Brands rethink search strategies as Google shifts trademark policy
- April 10, 2008
- by Simon Whittick
ISBA, the advertising trade body, said that the decision by Google to allow competitors to bid against trademark keywords within search results would be a setback for brands and that Google wasn’t going to be looked on favourably.
Bob Wootton, ISBA director of media and advertising, said he had been contacted by concerned brands, worried about the implications of competitors appearing against their own brand terms.
“There’s quite some agitation,” he said. “Google has been seen as one of the good guys in terms of working with brands, but now maybe it has become one of the bad guys.
“Search has traditionally been good for small, direct-response companies, but this may be a setback for digital media spend by major branded goods businesses,” he added.
UK brands and SEMs have suggested they may reconsider their search spend. Barclaycard senior online channel manager Chris Reynolds said that the company was considering its options.
“The change in Google’s trademark protection policy will undoubtedly increase cost-per-click charges for our own brand terms, so it requires a full rethink of our advertising strategy with Google,” he said. “It’s hard to see how users will benefit from pages cluttered with ads potentially irrelevant to their search.”
Google’s policy change now aligns itself with North America, where it has allowed competitor bids against trademarks since 2004.
David Kandasamy, US-based co-founder of global search agency SearchRev, said the policy change four years ago in the US and Canada has seen brand spend go up.
“Branded terms have ended up costing more as a result of more advertisers being allowed to bid against you,” he said. “Branded spend as a part of total spend has also gone up.”
Furthermore, although Google said that advertisers would still be prevented from using competitor trademark keywords within their ad copy, SEMs have said that an existing loophole could be exploited in order to get around this.
Google currently lets advertisers dynamically serve the search term in their ad copy, known as Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). But this is open for exploitation unless it changes its policy, according to Latitude CEO Richard Gregory.
“The term, including trademarks, can automatically be placed in the ad copy, so it completely gets round the keyword policy,” he said.
Google refused to comment about such a use of its DKI, but UK country director Matt Brittin suggested that the search giant would look more closely at the issue of competitor ad copy.
“We will monitor the use of brands’ trademarks within competitor ad text,” he said.
Will Cooper, NMA, 10th April 20080 Comments