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Old 04-08-2005   #1
Bountyhunter
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Angry PPC Blackmail.......

I recently got a call from our affiliate manager informing me of their "new PPC guidelines". These included A) Your bid must be set to .50 cents (or less) this applies to both Google and Overture B) Cannot use parent domain (wasn't using anyways) C) You must stay out of the top 4 positions on Overture and with Google we'll see how it goes due to CTR bidding etc. In additon the parent company has decided to use no less than FOUR separate domains to occupy the top 4 positions with Overture and is currently in the top 3 with Google. Luckily our PPC % of our business is only 30% so we complied (didnt really have a choice in the matter now did we?). We also weren't willing to risk what is nearly a seven figure revenue stream per year. I'm quite aware of what my options are beginning with notifying both Goog/Over for removal and possibly up to and including serious legal action. Having just settled another sort of similar case I'm not too eager to do that again. btw--the parent company I'm referring to is publicly traded, 1. 5 billion sales and all of you would recognize the name.....What would you do ?
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Old 04-08-2005   #2
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>What would you do ?

Its just a business relationship. Decide if you want to continue with it or not, sometimes you can stick to the letter of the law but the relationship is still destroyed. Its just business, make your best business decision and then combine that with your emotional self, thats usually the best answer to any problem.
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Old 04-08-2005   #3
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I think it's a pretty crappy way to treat an affiliate, honestly. Use them until you learn to do it yourself, then basically tell them to take a hike and take over.

I'd consider going to work for their competition, but that's just me...

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Old 04-08-2005   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bountyhunter
the parent company has decided to use no less than FOUR separate domains to occupy the top 4 positions with Overture and is currently in the top 3 with Google.
Have you complained to Overture & Adwords about this? This stuff is against their TOS.
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Old 04-08-2005   #5
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>Have you complained to Overture & Adwords about this? This stuff is against their TOS.

Its not about TOS, its about business relationships.
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Old 04-08-2005   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFFC
Its not about TOS, its about business relationships.
It is about business relationships.

The affiliate manager is screwing the affiliates with unreasonable changes to the business relationship to push them out of PPC. Why is this valuable to the affiliate manager? Because they wish to monopolize the PPC listings. Why do they think they can monopolize the PPC listings? Because they are getting away with multiple listings, in violation of the PPCs' TOS.

So, if the affiliate manager finds that they cannot violate the TOS and they can only run one listing themselves, then, maybe, they'll have an enhanced appreciation of their business relationships with their affiliates.
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Old 04-08-2005   #7
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I haven't informed both Google and Overture as of yet...but I will soon if they don't remove their four separate domains and leave only one. I'm more curious how both Google and Overture feel about a top level affiliate parent colluding and conspiring to "set" affiliate bids (behind theirs of course) by implied force because 'the click amounts are too high" not to mention getting totally greedy by having multiple domains they control bidding for the same keyword. This is a direct attack on their auction type business model. I'm sure Goog and Overture have encountered it before say when they see overnight advertiser #1 at 1.00 and everyone else behind that bidder conveniently at .50 cents after months of bidding being in the 3 to 4 dollar range. I'm sure there are some RICO violations here.....we'll see how this plays out but the longer it goes on being handcuffed with respect to competitive bidding and our real dollar losses the more attractive litigation will become.
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Old 04-11-2005   #8
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Are the four domains offering duplicate content, or different content that ultimately leads to a transaction with the same company? Or is it some other structure entirely? That sounds like spam to me, even without the issue of PPC. Does a searcher hitting one of these four domains realize all roads lead to the same place? Are searchers being deceived?

If so, that should be of great interest to the engines.
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Old 04-11-2005   #9
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Are you sure that the company owns all 4 domains or are you just being paranoid about the company having a better relationship with their other top affiliates? What's wrong with leading to a transaction with the same company, then all the affiliate programs should be shut-down. Isn't that all we all do as affiliates at the end of the day?
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Old 04-11-2005   #10
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Have they published their new guidelines on their website? Or the new guidelines apply to you only? If the latter, you should make it clear to the Affiliate Manager that you need written instructions as to changes to the guidelines and that you’re seriously considering going public and letting other affiliates know about the changes.

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Old 04-11-2005   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sapphire
Are the four domains offering duplicate content, or different content that ultimately leads to a transaction with the same company?... Yes, the four domains are using slightly different content however they all lead to the same place

Or is it some other structure entirely? That sounds like spam to me, even without the issue of PPC. Does a searcher hitting one of these four domains realize all roads lead to the same place? ....Are searchers being deceived? ...Sure if you count having FOUR separate domains in use for the same keyword and then telling your affilates to stay the F%&CK out of the top four positions

If so, that should be of great interest to the engines.
... I think it will be of great interest to the engines too
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Old 04-11-2005   #12
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all kinds of aff program have bidding guidelines for their affiliates - deal with it or move on to another supplier

4 domains for top 3 slots is a seperate issue...
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Old 04-11-2005   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikey
Are you sure that the company owns all 4 domains or are you just being paranoid about the company having a better relationship with their other top affiliates? What's wrong with leading to a transaction with the same company, then all the affiliate programs should be shut-down. Isn't that all we all do as affiliates at the end of the day?

Yep they own all four (they told me so) so that elminates the paranoia option.

Nothing's wrong with leading to a transaction to the same company (provided the affiliates get a chance to competively bid)...but do you think it's OK to tell your affiliates to "set" their bid max at .50 cents and then keep their four corporate controlled domains (major violation of TOS) ahead of everyone else ?
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Old 04-11-2005   #14
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There is nothing wrong with merchants setting a PPC cap. It is rather common. As others have said, there is a problem with setting up 4 campaigns.

Why haven't you said who it is? There should be nothing to hide. This is a public program. The terms should be public. Others should have gotten the terms. Why don't you say who it is?

~~~ Cyndy ~~~
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Old 04-11-2005   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyndy
Why don't you say who it is?
That would not be good for the business relationship.

Last edited by cline : 04-11-2005 at 09:40 PM. Reason: big typo
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Old 04-12-2005   #16
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If Bountyhunter had listed the company name in her original post, there would have been no harm to the business relationship because it was truly factual. It may be different now that there has been such negativity about it.

Now, it doesn't matter because someone will figure it out and post it.

Why would the merchant care anyway? Why is there harm? If Bountyhunter is stating facts, like the merchant's policies, what is the harm? Why would it hurt a relationship? That would mean that the merchant knows the policy is wrong and wants to hide it. Shouldn't the merchant want the policy spread far and wide so all affiliates will know about it and abide by it?
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Old 04-12-2005   #17
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>violations

I'm not one who is prone to posting "it's gotta be illegal" replies but this does sound a lot like restraint of trade in interstate commerce. So if you'd like to waste some time trying to burn 'em, I'd document all of the above and send it by certified mail to the FCC. For extra fun, I'd cc the merchant and the AM.
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Old 04-12-2005   #18
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Did you agree to the merchant's affiliate terms and conditions? If so, you will have a tough time with a restraint of trade claim.
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Old 04-12-2005   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyndy
Did you agree to the merchant's affiliate terms and conditions? If so, you will have a tough time with a restraint of trade claim.
Lot's of things have been agreed to and confessed to at the barrel of a gun. No we didn't sign anything and I already tongue in cheek asked our AM if they were actually thinking of putting this is writing (their not for obvious reasons) . I can see it now...

Section 2c
All affiliates shall fix their bid at .50 cents on Overture(and Google) on the following keywords XXX, XXXX, XXX etc. . This is to ensure that corporate can put four separate domains in positions 1-4 and keep our ROI high.

These new terms are not being broadcast publicly, they are being quietly told to each affiliate privately. This is a classic battle between the marketing department inside the company in question and the channel sales departments affiliates. They specifically made it known the exec's at the top don't feel it's ok for corporate to spend millions on advertising and for affiliates to gain off of that goodwill in any manner hence the new "policies". I think most on this board would agree that this strategy is schizophrenic and they should have just terminated their affiliate program if they feel that their affiliates don't provide value. Everyone thats doing any kind of affiliate marketing benefits from offline (Radio,TV,Print etc.) advertisement of tradenames and companies goodwill.
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Old 04-12-2005   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bountyhunter
No we didn't sign anything and I already tongue in cheek asked our AM if they were actually thinking of putting this is writing (their not for obvious reasons) .
Are you saying that you have no agreement with this merchant? Then you're saying that the merchant doesn't have to pay you. You agreed to the terms and the merchant has changed them according to those terms. If the merchant has not changed them, the the merchant has told you that if you do not abide by these new terms, they will terminate you anyway. That's the weakness of affiliate marketing. This is why affiliates get so upset and why merchants never understand. You have no recourse but you knew that coming into it. You can always drop the merchant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bountyhunter
Section 2c
All affiliates shall fix their bid at .50 cents on Overture(and Google) on the following keywords XXX, XXXX, XXX etc. . This is to ensure that corporate can put four separate domains in positions 1-4 and keep our ROI high.
Many merchants have these terms (your first sentence, not your second sentence). The 50 cent limit is not unusual. The 4 domains is unusual. I would not expect to see the 4 domain provision in the terms and conditions.

It is odd that the merchant is not coming out publicly with these terms. You should find a way to out them.

~~~Cyndy~~~
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