Brand protection for affiliates

How to protect your brand in an affiliate program

Affiliate marketing is big, but we’re sure that you already knew that. But were you aware of just *how* big it is?

According to 2018 statistics by the Performance Marketing Association, the industry was valued at $6.2 billion at this time. 

Your brand represents a number of key areas. These include your mission and values, customer experience and how you’re unique – compared to the rest of the market. All of these are worth protecting. Your brand took a long time to build, but could be destroyed much quicker. 

But how exactly can you protect your brand against misuse by affiliates? Good news – there are a number of ways. Let’s dive deeper into these. 

Understand what you need to protect 

As a starting point, the best form of protection is to control the aspects that you can see. These include websites and content, social promotions and email campaigns. 

Once you’ve fixed the above, addressing what you can’t see is also important. This includes aspects such as adware and paid search. It also relates to unauthorised web content, which might include your brand being promoted on sites that you’re not aware of. 

Strategies for protecting your brand 

Now you’re aware of what you need to look out for, we can talk a bit more about specific brand protection strategies. The below are some things that have been recommended by Dave Naffziger, CEO of BrandVerity

Review your partnership agreements. You should know everything that is and isn’t permitted under the conditions of your partnership. But as time progresses, it’s natural that you might forget some of these. 

To avoid becoming the victim of ill-practices, take a look through your partnership agreements on a regular basis – i.e. every three months or so. That way, you’ll be able to act faster if something goes wrong. 

Find out how users come to your website. You need to know who’s promoting your website and once you do, it’s important to check these sites yourself. Does it look like something that you’d show your friends, parents or colleagues? If not, then you need to address your position on there.

Be clear on how prospective affiliates get users. Know where traffic is coming from for your affiliates. Is it being driven through search engines or social media, or somewhere else? Have they bought traffic? Are their methods ethical? Ask yourself these questions, because where your traffic comes from can affect how high or low their quality is.

Undergo a sanity check. What is meant by a sanity check? Simply put, that the affiliate is fit-for-purpose. The unfortunate reality is that in a space where competition is so fierce, there are going to be individuals who seek to cheat the system. Look out for paid ad abusers, who might try to rip off a famous brand such as Microsoft. Look out for unauthorised code users, too. Both of these are red flags. 

Final thoughts 

Brand protection is vital, especially when you’re being placed on external sites. Although you’ll have some affiliates that are a joy to partner with, others could be far from that. 

Ultimately, you need to be very clear on how and where you’re being promoted. If a prospective partner uses unethical practices to drive traffic, then you’re better off looking elsewhere. 

Know what you need to protect and how to do it. Through those two steps, you’ll be better-equipped to improve your integrity online.

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