Q and A: Can competitors use my company name in their AdWords ads?

QuestionHi Kalena

I have a question. I talked to my Google rep who once said that putting my company’s name in an ad violates Google’s terms. However, in another post on here, you seem to suggest bidding on a brand name is also a violation is that correct? I was under the assumption that was common practice. Is it not? If I could report that to Google, that is important information.

Dom

Hi Dom

I’m not sure if you are referring to your own ads or those created by your competitors, but putting your own company name in your ad is certainly not a violation, it’s encouraged, particularly if yours is a well known brand/name. If you follow this link about Use of Trademarks in AdWords, you’ll find an authorization form you can submit to be able to use your brand / trademark throughout your account.

Now use of your trademark by competitors is where things get complicated. It differs between region and differs again between ad text versus keyword bids. Google actually opened up trademark keyword bidding two years ago, however AdWord’s trademark policy is now dependent on the region your trademark is registered in and the region/s your billing account is located in. So here are the main regional trademark policies:

  1. In certain regions, Google allow some ads to show with a trademark in ad text if the ad is from a reseller or from an informational site. There is a separate trademark policy for resellers and informational sites.
  2. For regions that are NOT included under Google’s trademark policy for resellers and informational sites, if their investigation finds that the advertiser is using the trademark in ad text, Google will require the advertiser to remove the trademark and prevent them from using it in ad text in the future.
  3. In most regions covered by the Trademark policy (including UK, USA and Canada), Google will investigate ad text only. They will not disable keywords in response to a trademark complaint in these regions. Furthermore, their investigation will only affect ads served on or by Google rather than those served on partner sites.
  4. In EU and EFTA regions, Google does not prevent the selection of trademarks as keywords. However, in response to a complaint, they will do a limited investigation as to whether a keyword (in combination with particular ad text) is confusing as to the origin of the advertised goods and services.
  5. In some limited regions, Google may investigate the use of trademarks in ad text, in keywords, or in both ad text and keywords. These regions include: Australia / Brazil / China / Hong Kong / Macau / New Zealand / North Korea / South Korea / Taiwan

Because Australia and New Zealand are included in the above list (and these are the countries in which I operate), I have witnessed a few keyword trademark infringements and represented some clients who lodged complaints procedures based on this policy.

So the short answer is, unless they have your explicit permission, your competitors generally aren’t allowed to use your brand/name in their own ads, but if you’re located outside the limited regions mentioned above, they ARE allowed to bid on your brand/name as a keyword. But it’s not all bad news – it means that you are allowed to bid on their brand/name as well.

Hope this clarifies things!

Kalena

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Q and A: Which is more important, the number of clicks on each ad or the CTR of each ad?

QuestionHi Kalena

I have some questions about Google Adwords campaigns.

When evaluating ad performance in a Google Adwords campaign, which is more important: The actual number of clicks on each ad or the Click Through Rate (CTR) of each ad?

What is “% Served” and should we be paying attention to the “% Served” of our ads?

Finally, I read in the PPC101 reading material about Google’s “Average Position” but I’m a bit confused by this because the ads running in my campaign that have the lowest Average Position are not the ads that are performing the best. In fact, there seems to be no correlation between the ads that are performing best and their Average Position. The ads that are performing the best are not the ones with the lowest Average position. I don’t understand how to utilize this “Average position” if it’s not indicating how the ads are performing. So, I guess the question is: How should we utilize an ad’s “Average position” in the grand scheme of things?

Thank you,

Wendy

Hi Wendy

To answer your questions briefly:

1) The CTR and conversion rate are always the figures you should be looking at when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your ads. So ads that attract more clicks will have a high CTR, but this doesn’t mean much unless the clicks end up converting to customers / sign ups.

2) % served shows the rate each ad is served compared to other ads. So if one ad has 70% served against it, that means 70% of the time one of your ads is shown, it’s this one. The other ads make up the remaining 30% of ad displays. Google only show the best performing ads over time, so they will gradually phase out ads that don’t attract many clicks in favor of the ones with a higher CTR. That’s why the percentages seem much higher for some ads.

3) Average position relates to your ad position within the search results. So if your bid is high enough, your ad will appear in a higher average position. Ads that don’t perform well or don’t have a high enough bid rate on their trigger keywords will show in a lower average position. You don’t control this particular metric – it is controlled by your ad positions as determined by Google.

Hope this helps!

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Dumbass of the Week: Pay Per Click Advertisers

DuhIt’s been ages since we’ve had a Dumbass of the Week, but I saw something yesterday that prompted me to resurrect the title once more.

A staff member here sent me a screengrab from a Google search he had made and pointed out one of the Sponsored Links / AdWords ads at the top of the page (see screen grab below) . He had conducted a search for *cheap glasses new zealand* and Google displayed a range of organic and paid results on the SERP.

Here’s a screengrab of the original search page showing the top 3 sponsored results:

PPC-error2

When my colleague clicked on the 3rd Sponsored Link on the page, it took him to a 404 Error Page. Thinking that the URL was simply malformed and he could find what he needed from the home page, he stripped the tracking URL down to the top level domain and refreshed the page. Again, he was taken to a 404 Error Page.

At first I thought perhaps the site was offline temporarily or simply not loading in his browser so I asked him to send me the destination URL from the ad so I could try.

Because I have the Google Toolbar installed, when I tried to view the same broken link, instead of a standard 404 error, I received a Google error page stating: “Oops! This link appears to be broken. Did you mean: www.­lessforspecs.­co.­nz?”

Aha! Mystery solved. The advertiser Less for Specs had accidently used dot com in their destination URL instead of .co.nz. Turns out, the dot com site doesn’t even exist, which is probably for the best as they would have been paying to send traffic to their competitor’s site if it did.

Normally, the AdWords system detects malformed destination URLs and either doesn’t approve the ad or sends you an alert very quickly and pauses the ad for you. However, for whatever reason (perhaps the dot com site did exist at one point), the ad was allowed to go live.

An identical search today doesn’t trigger the same ad, so perhaps the problem is resolved. Maybe Google alerted them of the problem. Perhaps the mistake was made by a 3rd party agency managing the site’s PPC campaign. But who knows how many people clicked on the link and were taken to a 404 error page before it was fixed? Who knows how many dollars the mistake cost the advertiser in click costs in the meantime?

Now, I don’t mean to single out Less For Specs. I’ve seen similar errors in Pay Per Click ads by many companies over the years, heck, I’ve made them myself. But seeing this example reminded me that we should be taking more care with our PPC campaigns in order to get the best value for money out of them.

Here’s a list of common PREVENTABLE errors I’ve seen in PPC ads:

  • Malformed destination URLs.
  • Incorrect or misleading display URLs.
  • Destination URLs leading to a *this page is under construction* placeholder.
  • Forgetting to pause a PPC campaign during a scheduled site outage (I have to admit guilt on this one!)
  • Moving a domain but forgetting to redirect PPC landing pages.
  • Not knowing about an unscheduled site outage for 48 hours.
  • Spelling or grammatical errors within ads.
  • Sexist, racist or otherwise ignorant ad wording.

Yes, some PPC systems such as AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter have built in checks to prevent dumb user errors, but they’re not bullet proof. Dumbass happens. Just don’t let it happen to you.

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Clever Use of AdWords Lands Man Top Advertising Job

What’s a job at the top of your field worth to you?

To unemployed advertising executive Alec Brownstein, it was worth around USD 6. That’s what Alec paid Google AdWords to get the attention of New York’s top advertising agencies and score himself two job offers.

Alec decided he wanted a job at one of New York’s top ad agencies. But to get an interview via the regular channels could take months. So he decided to bypass normal job application procedures and appeal to the egos of the Creative Directors instead.

How did he do it? He set up PPC ads using Dynamic Keyword Insertion that would appear whenever one of the Creative Directors Googled themselves, otherwise known as a *vanity search*. So a Google search for Gerry Graf, David Droga, Tony Granger, Ian Reichenthal or Scott Vitrone would trigger Alec’s ad to appear.

The ad read:

Hey [Director's Name]
Googling yourself is a lot of fun.
Hiring me is fun, too.

A click on the ad led to Alec’s site and contact details. According to Brownstein, nobody was bidding on the names, so he was able to achieve the top ad slots for around 10 cents per click.

The result? Alec scored interviews with 4 out of the 5 Creative Directors and job offers from both Ian Reichenthal and Scott Vitrone of Y&R Advertising. He took one of the offers and now has a permament gig at Y&R New York.

Clever eh?

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Google Display Network to Showcase Media to Advertisers

Google has announced that all their non-search display advertising will be collectively called the Google Display Network from now on, replacing the existing Google Content Network.

The new network covers Google display ads on Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Google Finance, Blogger and other ad partner sites.

Google made the announcement on their Inside AdSense blog, claiming the move was to make their display media clearer to advertisers:

“The Google Display Network will comprise all of the sites where advertisers can buy ads through Google, including the over one million AdSense and DoubleClick Ad Exchange partners as well as YouTube and Google properties such as Google Finance, Gmail, Google Maps, and Blogger… The Google Display Network offers all ad formats – text, image, rich media, and video ads – enabling advertisers to unleash their creativity and engage visitors on your websites in various ways.”

If you’re an AdSense publisher you’re already part of the Google Display Network. No changes have been made to how AdSense works and no action is required by you to opt-in. However, if you use AdSense for search, your AdSense for search ad space won’t be part of the Google Display Network.

Advertisers will continue to be able to purchase ads on your search results pages in the same way they always have.

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