Rolling out the Welcome Mat: Ensuring Guests Find Your Hotel Online

The average hotel brand is losing out on direct web traffic to the tune of about 26,500 visitors each month.  This can lead to a real loss in revenue as those bookings go elsewhere.

Our concise infographic breaks down the numbers for you, based on information found in the hotel section of our quarterly report on The State of Branded Keywords in Paid Search.


The report evaluates the paid search landscape on branded keywords of over 250 popular, consumer-facing brands from 10 different industry categories, including hotels. BrandVerity monitored core brand terms during Q1 of 2015 to evaluate trends in how brands are targeted. From those results, we’ve found that trademark bidding costs the typical brand tens of thousands of visitors to their site each month.

The full report is available as a free download. Also, if you’re keen for more information on paid search pertaining to hotels, check out BrandVerity’s Report on OTA Brand Bidding.


New AdWords URLs Won’t Curb Affiliate Hijacking

On July 1, Google officially migrated all accounts to Upgraded URLs. While Google’s descriptions of the new feature have primarily focused on the simplification of tracking templates and decrease in ad downtime, we were intrigued to see if the changes might spill over and affect affiliates’ ability to hijack paid search ads.

So, we did some testing of the new AdWords URLs to see what we could find. The results? Unfortunately for brands, this update doesn’t seem to have done much to mitigate ad hijacking. There may be some short term reductions as ad hijackers have to update their campaigns to accommodate the new URL requirements—but most hijackers have probably taken these steps already.

In the long term, it’s unlikely that hijackers will be thwarted by the change. The upgrade appears to have been purely focused on the improvement of tracking URLs and ad uptime. To us, that underscores the need to be continually monitoring your affiliates and ensuring that they’re following your program’s rules.

Have you seen any changes in affiliate activity recently? How has your migration process gone? Let us know in the comments below!


Our Latest Report on Branded Keywords in Paid Search is OUT!

We’ve been crunching the numbers.  Well, technically Sam has been crunching the numbers…but either way we’re excited to make this announcement!

Today, we bring you the latest edition of our report on The State of Branded Keywords in Paid Search, covering our observations and findings from Q1 of 2015.

The report evaluates the paid search landscape on the core branded keywords of over 250 popular, consumer-facing brands from 10 different industry categories. (Yes. That’s 10 different industries and more than 250 different brands!)

BrandVerity monitored these core brand terms during Q1 of 2015 to evaluate trends in how brands are targeted in general and within their specific industry segments. The result is that we deduce trademark bidding can cost the typical brand tens of thousands of visitors to their sites per month.  Yikes, right?

The report is available as a free download on our site.  Check it out and learn a bit more about what advertisements appear on search engines when potential customers search for a certain brand.

And, let us know if you find this report useful.  Tell us what information you would like to see about brand and trademark bidding.  We’re all ears.  Comment below or contact us with any questions!


Microsoft Boots its Display Business and Takes Over AOL Search

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced they would be taking over AOL Search and shifting some parts of its advertising work onto both AOL and AppNexus, an online advertising company.

Bing will now power search and search advertising across the AOL portfolio of sites, which includes Huffington Post and TechCrunch to name a few.

AOL also will become Microsoft’s seller of all display formats—including mobile and video—across nine major markets (Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States).

Furthermore, AppNexus now becomes Bing’s exclusive programmatic technology and sales partner in ten of its European markets (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland).

One might be led to believe that this expanded partnership shows a more aggressive pursuit of access to advertisers in Europe.  And, that the closer ties with AOL (owned by Verizon) aids in their validation of Bing across more platforms.  Just sayin’.

We’re very curious to see how this changes what advertising appears on AOL. As we’ve seen in past iterations of our Report on the State of Branded Keywords, AOL typically shows far more trademark bidding than Google, despite pulling ads from the same search network. When it becomes powered by Bing, will it show the same amount of trademark bidding? Stay tuned.


Bitly/Viglink Partnership Raises FTC Concerns

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that here at BrandVerity, we’ve been thinking a lot lately about regulations and disclosures–particularly with regard to the FTC and its take on affiliate marketing. Today we’re happy to have a post by our own Mason Smith about a new, somewhat concerning development, in this field: Bitly’s announcement that they are testing a new partnership with VigLink. This news was a hot topic of conversation at AM Days a few weeks ago and we thought it would be of particular interest to our readers. Mason, take it away!

The recent announcement that Bitly is testing a partnership with VigLink presents interesting questions for companies with affiliate programs. For those who haven’t heard, Bitly is testing out a partnership with Viglink that transforms their shortened links into Viglink affiliate links. In other words, if someone shortens a link to an ecommerce site using Bitly, that shortened link is now an affiliate link. Any clicks on that Bitly link will be routed and monetized through Viglink’s platform.

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Major Changes to Bing-Yahoo Search Agreement

On April 16th, Bing and Yahoo announced a change to their longstanding search partnership.  Search Engine Land posted an immediate follow-up to the announcement with useful details and analysis, and followed up with an update last week that provided more information.

In short, the 2009 Bing-Yahoo deal that required Yahoo to serve Bing ads on desktop search (the fact that mobile wasn’t included was a loophole) has been modified such that 51% of the ads that Yahoo serves on desktop must be Bing ads. This change opens up the possibility for the rest of desktop search traffic (the other 49%) to come from other partners or from the Yahoo Gemini platform, which has been serving ads to Yahoo Mobile for the past year.

While it’s hard to say exactly what impact this will have on the kinds of ads that appear on Yahoo, it’s safe to say that the similarities in paid search on Yahoo and Bing—which we’ve noted in our Report on Branded Keywords—may soon diverge. We’ll monitor this development through the rest of the year and provide an update if we find substantial changes in the type and quality of ads appearing on Yahoo.

How do you think the the new Bing-Yahoo agreement will influence paid search? Let us know in the comments below or by contacting us at BrandVerity!


Bidding on Fear: The SuperFish Vulnerability and Paid Search

As you probably know by now, here at BrandVerity, we don’t have a lot of patience for malware and adware, particularly when advertisers bundle it with free versions of popular software. We were thus quite pleased when Google recently announced some changes to how they treat download sites in Paid Search.

But if we’re already lacking in patience for the download sites who target average web users, we have even less for sites that attempt to take advantage of already vulnerable users.

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Maintaining Brand Integrity: Highlights from My Presentation at AM Days

Since we’re still fresh off of a wonderful few days in San Francisco at AM Days, I wanted to take the opportunity to share the slides and recap the presentation I delivered at the event. I thought this could be a useful reference—whether you were able to attend the talk or not. For those of you that couldn’t be there, I’ve provided a synopsis of my points below (along with my slides). You can also feel free to connect with me over LinkedIn or send BrandVerity a note! Continue reading


Affiliate Ethics: Beware of this New Adware Platform

A lot of the time, detecting potential bad actors in the affiliate world can be hard: these guys are smart, and it’s in their best interest to hide (and hide well) from brands, affiliate managers, and honest affiliates.

But sometimes they come right to you.

We’ve been hearing recently that someone had been aggressively marketing an adware platform to numerous people in the affiliate industry–including, ironically, a lot of folks who work on the front lines of affiliate compliance and who have little patience for adware. Continue reading


Trends I Noticed at AM Days in San Francisco

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend my first ever Affiliate ManaAM-Days-Logogement Days conference in San Francisco. I was thrilled to be there—everything from the location (I don’t get to visit the bay area enough!) to the expert-level content created a positive atmosphere for networking and learning. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the experience, I wanted to share some of the key themes and moments that I remember. I hope this recap will prove useful for you—whether you were at the conference or not! Continue reading