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Direct Linking in Affiliate Marketing PPC Campaigns

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There seems to be something of a revival of interest in direct linking among affiliate marketers who use pay per click (PPC) advertising to drive traffic to their merchants’ sites.  Direct linking is a situation in which the consumer is taken directly to the merchant when she or he clicks on the ad.  Of course, the affiliate’s code is embedded.

Every once in a while a direct linking campaign may prove profitable for the affiliate, but the technique presents some additional obstacles for the affiliate marketer to navigate.  Here are a few of the problems.

Since the prospect is directed immediately to the merchant, the affiliate marketer has no opportunity to add the prospect to his or her own marketing funnel.  In other words, although the affiliate has paid for the ad, that affiliate can’t approach the prospect with offers of additional or alternative products.  Even merchants who use PPC often find it difficult to recoup their advertising costs with the first sale.  Instead, they count on repeat business to make their PPC expenses worthwhile.  It stands to reason that, in such an environment, it is even more difficult for the affiliate to make the advertising campaign profitable with the use of direct linking.

At least some of the major search engines employ a “double serve rule.”  They won’t allow two ads with the same landing domain name to be shown at the same time.  Thus a direct linking campaign means that the affiliate is competing not only with all of the other product ads that appear for a given search term, but the affiliate is also in competition with other affiliates employing a direct linking strategy for that same merchant.  Additionally, the affiliate will be in competition with any PPC campaign that the vendor is running.  In order to have an ad appear at all in the search results, those ads will have to be better at generating income for the search engine than those other campaigns linking to the same domain.  Who needs such additional competition?

Finally, in those instances where a merchant is able to recoup all of the PPC costs from the first sale, the profit margin tends to be very low.  In most affiliate programs, the affiliate earns less on a sale than the merchant makes on a sale made without affiliates.  An affiliate marketer, using direct linking, needs to be much more efficient than the merchant to even stand a chance of breaking even.  I would rather have the odds stacked a bit more in my favor.

Affiliate marketers can make PPC profitable with techniques that do not employ direct linking.  I’ll evaluate some of those in a later article.

Greg Scott is a staff writer for a web site that offers valuable information for anyone looking to establish a start-up e-commerce business. He also writes about a variety of other topics.

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