A trademark (TM) term, generally, consists of an advertiser’s brand name. “Trademark plus” (TM+), on the other hand, includes the use of an advertiser’s brand name plus another keyword. For example: brand name + coupon, brand name + review, brand name vs competitor, and so on.
Typically, when an affiliate requests trademark bidding rights from an advertiser they are planning on using the TM+ approach. It is a more comprehensive approach than just TM bidding. Advertisers should always fully vet affiliates that would like to engage in TM+ bidding. The advertiser must understand what the affiliate is doing and going to be doing within their campaign.
It is their brand name that is being used after all.
As an advertiser, you may reach an agreement with an affiliate to start a TM+ campaign, but has everything been covered? By that, I mean, do you have a plan in place to determine how the affiliate be monitored to ensure they are not overreaching their efforts?
There are tools that monitor an affiliate’s paid search activities and reporting if they are abusing the privilege granted to them.
One of the tools that is highly recommended is BrandVerity.
TM+ has been defined, now let’s get into the benefits for the advertisers.
Benefits of TM+ for Advertisers
First, it allows advertisers to spend less on their paid search campaigns and allocate that money to other marketing initiates to grow the business. TM+ is a performance-based model, so the affiliates only receive compensation when a sale occurs. The funding of the paid search campaign is handled by the affiliate, not the advertiser.
Second, by allowing affiliates to TM+ bid, it opens up the opportunity to get additional placements on their sites. It could be in the form of homepage placements, newsletter inclusions, or social media posts.
Advertisers who allow TM+ bidding do have leverage when negotiating and can get good deals mainly because the relationship and trust are built.
Third, it allows for broader brand representation in the search engines (SERPS). If affiliates are properly utilizing the advertiser’s TM+ the advertiser’s competitors will begin to get pushed down the SERPS. Cleaning up the SERPS using this strategy is a great benefit, but again, make sure the affiliates are playing by the rules agreed to.
The benefits of TM+ have been discussed, now best practices to follow to ensure campaign success for both the advertiser and affiliate.
Best Practices of TM+
- Make sure to submit a Google Authorization form so that the affiliates engaging in TM+ are “whitelisted” for branded terms. The last thing an advertiser wants to see is a negative reaction from Google because a simple step was forgotten about.
- Set expectations for the relationship. Do not just give them access and hope for the best. Provide sales goals and how long this specific relationship will last.
- Do not allow all affiliates that ask to TM + to do so. That will create problems in the future. Carefully select up to three (3) trusted affiliates to engage in TM+ activities and monitor their results and compare them to the others doing the same.
- Be firm with the rules of the relationship. If they are not clearly spelled out the chances are better for abuse to happen. Have them in writing and have the affiliate(s) agree to them before the engagement begins. Advertisers do not want an additional task to be added to their plate, so be safe from the beginning.
- Provide affiliates with a list of suggested keywords (ones not currently being bid on, etc.) as well as a list of prohibited keywords. This way everyone is on the same page and cannot say they were aware certain keywords were off limits.
- Provide the affiliates with a monthly promotional calendar. This will give the affiliates ample time to create the ads and have them approved by the search engines. If changes are made to a promo make sure to inform the affiliates ASAP because they are spending their own money on these campaigns.
TM+ is a great way for advertisers to expand their presence in paid search without the additional expense, plus it enables more opportunities to work together in the future besides TM+.
If executed properly TM+ affiliate partners can yield positive ROI for both the advertiser and themselves.