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PlusNet's response to Google trademark rule changes

PlusNet's response to Google trademark rule changes

PlusNet's response to Google trademark rule changes

If you're anything like me, you'll use your browser's built-in Google search more than the address bar itself to find websites. The search engine is so pervasive (it's in my desktop browser, Nintendo Wii Internet channel and the iPhone I'd love to own) that 'googling' is often the easiest way. That's why this week's changes to Google's trademark rules are quite significant. Until 5th May, companies were not permitted to bid against trademarked terms. I commented on this story in the Financial Times a couple of weeks ago (requires free registration), and it's also been covered in The Times Business Section this weekend. Google's trademark rule changes effectively force every company to pay for advertisements as well being listed in natural search, or face losing clicks to competitors. Here's how it works: If you enter 'PlusNet' into Google, it made sense that you should be shown results that are relevant to your search. This is very different from searching for 'UK broadband' for example. New rules have changed all this, and it's all going to drive extra cash towards Google. Already other companies are starting to bid against PlusNet's terms. It's natural that we would want to be the top result - after all, you're searching for PlusNet, right? At PlusNet we chose to bid against our own name, but we weren't obliged to. Since May 5th, to flourish in a competitive market, we're going to have to start paying more to Google or risk being drowned-out by competitors with bigger budgets. Of course, we're able to bid against other trademark terms, but our competitors have much deeper pockets and currently pay up to £12 per click to Google for every click on the word 'broadband'. How else could this affect you? If you run a small business and use search engine marketing to promote your products then you face the same challenge. The risk grows the more successful you are, because your company name will become more of a target if it generates a high volume of searches. For example, if you run a small business of 3 flower shops across your region and generate lots of leads online, you could find that big national players are able to bid against your company name when previously they may not have been able to. If you generate a significant number of searches, it's a realistic scenario as there are lots of software tools that let search companies target the 'long tail' of related terms. It's like a competitor sticking a big billboard on the side of your corner store. What do you think?

  • Are you glad that there's now more opportunity for advertisers to target your search?
  • Or would you prefer to have search limited just to the subjects / companies you asked for?

I'd love to hear your opinions. Phil Sheard, Emarketing manager @ PlusNet Twitter me: philsheard

 

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9 Comments
Community Veteran
Hmm, just mention which links are £12 apiece and I'm sure a random collection of people could happily click-through on them... repeatedly... Smiley B.
Not applicable
I think maybe this misses the point, if I were searching online for cheesecake I would search for 'chessecake' not for a brand like Tesco's Cheesecake. On the other hand if I were searching for Tescos to find their website and Sainsburys turned up in the sponsored links I would ignore it and see Tesco at the top of the organic results. This is just companies believing too much in their brand and Google taking advantage. Plusnet is the top of the organic search listings for 'Plusnet' and that is all that you need to worry about. No need to waste advertising money on buying this keyword.
Grafter
Cheers David From my experience, some people go with the sponsored listings even though the company's website is top of the natural search results. One reason may be because you can't always choose the snippet that Google picks out for your site but you can control the words of the sponsored listing. The point I hoped to raise was that the inevitable result is that every company involved ends up paying more as a result of the change. The debate is whether this adds to the customer's experience of search (and from what you're saying is it doesn't) in return for the extra cash is brings in. Ultimately, businesses need to then build these costs into their overall picture which could impact more useful activities elsewhere, or filter to the customer in the shape of increased prices - I for one hope that this doesn't happen.
Grafter
As an example. Search for my company name "Original Organics" (it would be good if you didn't click on my sponsored link ;-)) http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=original+organics&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GBShockedfficial&client=firefox-a You'll notice a competitor of ours is also bidding for our name, and using our name as the Ad title too. To the unwitting visitor, they could well think that their link is us and click straight through. Most people don't know the significance of these top links (i.e. that they're paid for) in my experience. Indeed, we bid on their name also - but not with their name as the ad title :- http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=wiggly+wigglers&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GBShockedfficial&client=firefox-a
Grafter
Good illustration Liam - and another good point here. Google now allows companies to bid against trademark searches, but companies are still banned from using a trademark within the ad copy (as this is false advertising / passing off). If you're trademarked you can lodge a complaint; if you're not - do it!
Grafter
What about if the as said something like : "we think we're better than PlusNet". Do you know if that would be allowed?
Not applicable
this just frustrates me, and the fact that MS are now seemingly pulling out of the yahoo deal (and yahoo are seemingly getting into bed with google - to some extent) just gives google more of a license to do this kind of thing. more comeptition for google is needed to stop this getting out of hand - perhaps some of the "semantic web" search engines gearing up for release will provide some of the necessary competition.
Dabbler
Doesn't help in the wider world, but if you're wanting to use Google without the ads, try Scoogle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scroogle or http://www.scroogle.org/ Or you could Google for it Smiley
Not applicable
[...] Marketing: Martyn and Spence have continued onwards and upwards with their web designs for our business pages, whilst Chris has been readying this month’s newsletter. Phil spent more time on recruiting 3 new team members as well as writing a blog post. [...]