There is a lot of talk about “Branded Links” recently. Also known as direct links, these are Affiliate tracking links that do not go through an Affiliate network’s tracking servers and redirects. Rather, the link is direct to the merchant utilizing added parameters to track and credit the sale accordingly. Here is an example of a branded or direct link URL:
It’s interesting how many merchants are starting to ask the question “Do you offer direct Affiliate links?” as one of the first orders of business when we begin talking about a possible partnership. The answer I give is no we don’t offer branded links, and if we did, it would be the Affiliate’s choice on whether they used them or not. I then go on to explain exactly why we don’t and why that’s not a good idea. In nutshell, building link popularity and pagerank is not the job of the Affiliate. Nor should it be. The Affiliate’s job is to send the merchant their qualified customers. There are many other techniques a merchant can use to build their backlink count.
Most merchants new to the game have an open ear so once I explain everything they look at the whole picture and start to think more reasonably about the Affiliate/merchant relationship. They have to figure out what they want. Do they want inbound links, or do they want sales volume from many highly productive and savvy online marketers.
There is quite a bit of discussion these days on this issue, as the big 3 networks, as they’re known, are all offering branded links. Here is a lively discussion at ABestWeb about just this:
Similarly, we’ve started to see cases in which the network and merchant have cut the Affiliate out altogether! Downtown Ecommerce Partners, an interactive services firm specializing in ecommerce consultancy, recently posted a great blog article about this. In many ways, it’s similar to networks using the selling point of Affiliate branded links to attract merchant business. They have it all wrong, though. Merchants go where the Affiliates are, not the other way around! Interested parties (Affiliates, namely) should have a look at this write up. Here is a quote:
The negative impact to our business is not the point. What is more relevant to the Affiliate Marketing Industry is the dynamic of the traditionally three way relationship. This dynamic is changing and Affiliates and Merchants will have to choose their partners wisely. The former “three-way” pie is rapidly consolidating to just two hands – the Affiliate Network (soon to be renamed as simple a “Network”) and the Merchant.
Read the full article: Affiliates Beware – You may be next
Let us know what you think..
Gary & AvantLink