What is Brand Building in Affiliate Marketing

What Is Brand Bidding in Affiliate Marketing?

Brand bidding in affiliate marketing is a controversial practice that raises concerns for both advertisers and publishers.

As an affiliate, it’s important to understand what brand bidding is in the context of affiliate marketing, how it works, and the potential risks and consequences involved.

Keep reading to learn the impact of brand bidding on advertisers, the problems it can create, and what affiliates should consider before engaging in this practice.

What Is Brand Bidding in Affiliate Marketing?

Brand bidding in affiliate marketing is when publishers bid on an advertiser’s branded keywords in search engines to attract users who are already motivated to buy directly from that brand.

This means affiliates compete with the advertiser for their brand-related traffic, potentially diverting organic traffic away from the advertiser’s website and increasing their advertising costs.

Example of Brand Bidding in Affiliate Marketing

Let’s say you’re an affiliate for a company called “Acme Widgets.” As a brand bidder, you might bid on keywords like:

  • “Acme Widgets”
  • “Acme Widget coupon”
  • “Acme Widget discount”
  • “Buy Acme Widgets”

When someone searches for these branded terms, your affiliate ad may appear above or alongside Acme Widgets’ own ads and organic search results. If a user clicks your ad and makes a purchase, you earn a commission, even though the user was originally searching specifically for the Acme Widgets brand.

While this may seem like an effective way to capture commissions, it can create several problems for advertisers.

It’s important for affiliates to understand and respect advertiser policies on brand bidding. Many affiliate terms and conditions prohibit this practice.

Engaging in brand bidding without permission can lead to serious consequences, such as having your affiliate account suspended or terminated, or even legal action in some cases.

Problems with Brand Bidding for Advertisers

Brand bidding can create several significant issues for advertisers, negatively impacting their marketing efforts and overall profitability. Some of the most common problems include:

Cannibalization of Paid Traffic

When affiliates engage in brand bidding, they can divert a portion of the organic traffic that would have otherwise gone directly to the advertiser’s website. This means the advertiser loses valuable clicks and leads, reducing the effectiveness of their own campaigns. 

As a result, the advertiser’s conversion rates may decline, and they may see a lower return on investment (ROI) from their marketing efforts.

Increased Ad Costs

As more affiliates compete for the same branded keywords, the cost-per-click (CPC) for those keywords inevitably rises. Advertisers are then forced to pay more to maintain their ad positions and visibility, increasing advertising costs. 

This can be particularly problematic for smaller advertisers with limited budgets, as they may struggle to compete with affiliates who have more resources to invest in bidding wars. 

The combination of higher CPCs, increased competition, and reduced organic traffic can significantly impact an advertiser’s profitability, potentially offsetting any revenue generated from affiliate sales.

Risks to Brand Reputation

Brand bidding can also pose risks to an advertiser’s brand reputation. When affiliates bid on branded keywords, the advertiser loses control over how their brand is represented in search results. 

Affiliates may use ad copy or landing pages that don’t align with the advertiser’s brand guidelines, messaging, or values. This can lead to a poor user experience, confusion among potential customers, and damage to the advertiser’s brand image. 

In some cases, affiliates may even use misleading or deceptive tactics to lure users, further harming the advertiser’s reputation and eroding trust with their target audience. 

How Does Brand Bidding Work?

When affiliates engage in brand bidding, they create search engine advertising campaigns targeting an advertiser’s branded keywords. 

These campaigns can include the advertiser’s brand name, specific product names, or branded phrases commonly used by customers searching for the advertiser’s offerings.

The impact of brand bidding on advertisers can be substantial, as it not only diverts potential customers but also increases advertising costs and risks damaging the advertiser’s brand reputation. 

To protect their interests, advertisers must implement clear policies and guidelines for their affiliate programs, explicitly stating whether brand bidding is permitted or prohibited. They should also closely monitor their affiliates’ activities and take action against those who violate their policies, such as suspending or terminating their affiliate accounts.

What Can Advertisers Do to Combat Brand Bidding?

To protect their interests and maintain control over their brand representation, advertisers can take several proactive steps to combat brand bidding in their affiliate programs.

  • Introduce anti-brand bidding rules in affiliate terms and conditions: Clearly state in your affiliate program’s terms and conditions that brand bidding is strictly prohibited. This sets a clear expectation for affiliates and provides a basis for enforcing consequences if they violate the policy.
  • Add strict guidelines for partners engaging in brand bidding: Establish specific guidelines for affiliates who may be tempted to engage in brand bidding. These guidelines should outline the potential consequences of violating the anti-brand bidding policy, such as immediate suspension or termination of their affiliate account, and the forfeiture of any commissions earned through brand bidding.
  • Use automated solutions to detect and prevent brand bidding: Implement automated tools, such as Brand Auditor, to continuously monitor your branded keywords and detect any instances of affiliates bidding on them. These tools can provide real-time alerts and detailed reports, enabling you to quickly identify and address any violations. Automated solutions can also help you gather evidence of brand bidding, which can be used to enforce your policies and take appropriate action against offending affiliates.

In addition to these measures, regularly communicate with your affiliates about your brand bidding policies and the importance of adhering to them. Provide educational resources and support to help affiliates succeed without using brand bidding tactics.

Encourage affiliates to create high-quality, value-added content that attracts organic traffic and builds trust with potential customers. This approach benefits the affiliates, helps maintain a positive brand image, and fosters long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between advertisers and their affiliate partners.

Benefits of Preventing Brand Bidding for Advertisers

Protect Advertising Budget

  • Reduce wasted ad spend: Preventing affiliates from bidding on your branded keywords helps you avoid paying for traffic that would have come to your site organically. This allows you to allocate your advertising budget more effectively, focusing on acquiring new customers and expanding your reach.
  • Lower cost-per-click (CPC): When affiliates compete with you for branded keywords, the increased competition drives up the CPC. By eliminating this competition, you can maintain lower CPCs for your branded keywords, ensuring that your advertising budget goes further and generates a higher return on investment (ROI).

Maintain Control Over Brand Representation

  • Ensure consistent brand messaging: When you prevent affiliates from bidding on your branded keywords, you maintain control over how your brand is represented in search results. This allows you to ensure that your ads and landing pages accurately reflect your brand’s values, messaging, and unique selling proposition, creating a cohesive and trustworthy experience for potential customers.
  • Protect brand reputation: Affiliates who engage in brand bidding may use ad copy or landing pages that don’t align with your brand guidelines or may even employ deceptive tactics to lure users. By prohibiting brand bidding, you can protect your brand’s reputation and maintain the trust and loyalty of your target audience.

Encourage Affiliate Creativity and Originality

  • Foster innovation: When affiliates cannot rely on brand bidding, they are motivated to develop more creative and original marketing strategies. This can lead to the creation of high-quality, value-added content that attracts organic traffic and builds trust with potential customers. As a result, your affiliate program can benefit from a more diverse and effective range of promotional tactics.
  • Strengthen partnerships: Encouraging affiliates to focus on creating genuine value for your shared audience helps foster stronger, more collaborative relationships between you and your affiliate partners. This can lead to increased loyalty, higher engagement, and ultimately, better results for both parties.

Is Brand Bidding Worth It for Affiliates?

While brand bidding may seem like an easy way to capture commissions, it comes with significant risks and potential consequences that affiliates must carefully consider.

Many advertisers explicitly prohibit brand bidding in their affiliate terms and conditions. Engaging in this practice without permission can result in your affiliate account being suspended or terminated, and you may forfeit any commissions earned through brand bidding. 

In some cases, advertisers may even take legal action against affiliates who violate their policies.

Although brand bidding can generate quick commissions, it can also damage your reputation as an affiliate and harm your relationships with advertisers. If you become known for engaging in questionable or prohibited practices, advertisers may be less likely to work with you in the future, limiting your long-term earning potential. 

Affiliates should focus on building trust and credibility with both advertisers and audiences.

Rather than relying on brand bidding, affiliates should focus on developing original, high-quality content that attracts organic traffic and builds trust with potential customers. 

This approach not only helps you establish yourself as a credible authority in your niche but also fosters stronger, more collaborative relationships with advertisers. By joining the best affiliate networks and following their guidelines, you can access a wide range of products and services to promote while maintaining a positive reputation.

Each affiliate should weigh the risks before engaging in brand bidding.

Affiliates who prioritize long-term success and strong partnerships with advertisers may find that the short-term gains of brand bidding are not worth the potential damage to their reputation and earning potential.

What Is the Best Approach to Brand Bidding in Affiliate Marketing?

  • Respect advertiser policies: Review and adhere to each advertiser’s guidelines regarding brand bidding. If an advertiser prohibits the practice, respect their decision and find alternative ways to promote their products or services.
  • Focus on creating value-added content: Instead of relying on brand bidding, concentrate your efforts on developing original, high-quality content that attracts organic traffic and sales and builds trust with your audience. This approach establishes you as a credible authority in your niche and fosters stronger relationships with both advertisers and potential customers. Creating compelling content that addresses your audience’s needs and interests is key to long-term success in affiliate marketing.
  • Prioritize long-term success: While brand bidding may generate quick commissions, it can also harm your reputation and limit your long-term earning potential. Affiliates who prioritize sustainable success focus on building strong partnerships with advertisers and delivering genuine value to their audience. This approach may require more effort upfront but can lead to more significant rewards and opportunities in the long run.
  • Communicate openly with advertisers: If you’re unsure about an advertiser’s stance on brand bidding or have questions about their policies, reach out to them directly. Open communication helps build trust and ensures that you’re always acting in the best interest of your partnership. Most advertisers appreciate affiliates who take the time to understand their guidelines and work collaboratively to promote their products or services.
  • Diversify your promotional strategies: Rather than relying solely on brand bidding, explore a variety of promotional tactics to drive traffic and sales. This can include creating product reviews, comparisons, tutorials, or other types of content that showcase the value of the products you’re promoting. Diversifying your approach not only reduces your dependence on any single tactic but also helps you reach a wider audience and adapt to changing market conditions.

If you are involved in affiliate marketing, it is important to navigate brand bidding practices with a strategic and respectful approach. At HostPapa, we understand that you need a reliable partner to enhance your online presence without compromising your brand’s integrity. 

Visit our website today to learn more about how HostPapa can help support your website creation process with our web hosting, website building, and domain name solutions. 

Mike is a digital marketing pro and has built and hosted hundreds of his own websites over the past decade. He also writes about various other topics including sports, cyber security, and video games.

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