Insights

Google to Allow Use of Trademarks in AdWords Text Ads

05.20.2009 by

Google has announced a major shift in its policy on the use of trademarked names in paid search ad copy.  Beginning June 15th, advertisers will be allowed to use trademarked names in their ad text, with some restrictions. This change is causing concern among brand marketers.

In the past, Google has barred advertisers from using trademarked names in their ad copy unless they own the trademark or have permission from the trademark owner.  Many resellers, even those authorized by the trademark owner, could not satisfy Google’s demands for proving they had permission to use the trademark.  This prevented them from listing the brands they carry.

What does this change mean specifically?  A search today for “LCD monitors” triggers many ads from online retailers, but most of these ads do not mention brand names.  The ads make generic claims such as “low prices on brand names” and “many brands to choose from.”   Google’s new policy will allow retailers to list brand names in their ads - “We carry all brands of monitors — Samsung, Dell, Viewsonic, and more.”

Impact on Brands

Google’s change in policy has the potential to create serious consequences for brand marketers. Marketers who sell through both direct and reseller channels will need to increase their advertising spend as they will be bidding against resellers for their own brand names. They will need to bid higher to have their ads appear in a top 5 position.

This can also have a significant effect on brand image. Paid search advertisers will be able to position a brand based on their own strategies. Enabling others to control a brand can have serious consequences on the value of the brand, and can quickly erode its value.  How many exposures of an ad stating “Hermes Handbags – Cheap!” will it take before that prestigious brand image starts to decline?

How will Google’s changes affect your business?  Will you be competing with resellers? Do you risk of losing control of your brand?  We’d like to know.

Jim Auer
Jim leverages his proven skills in brand, campaign strategy, paid search, display, video, email, print, out-of-home, and broadcast advertising to benefit marquee client engagements in health care and life sciences.