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Why TM+ is the Cost-Effective Approach to Paid Search

Trademark Plus (TM+) is a term that gets thrown out often in affiliate marketing, but do you know what it means and how brands are successfully leveraging it in their programs? By working with Acceleration Partners to introduce a TM+ partner into your affiliate program, your brand can develop a mutually beneficial relationship that allows you to have control over copy, offer exclusive promo codes, and test on a safe payout model.


How Trademark Plus (TM+) works in affiliate

Trademark Plus (TM+) is when a company allows for select affiliate partner(s) to increase their traffic through search to their coupon pages, while bidding on a select group of branded terms that the company and their partnership marketing agency have decided on ahead of time.

The affiliate partner assumes the cost of those branded keywords, and in turn, the partner gets an elevated chance at earning the associated commissions, because they’re higher up on the search page.

For example:

Let’s say you were to type in “[brand name] coupon,” you might see an affiliate partner show up on the search results page. That partner is spending money to show up on the results page, and the reason they’re doing that is because they’ll ultimately get more commission from conversions, which will be higher than the cost they’re assuming from getting to bid on those branded terms.

In the affiliate space, this is called TM+. However, outside of affiliate marketing, it’s typically just referred to as paid search. What makes paid search different in this instance is the low-risk payout model.


Avoid the risk of rogue bidders, competitor bidding, and high costs

One risk of not adding TM+ to your brand’s affiliate program is having no way to combat rogue bidders (people who don’t have the rights to bid on your branded keywords but have decided it’s worth their money to still go ahead and do it). These rogue bidders are disrupting your user experience and stealing away valuable traffic from your site, which you aren’t going to see any return on.

You’ll also have some competitors in that space too. Paid search is not just about bidding on your own terms, but also on your competitor’s terms. By adding in a TM+ partner, it allows your brand to:

  • Ensure a better consumer journey
  • Establish copy you can control with your affiliate via your affiliate management agency
  • Remove competitors and rogue bidders from the top of the results page by raising the cost

The higher your brand and TM+ affiliate partners rank on the search results page, the better. Your affiliate partners will be highly motivated and incentivized to push those rogue bidders and competitors down because of their commission structure.

The last risk to not adding TM+ into your affiliate program is the missed opportunity of leveraging a way to cost-effectively do paid search. Cost-per-clicks (CPCs) are getting to be costly in this space, with no end in sight for their continued increase in price. By allowing an affiliate partner to assume those costs, your brand is offsetting some of that risk from your own internal return on ad spend (ROAS).


Common TM+ misconceptions

One common misconception about TM+ is that it only works for large retailers that are very promotional. However, as long as TM+ aligns with a brand’s internal marketing goals, it can be a good fit for any type of company. There are consistently new TM+ affiliates coming into the space who are bringing their unique value to what they can offer brands—regardless of brand size or reach.
Another misconception we often hear is the concern that TM+ will drive up a brand’s CPCs. This isn’t the case though—you can set large caps, make sure your brand’s secured in certain positions on the page, utilize multiple affiliate partners, and much more to ensure CPCs don’t go up. At the end of the day, brands that take advantage of TM+ are getting paid search exposure at a CPA payout model.


Increasing ROAS and brand exposure

If you look at the ROAS for affiliate marketing compared to other channels, affiliate is almost always going to be better. If you can find ways to increase that revenue, even if it’s bidding on certain branded terms, then there is almost no downside to investing in TM+.

Because of this, TM+ is an aspect of affiliate marketing that brands should seriously consider—even if it’s only part of their short-term strategy to test out whether it works for their brand.

Brands that include TM+ affiliate partners into their programs have also found they gain the ability to secure additional placements, which helps boost brand exposure.

TM+ campaigns often drive a significantly higher ROAS than organic partnerships. One Acceleration Partners client saw:

  • In Q4, TM+ partnerships generated a 10% CR and $99 ROAS, compared to ~5% CR and $82 ROAS for the program as a whole
  • TM+ traffic drove over $33.7M to the client’s program in Q4
  • In Q4, the client received $900K in media placements from partners in exchange for TM+ rights


Acceleration Partner’s unique approach to TM+ in affiliate

At Acceleration Partners, we not only have dedicated Trademark Plus/trademark bidding experts on-hand who are constantly looking for new opportunities, but also strong, existing relationships with a variety of TM+ affiliate partners. We truly understand the value of adding TM+ to an affiliate program, and from a broader perspective, how TM+ can benefit brands’ entire marketing strategy.

Our approach showcases that TM+ within affiliate can offset costs for brands in other channels. It can help lessen the burden off your brand’s SEO team/agency—in some capacity—and free up budget to test out other marketing strategies.

The holistic approach Acceleration Partners takes to partnership marketing, by not just viewing it on a channel-by-channel basis, enables us to creatively come up with ways to grow our clients overall revenue, leads, and other KPIs. The TM+ partners we choose to work with will be the best fit for your brand as a whole, and not just your affiliate program.