Watch Out Affiliates; BrandVerity PoachMark Unveiled

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BrandVerity announced the launch of PoachMark, a service to help identify and stop trademark abuse in paid search ads.

PoachMark identifies the websites, keywords and affiliate IDs utilized by affiliates as they market through paid search. The technology provides a suite of tools to detect affiliates and partners violating pre-existing agreements governing paid search by utilizing a distributed network of servers, coupled with monitoring agents capable of detecting many of the techniques used by affiliates to hide themselves, including referrer laundering, javascript interstitials, day-parting and reverse geotargeting.

Many merchants that offer affiliate programs have been forced to forbid paid search marketing entirely, as some affiliates opt to continue promoting offers using brand-related terms despite warnings not to. Those merchants using a solution such as PoachMark can benefit by saving commissions paid to fraudulent affiliates, and ultimately improve the performance of their brand keywords and by gaining a stronger ability to control their brand's messaging.

"Now brand owners can find trademark abuse that was previously invisible," said David Naffziger, BrandVerity CEO. "We're excited to finally give marketers a service that allows them to protect their brands by shining a light on the often murky relationships between brands and their affiliates. PoachMark helps merchants prevent and recover fraudulent commissions."

This is not an inexpensive service. While merchants receive monitoring in eight countries, screen grabs of search results, affiliate ID search, 12x daily monitoring frequency, 100 search terms to monitor, the cost ($799/mo) will be prohibitive. There is a lite version available for smaller brands available at $246/mo) and a 15-day free trial is available.

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JaneS 06-15-2009 4:24 AM

Maybe I'm just stupid, but I thought the whole point of being an affiliate was that you coattail on the company or product's brand recognition, and in return you do your best to direct purchasers to the company. Win-win. Please explain this further.

Peter A. Prestipino 06-15-2009 8:10 AM

I think riding the "coattail" of merchants is one way to look at it, but it may not be the best way. The reason running an affiliate program is attractive to merchants is that it provides an opportunity to access audiences (the affiliates community) that the merchant may not have access to. Most merchants have clearly defined policies on using trademarks (again their use) for good reason - those search terms have the highest conversion rate making the advertising investment lower (no long tail search phrases).

David Naffziger 06-16-2009 8:00 PM

Peter, nice article.

Jane, many affiliate programs look for affiliates that add value to the purchase process by either sending the merchant new customers or by helping to convert prospects.

Many of our clients find affiliates displacing their in-house ads or driving up click prices on their highly profitable brand terms.  In these instances, the affiliates aren't adding value, they are simply diverting dollars.

By providing transparency into affiliate activity, we have seen some merchants actually allow more paid search activity by affiliates because they know they can detect inappropriate behavior.

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