Any good affiliate program manager will tell you that allowing affiliates to bid on your trademark is not a smart move. You spend good money to show up for your branded term; you don’t want to compete with your own affiliates for that traffic. Allowing affiliates to bid on your trademark is a bad idea. Except when it’s not…
There are a few reasons you might want to allow affiliates to bid on your trademarked term.
1. Your competitors are.
If you google your search term, either alone or in conjunction with other terms, and you see your competitors’ ads showing up in that space, you should do everything you can to push them out. Allowing your affiliates to bid on your term will ensure that the traffic from those search results go to YOUR site. Even if it requires you to pay commission, it’s preferable to having the traffic go to your competitor. Might it raise your costs a bit? Maybe? But again, it’s probably better than losing the traffic altogether. Setting bidcaps with your affiliates can help ensure they don’t outbid you, minimizing the impact to your search budget.
2. You’re not converting on TM+ terms
If you’re running campaigns on brand + terms like ‘coupons,’ ‘promo codes’, etc., and experiencing a low conversion rate, you may be better off letting affiliates capture that traffic for you. Consumers tend to trust well-known coupon sites over the brand itself when they’re searching for offers. Consumers sometimes feel like the discounts they’re getting on coupon sites are somehow better than any discount the brand would provide on its own. (This is especially true if you’re linking to your homepage. If you’re bidding on TM+ coupon terms, you should at the very least be linking to a page on your site providing a list of the coupon offers currently running.)
3. Your website name is too generic
If your website name is something generic, like ‘art supplies’ or ‘book store,’ you probably can’t claim that your name is trademarked. In this case, like in scenario 1, you’re better off letting affiliates bid on brand + coupon terms, since there are likely to be numerous other businesses competing for those terms. Allowing affiliates to bid ensures that more of that traffic ultimately comes back to you.
If you do elect to allow affiliates to bid on your TM term, be sure to limit it to 2-3 high quality affiliates who specialize in paid search. Some of these affiliates have leak-proof landing pages, where only your offers will be displayed, with no other links to distract users and lead them away from your offers. Partnering with an expert in the field will minimize potential issues and ensure that you can feel comfortable that your brand is being well represented.