Home  › Search › Paid Search

Trademark Issues With PPC? Ways to Take Back Your Brand

  |  August 26, 2011   |  Comments

Take control of your brand in PPC by submitting trademark forms to search engines, asking the company nicely to stop, and controlling your brand presence.

I see this situation every few months. A frantic call or email from a client who is shocked and dismayed that their competitor's PPC ad is showing up when they search for their trademark or brand. How did this happen and what to do?

First, don't panic. Second, let's assess the situation.

What if 'My Trademark Showed Up in Ad Copy on a PPC Ad?'

Let's assume your brand is trademarked. All major PPC ad platforms prohibit use of trademarks in ad copy. Therefore, it shouldn't be appearing in others' ads in search engines like Google or Bing, or in social ads like Facebook or LinkedIn. If it is, you can file a complaint with the ad platform and ask that it be investigated. Google's form includes a "Scope of Complaint - Advertisers Involved" where you can select to limit this complaint to specific ads or to all advertisers. If you select all advertisers, be sure to include your own AdWords account as an "Authorized Entity" or your own ads may be disapproved in the future.

Likewise, if you experience this on Bing/Yahoo, you can also file a complaint about use in a specific PPC ad. Microsoft will investigate a complaint about trademark infringement in the text of a search ad on Bing and Yahoo Search after it receives all required information via the form. One major point of difference is that Bing allows the fair use of trademarks in ad text, such as resellers, product reviews, dictionary use of a term, or comparative advertising.

Facebook also allows you to report Intellectual Property or Copyright Infringement from forms on its site.

If you discover this occurring in LinkedIn, it asks you to contact LinkedIn Customer Service.

What if 'My Competitor Is Bidding on My Trademarked Keyword so Ads Are Showing Up on Branded Searches?'

This scenario is a little trickier. Google allows advertisers to bid on trademarked keywords in the U.S., Canada, and many other countries, as long as they are not in the ad copy itself. Google's help section also lists countries where such keyword bidding is not allowed at all.

Bing and Yahoo will no longer investigate complaints about trademarks used as keywords. Therefore, in both of these paid search platforms, it's possible and likely a competitor could leverage your good name for their benefit.

There's always one other option: ask nicely. It's recommended to reach out to the violator and simply ask them to stop using your trademark in advertising. For example: "I was searching on Google this morning for our trademark term 'super fly sunglasses' and it appears that your ad is showing up on this keyword phrase. I am not sure if this is an accident or intentional, but I would like to ask that you remove this from your campaign and/or add 'super fly sunglasses' as a negative keyword. I hope you understand that this is a trademarked term and we are constantly fighting trademark infringers and simply want to protect our brand. I appreciate your acknowledgment of my concern and willingness to help with this. Thank you for your understanding."

Does the violator have to comply? No, but it never hurts to ask.

How to Take Control of Your Brand Back

If you encounter problems with your trademark being used in either PPC ad texts or keywords, you are likely in a competitive industry where your brand has value and people want that. You'll now need to stand out as the brand. Besides taking the action noted earlier, a few other simple tactics can help your ads stand out:

  • Brand owners should always bid on their own trademarks to be present for searches and to reinforce your brand's leadership.
  • Use of "official site" or "original" in your ad text sends the message your brand is the one and only and can help to differentiate yourself from lookalikes.
  • Include a clear display URL in the ad with your brand name, even if the core domain is not the brand name. Try using www.somedomain.com/brand if necessary.
  • Utilize Ad Sitelinks in Google with clear brand messaging to get an additional four links attached to your ad when it appears in the top positions.
  • Use of the trademark symbol ™ or copyright symbol ® in the ad title or ad text is allowed if the trademark is already registered for both Google and Bing.

Now that we've assessed the situation and have a solid direction, we can begin to calmly tackle each incident and take control of our brand in PPC.

The secret formula: submit trademark forms + ask nicely to stop + control brand presence = one happy brand.

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Raehsler

Lisa Raehsler is the founder and principal strategist at Big Click Co., an online advertising company and Google AdWords Certified Partner, specializing in strategy and management of SEM and PPC for search engines, display, retargeting, and social media ad campaigns. Lisa has led strategy on dozens of PPC accounts and puts her experience into practice every day as a thought leader in integrating clients' search campaigns with ecommerce websites, behavioral targeting strategies, and web analytics. She has participated extensively in the local interactive community, as well as at national search engine marketing conferences. Lisa's recent speaking engagements include SES, OMS, MIMA, HeroConf, and SMX conferences, as well as numerous private and public training engagements. As a columnist for ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, she writes on the topic of paid search. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRocksSEM.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Search newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Fort MillWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager to join the...
    • Online Marketing Coordinator
      Online Marketing Coordinator (NewMarket Health) - BaltimoreWant to learn marketing from the best minds in the business? NewMarket Health, a subsidiary...
    • Call Center Manager
      Call Center Manager (Common Sense Publishing) - Delray BeachWanted: Dynamic Call Center Manager with a Proven Track Record of Improving Response...