affiliate_marketing_ppc_issuesPay Per Click Advertising can be an excellent way to ramp up the number of visitors to your website and increase affiliate sales.

I go into more detail on how to use PPC advertising in a separate post, but before you start a new paid search campaign it’s important to know that when it comes to affiliate marketing PPC there are several issues you need to consider to make sure you’re on sound legal and financial ground.

Terms of Service

It is essential you read your affiliate program Terms of Service to understand what paid advertising is or is not allowed.

Many affiliate programs allow you to use paid search programs, including PPC techniques, to promote their products. However, many programs restrict paid advertising for their products. They do this for 2 reasons:

  1. They already run sophisticated online advertising campaigns. If this is the case, chances are the restriction is in place to keep competition for their ad keywords lower and increase their own ROI. After all, if the company can drive the same traffic to their own page just as easily as you could drive it to their blog, why would they want to pay hefty affiliate commissions?
  2. They have trademark concerns. Many companies trademark part or all of their promotional materials, including their company name, logo, and product names. If this is the case, running a PPC campaign using their name without permission may violate their trademark rights, leaving you vulnerable to legal action.

Retaliation against affiliates for mis-use of material (in violation of the Terms of Service) will usually get you banned from their affiliate program, but in some cases may result in legal action. It’s absolutely essential you read and understand your affiliate agreement before you begin any PPC campaign.

Landing Page Quality

A secondary consideration for affiliate marketing PPC is to make sure you abide by all of the rules and guidelines set forth by the ad-networks.

Many networks (and especially Google) set stringent quality standards they expect every advertiser to abide by. While some standards are extremely obvious (no adult content, for example), others can be a little more subtle.

Google, in general, is wary of promoting affiliate marketing through Adwords campaigns. Their guidelines are in place to ensure that if you’re driving traffic to your site, your site should be a destination point for your user, and provide sufficient original value that it justifies luring that user away from other, competing ads or organic search results.

For example, having a PPC campaign that drives users directly to a product review site, with the sole intention of that user clicking your affiliate link to the company’s product page, is likely a violation of Google’s standards. This ad is not likely to be approved and while you may just get a warning, attempting to bypass quality standards can lead to a suspension of your entire Adwords account.

Historically, Yahoo and Bing have less stringent guidelines, but it’s still important to make sure that you’re providing clear and obvious value to the user by directing them to your site.

Ensuring a Positive ROI

Finally, you should always consider any ad campaign in the context of the ROI, or return on investment, it can provide. Without carefully tracking your campaign results and adjusting for your performance, it is easy to waste money on an ad campaign that will never provide you with return value.

Keep in mind that every click required for a sales process will drastically reduce the number of users that get to the end target, so if your ultimate objective is a sale on a third party website, you’re going to see lower results than if you were selling the product directly from your site.

To overcome this, it’s important to provide a clear flow of content from your ad to your landing page and beyond that keeps the user engaged and increases the likelihood of a sale.