Google Announces Update to AdWords Trademark Policy In Australia

This week Google have announced a pretty significant policy update which has the potential to have a big impact within the online marketing landscape. According to the announcement from Google, The AdWords team will no longer be preventing advertisers from selecting a third party’s trademark as a keyword in ads targeting Australia (among other countries – see the link above for the full list).

What does this mean in plain English?

Basically this update to Google’s policy means that AdWords advertisers are no longer able to prevent competitors from bidding on their brand terms. For example, if Pepsi want to display on Google whenever a search for “coke” is made, there is now nothing stopping them from doing so, whereas previously Coke would have been able to file a trademark complaint with Google to have Pepsi prevented from displaying ads for this term.

But what about the use of trademark terms within ad text?

This update has left Google policy on the use of trademarks within ad text untouched – if an advertiser has submitted their trademark term to Google and requested that no other advertisers use the term within their ad text, then this will still be enforced by the Google team. This recent change is only specific to the use of trademarks as keywords.

What does this mean for me as an advertiser?

This could be a good or very bad change to Google’s policy depending on your situation. It means that you can now bid on your competitor’s brand terms, potentially leaching off their brand recognition and therefore effectively stealing traffic, but it also leaves the possibility of this being done to you by your competitors. This will almost certainly result in increased CPCs for your brand terms which could result in an increased CPA (‘Cost-Per-Acquisition’) for your campaign.

So do I need to make any immediate changes to my AdWords campaign?

If you haven’t already, my advice would be to separate your brand traffic from your other traffic by creating a brand-specific campaign within your AdWords account. This will allow you to closely monitor the CPC you’re paying for brand traffic. If you’re already ranking first for your brand terms in organic traffic & paying a high CPC in AdWords as well, it may be worth deleting or at least minimising your AdWords brand traffic. I’d also recommend keeping a close eye on the search results to see whether some of your competitors are bidding on your brand term – if they are, you might want to return the favour and bid on theirs!

not an actual search result

(the above image is not an actual search result, but could be.)

What are your thoughts on this policy update by Google? 


Posted on March 22, 2013 by



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