Open PPC Policy, Affiliate Marketing and Ecommerce

A recent ABestWeb forum thread has truly shocked me. Shocked I tell you! And I've become nearly immune to most everything, hardly blinking an eye in the face of even the most innovative techniques, trends and technologies that come my way. So what is that shocked me so greatly?

The Pia Jewelry affiliate program has an open PPC policy! This means that affiliates are free to bid on all terms, including brand terms. Pia believes this policy enables its affiliate to "better promote Pia products and therefore boost earning potential." You might want to take a deep breath as I'm sure you are equally shocked.

You might remember that back in April Amazon notified affiliates they would no longer be paying referral fees to associates sending users to Amazon through paid search (keyword bidding) practices. Allowing affiliates to leverage pay-per-click search engines is nothing new, but the debate continues about whether to allow affiliates the right to bid on brand related terms (which are often trademarked). Is it good business or misinformed marketing? A control issue or a strategic decision?

The Affiliate Summit AffStat 2009 report covered yesterday on highlighted that 55% of affiliates were currently using PPC to promote merchant products. Should more merchants take an open PPC policy, it's possible that these numbers could increase, perhaps dramatically. Pia Jewelry aside, affiliates trending towards using PPC as a promotional means typically look for popular brands whose affiliate managers support an open PPC policy. It's been my belief that merchants should allow PPC bidding through an open policy but measure the performance of affilaites and the key terms they are using so as to determine the best time to turn off the switch - which should come right after a good deal of brand recognition has been achieved.

For those interested in promoting Pia Jewelry, a little about the affiliate program might be in order. Pia Jewelry has a stated AOV (average order value) of $60-70, a high conversion rate and the majority of its products are priced below $50. that range from necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings and brooches to a wide range of accessories & watches are available. Affiliates receive 8% commission on each sale (excluding shipping and handling charges). And of course, as a Pia Jewelry affiliate you will not be subject to any PPC restrictions.