To customers looking at ads in a Search Engine Results Page (SERP), hijacked ads don’t look any different from regular ads.
Affiliate ad hijacking is when a party impersonates ads of a genuine brand by running ads to look identical to the genuine one. Customers may not have an idea they have clicked on an affiliate hijacked ad, and the ad hijacker is paid a commission for conversions that the genuine brand misses.
How does ad hijacking impact your brand?
Fall in brand revenue: Ad hijackers steal clicks and gain unearned commissions. Such ads eat into the profit margins of genuine brands. Brands lose money when competing with ad hijackers for conversions or sales from paid search. It also affects brand metrics such as impression share and ROI – measuring revenue attribution becomes impossible.
Channel conflict: When the ad hijacker and the brand are advertising targeting the same keywords, channel conflict arises. The search engines will only show one advertisement at one time with the same display URL. The ad hijacker and brand are competing against one another and increasing the genuine brand’s CPC. A genuine affiliate brings new business to the brand; an ad hijacker diverts existing business.
How does a brand know if its ads are hijacked?
Ad hijackers geo-target and daypart ads to make it almost impossible to find them. There are three indicators of ad hijacking:
1. A sudden increase in referral traffic and conversions from unknown and little-known brand affiliates.
2. Almost the same conversion rates for affiliates and branded paid search.
3. A decrease in metrics, such as impressions and clicks. Since the search engines limit showing multiple ads with the same display URL at the same time, the hijacking ad replaces the brand’s ads. This leads to a decline in impressions of the genuine brand’s ads.
If the affiliate hijacker is not a well-known site or the genuine brands do not have a relationship with them, take a closer looking at how the hijacker drives their traffic.
How to stop ad hijacking?
Make a detailed affiliate agreement to secure yourself against ad hijackers. Be sure to state all brand-bidding policies in agreements clearly, and the consequences are for violating agreement terms. Any party that engages in this type of immoral practice does not want to be discovered by the genuine brand.
Check for the above-mentioned indications to determine whether your brand is a victim. There are paid search monitoring tools that automatically crawl the web, finding infringements, and notifies the brand, hijacker, or search engine about the violation.