Google Adwords and Trademarked Names
Anyone who designs and manages Google Adwords campaigns knows just how important keywords are. Creative thinking and research can reveal cheaper, less competitive words. Over the course of a campaign these can make a budget go substantially further. However, if you broaden too widely you can end up with low conversions although your CTR can be very high. Basically money down the drain.
One strategy some companies employ is to bid on the names of famous people or trademarked names. In the European Union advertisers are able to bid on trademarked names but there are some important restrictions you need to be aware of. Nowhere is this highlighted more than in the recent legal case of Interflora V Marks & Spencer where the ruling was made in favour of Interflora . Who would have thought a keyword could result in a 5 year legal battle? But that’s exactly what happened.
Bidding on trademarked names is not allowed when it causes the searcher to be misled about who the advertiser is. Basically advertisers can’t give the impression they are another company. Imitation is not allowed.
Here’s how Marks and Spencer got into hot water. Marks and Spencer operates its own flower delivery service and uses Adwords to advertise the service. It chose to bid on the keyword ‘Interflora’ . From its perspective this makes sense. Interflora is the market leader and in its market a high volume keyword. However when searchers clicked ads after searching for ‘Interflora’ the judgement says they would have been under the impression the M&S flower delivery service was part of Interflora. Remember members of interflora trade under their own names rather than the umbrella brand name Interflora.
From Interflora’s perspective, the judgment ensures that when consumers click on ad in response to searching for Interflora , they click on one of the company’s ads and not those of a competitor. But the implications go further. It helps Interflora protect its reputation and that ultimately is more important.
Now what does this mean for your campaign? Don’t rely on Google to police your use of keywords. If you are using or plan to use trademarked names, ask yourself whether your ads are likely to mislead consumers. Not all ads will. But poor judgement could prove to be expensive.