New AdWords Trademark Policy: Who Wins? (Guestpost)

Tue 16 June 2009 10:30, Editors

New AdWords Trademark Policy: Who Wins? (Guestpost)

So today we kick of our unique series of guestposts on Searchcowboys! Here to open the series is Virginia Nussey. The first time I met Virginia Nussey was in New York. She was doing some great work on live blogging SES New York. We then had a great talk on her podcast SEM Synergy. She is one of the rising stars in the industry. She is US-based and will give us the US-angle on the new AdWords Trademark policy.

Virginia Nussey blogs about SEO, PPC, social media marketing, branding and online reputation management for search marketing company Bruce Clay, Inc. She also coordinates and co-hosts the weekly podcast with Bruce and the gang, SEM Synergy.

New AdWords Trademark Policy: Who Wins?

Google recently announced that, come June 4, the company would no longer investigate trademark infringement claims based on AdWords trademark bidding in 200 countries across the world. Previously in effect in the U.S., Canada, the UK and Ireland, European countries now subject to this policy include: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Faroe Islands, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and the Vatican. Not making the list are the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, three European countries that many SearchCowboys readers call home.

Regardless of which set of rules you're playing with, there are benefits and drawbacks of any policy. But what's the sum effect here? Would the majority of advertisers across the world be better off if allowed to bid on trademarked terms? Or would most advertisers be happy to keep things the way they were? Here are some pros and cons for advertisers working under Google's newly expanded trademark bidding guidelines.


The Pros

  • Google does not allow advertisers to include trademark terms within ad copy. So, the ability to have a competing ad display for brand-related queries may not have an effect on which ad a searcher clicks. Competition from ads that don't include the search term (in this case, the trademarked term) is neutralized since searchers are unlikely to click.
  • When a user searches for a trademarked term, for example, a brand name, odds are she has a good idea what she's looking for. An ad from a competitor may get a click from a researcher, but it's not as likely to get a conversion from an intent shopper.
  • Small- and medium-sized brands get a chance to increase their visibility. Whether or not their ads receive more clicks, name recognition for those smaller brands is likely to improve.
  • Research has shown that a synergistic effect occurs when a brand name appears in both paid and organic search results. Brands who see competitors bidding on trademarked terms will still receive the benefits of such synergy as competitors' ads lacking those terms will not diminish the effect.

The Cons

  • The most immediate result of the new policy will be a rise in bid costs. Advertisers may be forced to divert their paid search budgets into better performing channels.
  • If companies bid on competitors' trademarks, whatever benefit they receive may be negated by losses on their own trademark terms. The ROI on trademark bidding may end up as a wash.
  • If results for trademark-related searches are seen by searchers as irrelevant since they lack the queried terms, users may start believing that sponsored listings aren't worth their time.
  • With fewer users clicking on what are deemed irrelevant ads, an advertiser's quality score could go down.

Google's policy allowing trademark bidding has successfully worked in the U.S. and UK for some time. Of course, every advertiser's situation is different and brings with it unique challenges and advantages. If you're not subject to Google's new advertising policy, would you want to be? What pros and cons do you see as a result of the change? Can you make the new rules work for you?


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