The big talking point over the last week has been about Google’s decision to allow trademark bidding in the UK.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether allowing trademark bidding is a good or bad idea, I understand why Google would want to keep a good relationship with advertisers by preventing competitors bidding for their brand, like they did with Marks and Spencers in February. But from the perspective of an online retailer like Argos who previously had to sell products without being able to use trademarked terms such as iPod or Sony in their ad copy the new rule does make sense. Just imagine how difficult it would be to avoid using these terms in offline print advertising!
But despite what anyone else thinks it is Google’s policy, so whether advertisers and brands agree with this or not they will need consider the implications this has upon themselves or risk losing sales and traffic. The decision now lies with advertisers as to whether they choose to bid upon their competitors, but what can you do to protect your own brand?
You obviously should be ranking #1 organically for your brand name, but if in addition you can build the strength of your site so that it displays Google Sitelinks this is going to take up more valuable on-page real estate and distract users from clicking competitor ads.
Online Reputation Management
Online reputation management is possibly even more important now, if you can the control the top 10 natural listings with interesting content about your brand you can potentially reduce the clickthrough rates to competitors ads.
Bid for your own brand
If you didn’t previously bid on your own brand you probably should be now. As soon as you notice competitor ads appearing it’s important users find the brand they are looking for, clearly labelling the ad text as “Official Website” should also help to increase the CTR of your ad.
Set your own affiliate brand bidding rules
Affiliate websites generally don’t pay out on brand search referrals, this is because the likelihood of this leading to a sale is much higher. They now face the dilemma about how to deal with brand bidding on Google AdWords themselves, for example gadget website iwoot have taken an early step to announce they won’t payout on brand traffic.
Bid on your competitors
Many brands will take the stance “if their bidding on us, we’re going to bid on them!”. With the new rules there’s no reason you can’t do this, but perhaps if no-one is bidding on your brand you should be careful about who you annoy before bidding on popular brands as it may backfire.
So are you planning ahead for the trademark policy update? Are there any other strategies I’ve missed which can help a brand protect themselves or take advantage of the rule change?