Including terms and conditions

It’s important to include detailed terms and conditions so your publishers can be completely clear about what they can and can’t do.  

This information should include details about how you’d like to be promoted, what type of sites are not accepted (if any), whether you have geo-targeting restrictions and your commission validation policy.  

The clearer you are in your T&Cs initially, the less disruption you’ll have to your programme in the long run. 

Most importantly, this helps to protect your brand on the internet from misrepresentation.  

The most common terms and conditions are as follows 


SEM (search engine marketing) publishers are able to send targeted traffic to your site via all the major search engines by buying traffic on your behalf using their own funds. These publishers have many years of experience in search engine marketing and have very probably promoted similar brands to you, and are therefore able to use their experience and send quality traffic to your site very quickly. They also have significant budgets which they invest on brands, undertaking all the risk of a pay per click campaign while only getting paid for conversions. If you are already undertaking in paid search activity, then it is best to speak to your network to discuss how these publishers can best promote you to maximise the traffic to your site.  

A keyword Policy enables you to allow, restrict or prohibit altogether publishers generating sales on their program via pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on search engines. There are 3 kinds of policies to undertake. 

OPEN Keyword Policy 

Publishers are allowed to bid on the brand name and any misspellings in order to rank on search engines, it is completely unrestricted. 

RESTRICTED Keyword Policy 

A restricted PPC policy is set when a brand would like to restrict specific keywords from being used in PPC campaigns by publishers, whether by direct or indirect linking. This is usually the brand name or any brand specific keywords or terms. A list of all restricted keywords (which usually includes brand name, misspellings and brand + generic terms) is needed. 

For example, if Webgains were a clothing brand running an affiliate programme, then this would be a restricted keyword policy for them:

webgains.co.uk, webgains.com, webgains codes, voucher codes, webgains, webgains promo code, www.webgains.com, www.webgains.co.uk, webgains, web gains, webgains voucher

CLOSED Keyword Policy

A closed policy prohibits PPC activity on a program altogether. 

A closed PPC policy is usually chosen when a brand manages their own PPC activity and doesn’t want publishers sending PPC traffic at all. When a brand selects this, it is still necessary to create an example list of restricted keywords (brand name + generic terms) for publishers.  

If you are not managing your PPC activity and you will like your publishers to bid on your brand name and any misspellings in order to rank higher on search engines, open PPC policy will be suitable for you and will help to increase your sales significantly.  

The advantages for having an open PPC Policy and letting the publishers do the PPC for you is that these publishers are specialized PPC publishers so they have extensive knowledge about doing PPC.  

The most important advantage however, is that when you are doing your own PPC you have to pay per click but if you would choose for an publisher partner to do your PPC for you, you would only pay them commission when there is a sale so it will be cost effective. 

Validation Policy 

It is important that an advertiser is paying for the sales that are confirmed for example a fashion retailer would not want to reward commissions for driving sales that have been partially or fully returned. Similarly, a hotelier would not want to pay for a room booking that hasn’t been consumed or the length of the booking has been reduced. The transactions should then be cancelled or adjusted on the network to reflect this.  

It is important to set a cancellation period long enough for you to have time to validate (approve or cancel) the transactions. Typically, most networks will set tracked transactions to auto approve after the transactions falls out of the cancellation policy therefore it is important to review your transactions on a regular basis.  

Typically, the cancelation period is dependent on your company’s refund / return period and how long you need to process a return (best practise 7 days longer than your returns policy).  

It is imperative that your publishers are aware of your cancellation policy so that they know when and what they are getting paid for. Validating your sales as quickly as possible allows your publishers to invest in your program and can incentive them to promote you over your competitors.   

Please also note that having a low cancellation rate is very important for publishers for long term partnerships. Apart from that, please bear in mind that a short recall period can help to attract publishers, as they will be paid more quickly.  

Brand Guidelines 

Your program’s terms and conditions should also include your brand guidelines. This should include: 

The types of content you do not want the brand associated with, sex, profanity, discrimination etc. 

Whether you allow publishers to create their own banners using images from your site or whether they can only use approved creative provided. 

Outlining your tone of voice, wording, phrasing tone of voice etc.