Eric Nagel

Eric Nagel

CTO, PHP Programmer, Affiliate Marketer & IT Consultant

Why Merchants Should Allow Direct Linking

I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Direct linking is a method of PPC bidding that affiliates use to send paid traffic directly to a merchant’s website, without going to a landing page (or affiliate site) first. This means when a search is done, the merchant’s domain name is shown in the ad, and when the user clicks on the ad, they end up at the merchant’s site, after the cookie is set for that affiliate.

The advantage (for affiliates) of direct linking is that an additional step in the buying process is removed (the affiliate’s website). However, some merchants do not allow this, and this can be a big mistake.

When merchants are not involved in PPC marketing, they’re often afraid of getting started. Spending money for each click can be daunting, especially if they choose the wrong keywords. But this is a huge missed opportunity, which can drive a large portion of sales.

Merchants should consider allowing their affiliates to direct link. With CPS payouts, the merchant knows what percentage of the sale they will be paying out. So if their profit is 40%, and they payout 12%, they know that they’ll still make 28% (well, a bit less, because the affiliate network takes their cut). If a sale is not made, they don’t pay a dime!

PPC affiliate marketers are experts at what they do – online businesses should focus on what they know, not worry about learning all about PPC advertising. If merchants would open up their affiliate program to direct linking, they would gain the benefits of PPC exposure, and the safety of only paying out on a CPS basis. For merchants, it’s PPC exposure, with guaranteed profits!

Maybe someone (a merchant, or an OPM) can explain to me why a merchant who is not doing any PPC advertising doesn’t allow Direct Linking?

  • Tom
    Posted April 6, 2010 2:40 pm 0Likes

    I think the biggest concern from the merchant side is that a web surfer may see the result on a SERP and think that the ad is an official company sponsored link. A bad PPC ad could tarnish the merchant, since there is no accountability to a 3rd party via the PPCr’s site.

    Granted that the 3rd party site may even be worse, but unless I make my site look just like Amazon (for example) – a web surfer would more likely know that I am expressing or sharing a product or opinion – and then passing the surfer on to the product (whether or not they know I make make a commission).

  • Eric Nagel
    Posted April 6, 2010 3:25 pm 0Likes

    Good point, Tom, but the merchant could write their PPC terms similar to how Legacy Learning has their written with regard to brand bidding: “as you do not use it in a defamatory or negative way.”

    My main point is that it’s a safe way for merchants to get into the PPC channel, without risking their own money.

    However, direct linking (as with all affiliate channels) should be monitored for abuse.

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