Why Enhanced PPC Could Temporarily Damage Affiliate Marketing & A Solution

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I do PPC for very niche sites and programs that I trust, which is very few.  When Google switched from their “legacy” model with campaigns to their enhanced campaigns, they added in a huge issue for Affiliates, you cannot turn off tablets.  This is a giant issue for a few reasons.  I’m going to go over the main ones I can think of and then teach you how to turn off mobile phones as a device with enhanced campaigns so you can help prevent a giant leak if you are a PPC Affiliate.  This is only a temporary issue in my opinion because of the massive amount of growth with tablets and people that shop with them after clicking through a PPC ad.  Because of that I’ll also give you a workaround and solution, but your Affiliates are going to have to trust you enough to pay them if you are going to be able to keep them.

Enhanced PPC does not allow you to opt out of Tablets, just mobile phones.  This is where the biggest issue occurs for PPC Affiliates.

1.  People using a tablet to look and share the products, then using a computer to buy.

In many of the niches I work in, people share products before they buy them.  If you sell wedding or prom dresses or are ordering a style of wedding cake or picking designs, years ago you would pull it up on your computer and send the images to your friends.  Once everyone has seen it, then you go back onto your computer and buy the product.  Unfortunately this has now changed and Google will be causing damage to PPC Affiliates that rely on a cookie life for sales.

If you think about the example above, if you are choosing decorations for a baby shower, you could do a Google search when you are with your friends, click through a PPC ad and then find what they want on your site, click your Affiliate link and check out the merchant.  When they are done planning and have everything, they go home to share it with their partner or their parents and then go online and order.  Chances are people aren’t going to go onto that same tablet or mobile phone and place the order.  Instead they are probably going to go on their computer where your Affiliate cookie isn’t set, and you just paid for a click and the merchant got the sale, but you won’t get credit.

2.  People browsing with tablets don’t shop as much on their tablets and you cannot turn them off with enhanced campaigns.

Tablets still don’t equal even near 50% of online purchases from what I’ve read and seen with different eCommerce stores analytics.  Many stores are lucky if they can get 20% mobile sales.  Even though sales are down compared to computers, tablet usage for searches, Facebook and other places people use Affiliate links is way up.  This is another huge problem.  With the lack of actual sales going through a tablet and the search and click volume going up on tablets, your chances of getting credit for sales with PPC is diminishing fast.  Google will not allow you to turn them off either.  They wrote me an email saying that it is too hard for them to differentiate a computer from a tablet which is why you can only turn off mobile phones.  Here is the email from Google.

email from google about enhanced campaigns
email from Google about enhanced campaigns

3.  You don’t have a pixel to fire for tracking.

Unless the merchant has third party tracking and you can trust them to manually credit you for the sales, you now lose them because you cannot have a pixel for Adwords in their cart.  By adding a second adwords pixel to your shopping cart because an Affiliate wants to see their conversions from tablets and computers, Google can shut off all of your campaigns and you may not get them turned back on.  It will show you are running multiple ads for the same store within the same account which is against their TOS.  If a PPC Affiliate asks you to place a pixel like this that reads and reports back to or from Adwords, do not do it as it could hurt your company even more than any value they could add…unless you don’t do your own PPC.  It could wipe out all Google PPC traffic for you which is never a good thing to have happen.

So what can you do to protect your PPC Affiliates from tablets in PPC and help them feel confident?

Most merchants, my guess is 95% or higher allow theft (because they don’t know better or they are being lied to by an OPM or Network) in their programs with coupon sites, trademark bidders and adware.  It doesn’t matter if they are OPM run, managed in house or by the networks.  Clean programs are almost impossible to find now.  That breaks the trust for a lot of the top PPC Affiliates.  (I’ll do a post on how to attract value adding non trademark bidding PPC Affiliates later on).   Here are a couple of possible options to help make them feel confident and keep them going within your program.

1.  Set up parameters or unique urls for secondary tracking.

By adding on parameters or using unique tracking urls that report into another system and record the Affiliate’s ID, you can now track from the first click with the ID to the sale in your tracking system because you have tagged the user.  (This doesn’t completely work if they change over from devices unless you have a very advanced tracking system).  Then at the end of the month, once a week or each day you can go in and compare sales that were reported into your network and see if any were missing.  Because there are already tracking gaps and issues with the networks and analytics packages, you may see more sales inside the network everyonce in a while, or it could be the network pixel over firing.  This sounds easy but can actually be a bit tricky, especially because one of your non value adding affiliates having the sale that they stole from a legit partner, you don’t have the proper coding in, or multiple affiliates taking credit for one sale (or one stealing from the legit partner).

2.  Make sure you are asking where the person found you.

Although this isn’t the best possible way to do it, many legit and top PPC Affiliates will  build landing pages on unique urls that are easy to remember and that are brandable.  If they provided value, the person may actually remember the url and if you always ask how the person found you and which site referred them to you, you can help to build their trust.  Many top PPC Affiliates will actually call the merchant to place an order just to see if they ask or not.  It can mean the difference between a good merchant and a bad one.  If the order they place doesn’t get credited to their account, they won’t work with you or trust you.  It isn’t a great option with Google enhanced campaigns and tablets for PPC, but it is one more thing you can do to help build and keep the confidence in your program for your PPC Affiliates.

3.  Offer a higher commission, but do not allow bidding on trademarks or trademark/url + coupons.

One possible third option is to offer a higher commission to help make up for the missing sales due to tablet clicks.  You’ll also want to have the Affiliate compare their old clicks and conversions without tablets being enabled to the new amount of clicks and sales so they can get an estimated loss.  Once they have an estimated loss, you can change their commissions to make it possible for them to earn the same amount as they did before.

How to turn off Mobile Phones for Google Enhanced Campaigns.

Log into your account.  Click on Campaigns and select the campaign you want.  Now click on settings and click on devices.  Next to mobile you can add or decrease a percentage.  Set it to -100% and you have now in theory turned off mobile ads.  One program I do PPC for dropped in conversions drastically when my account was changed to enhanced and I found it was because of mobile and tablets.  The clicks on tablets was almost the same as the clicks from computers which cut my sales deep and ended up costing me money instead of making money.  Luckily the campaigns were test ones so it wasn’t a huge loss, but this could have been horrible for some current campaigns that spend a ton.  On another campaign, the conversion rate is a bit lower when Google turned my old campaigns to enhanced, but after tweaking my campaigns and shutting off mobile it started to recover.

When tablets or if tablets get up to the same amount of shopping from PPC and SEO as computers and laptops, this won’t be as much of an issue.  However, with the growth in search from tablets and phone and the leading sales volume coming from computers (from what I’ve seen), PPC Affiliates are taking a hit.  This could also be a reason why SEO and social media Affiliates may have taken a hit with conversion rates as well.

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