful for both affiliates and advertisers!