The Case Study

Increasing Revenue and Brand Control with Trademark Plus Affiliate Partnerships

Who Can Benefit from Trademark Bidding/Trademark Plus Affiliate Partnerships?
  • Companies in particularly competitive industries, including those that are highly seasonal.
  • Brands with a strong reseller presence.
  • Brands with limited budgets for search or affiliate.

The nine brands initially participating in our Trademark Bidding/Trademark Plus campaign trial realized impressive increases in their performance metrics:

1546% increase in return on ad spend

$7 million YoY revenue increase

$500,000+ in free exposure in the form of media subsidies in exchange for rights to bid on trademark terms.


For one client in particular, the Trademark Plus campaign that the Acceleration Partners' team implemented within their affiliate program allowed them to quickly quell a competitor's efforts to bid on their trademark terms and drive traffic away from their site during the busy Q4 holiday season. Because their Trademark Plus campaign was already in place, the client was able to promptly reach out to their approved Trademark Plus affiliate partners and they went into action to bid the competitor off the search engine results page.

Overall, by strategically leveraging affiliate partnerships, Acceleration Partners' customized approach to Trademark Bidding/Trademark Plus campaigns has helped brands solve a variety of notable pain points and realize unique advantages, including:

  • Increasing their real estate on search engine results pages.
  • Improving the brand's control over messaging and promotions.
  • Defensive coverage against competitive domains.
  • Gaining broader coverage in search engines with multiple parties covering more keywords.
  • Increasing engagement of affiliate partners.
  • Additional exposure with affiliate partners.
The Challenge

A number of Acceleration Partners' clients face two frustrating realities:

  1. Losing website traffic to competitors who bid on their branded keywords.
  2. Having their branded keywords hijacked by rogue bidders (websites or affiliates not part of their affiliate program) and other undesirable domains. These rogue bidders then promote offers that our clients do not want promoted and drive up their cost per click.
Our Approach

Strategic Affiliate Partnerships

What is Trademark Bidding?

In affiliate marketing, Trademark Bidding is an overarching strategy. It's when a brand partners with select affiliates within their affiliate program and allows them to bid on their branded search terms as a way to prevent their competitors from doing so – or at least minimize the impact.

For example, an advertiser might allow their select affiliate partners to run paid search ads using the advertiser's brand name, or a variation thereof.

What is Trademark Plus (TM+)?

"Trademark Plus" (TM+) is a way to execute a Trademark Bidding strategy. With trademark plus, a brand's name is used plus another keyword. For example, an advertiser might allow select affiliate partners to run a paid search ad that includes the advertiser's brand name + "review" or brand name + "coupon."

After learning more about the various competitor/rogue website bidding challenges our clients were facing, our in-house search expert aligned with our affiliate program management team to come up with a unique strategy for leveraging their affiliate partners to help eliminate—or at least drastically reduce—how often their competitors showed up in search results when their branded keywords were used.

Although allowing select affiliate partners to bid on branded keyword terms was an unfamiliar approach for our clients (most prohibit this in their affiliate program terms and conditions), many clients were enthusiastic about testing this Trademark Bidding strategy with select affiliate partners to assess performance.

After a thorough analysis to identify clients that would likely realize the most value from Trademark Bidding/Trademark Plus within their affiliate program, nine clients were selected to participate in a test campaign.

Each client had different goals they were looking to reach and different pain points they were wanting their Trademark Bidding or Trademark Plus campaigns to help them address. Some wanted to drive business directly to their website or through their affiliate partners, as supposed to a reseller. Others wanted to protect themselves from being outbid by a competitor. And some clients with a more limited budget wanted to cost-effectively raise their brand awareness.

After gaining a clear understanding of the individual needs, pain points and affiliate partnerships of the nine clients participating in the test, the Acceleration Partners' team, led by our in-house paid search expert, developed a customized Trademark Bidding/Trademark Plus strategy for them based on their specific goals, concerns and budget. This included:

  • Conscientious selection of affiliate partners.
  • Strategic partnership and placement agreements.
  • Careful and explicit selection of keyword terms their affiliate partners could bid on.
  • Clear, customized parameters that the affiliate partners participating in these Trademark Bidding campaigns needed to adhere to.

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