Article: Making Sense of Trademarks in AdWords

The issue of trademark usage in Google AdWords ad text and keyword bidding was raised on this blog recently thanks to a question submitted by Dom.

As I discovered when I resarched the topic for Dom, AdWords trademark usage rules are different for advertisers in different countries and they differ also based on the use of trademarks in ad text and bid keywords. The subject proved so complex that I decided to write an article about it in order to clarify the issue for confused advertisers.

Coincidently, a landmark case about this very issue was playing out here in Australia while I was writing the article and the Federal court made their decision just in time for me to add the outcome to the article.

The article is called Making Sense of Trademarks in AdWords and was published today by SiteProNews.

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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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A Short History of the Search Industry

Short history of the search industryIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably gathered by now that the search industry moves at a blistering pace.

Search industry heavyweights like Google, Yahoo! and Bing are constantly jostling for position to be the most popular search destination, have the largest search database, have the most relevant results and grab the most market share.  As is typical for such a heated industry, it’s in a constant state of flux.

Since I joined the industry in 1996, I’ve watched search companies make deals, break partnerships, launch products, copy technology, sue each other or simply buy each other outright. Even if you live and breathe search, it’s hard to keep up to speed with what’s going on, so it’s not suprising that newcomers to the industry can be completely overwhelmed!

While writing new content for our Search Engine Optimization courses at Search Engine College, I thought it might be fun to put together a bullet point history of the major events over the past 10+ years to help students make sense of this crazy industry. So here it is:


A Short History of the Search Industry

  • Feb 1994 – Stanford University Electrical Engineering graduates Jerry Yang and David Filo founded a website called “David and Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web” which was later renamed Yahoo!
  • 1995 – AltaVista, the first search engine to use a multi-threaded crawler (Scooter), was launched by researchers at Digital Equipment Corporation’s Western Research Laboratory.
  • March 1995 – Yahoo! became officially incorporated.
  • August 1995 – The Microsoft Network (later rebranded as MSN) debuted as an online service and Internet service provider to coincide with the release of the Windows 95 operating system.
  • 1996 – Stanford University Computer Science graduates Larry Page and Sergey Brin began collaborating on a search engine called BackRub.
  • 1997 – Page and Brin rebranded BackRub as Google. See the original Google Home Page.
  • 1995 – The web portal Go.com was first launched by entrepreneur Jeff Gold.
  • 1995 – Inktomi Corporation was founded by UC Berkeley professor Eric Brewer and graduate student Paul Gauthier based on the success of the search engine they developed at the university.
  • 1998 – Infoseek was merged into the Go.com network.
  • 1998 – Go.com was acquired by the Walt Disney Company and redeveloped into The Go Network portal using Infoseek search technology.
  • 1998 – The MSN.com domain name was reinvented as an Internet portal, putting MSN Search in direct competition with search sites such as Yahoo! and the Go Network.
  • Feb 1998 – GoTo.com became the first company to successfully provide a pay-for-placement search service (a pre-cursor to today’s PPC programs).
  • Sep 1998 – Google Inc. became incorporated as a private company and began operating out of a home garage in California.
  • Feb 1999 – MSN Search launched a revised search engine which displayed listings from Looksmart blended with results from Inktomi.
  • Jun 2000 – Google became the official search results provider for Yahoo!
  • Jun 2000 – Google reached 1 billion pages indexed, becoming the world’s largest search engine.
  • Oct 2000 – Google launched the AdWords self-service ad program in direct competition to GoTo.com.
  • Jan 2001 – Disney announced that it would be closing Go.com, its search engine and its volunteer-edited directory, prompting the creation of offshoot directories like JoeAnt, Goguides.org and Skaffe.com.
  • Mar 2001 – Go.com rebranded as GoTo.com and switched over to providing search results from paid listings service GoTo.com, with non-paid results from parent company Inktomi.
  • Oct 2001 – GoTo.com rebranded as Overture Services Inc.
  • Dec 2001 – Google reached 3 billion pages indexed.
  • Sep 2002 – Google News is launched.
  • 2002-2003 – Google became king of the search engines and the most popular search destination with worldwide Internet users, wrenching market share away from Yahoo.
  • Feb 2003 – Yahoo purchased the Inktomi search index.
  • Feb 2003 – Google acquired the Blogger brand from Pyra Labs.
  • Feb 2003 – Google was named Brand of the Year for 2002.
  • Mar 2003 – Google launched AdSense.
  • Apr 2003 – Pay-Per-Click provider Overture bought search engine Alta-Vista.
  • Apr 2003 – Overture purchased search engine AllTheWeb from FAST Search.
  • Jun 2003 – FAST Search purchased AltaVista Enterprise Search from Overture.
  • June 2003 – Microsoft announced their intention to build their own search engine.
  • Jul 2003 – Yahoo purchased Overture (including AltaVista and AllTheWeb).
  • Oct 2003 – LookSmart lost their MSN distribution partnership.
  • Nov 2003 – Google rolled out a major algorithmic update across data-centers, nicknamed *Florida* because of the hurricane-like impact it had on the SEO of many web sites.
  • Jan 2004 – Pay-Per-Click providers FindWhat and eSpotting merged.
  • Jan 2004 – Yahoo launched Yahoo Research Labs.
  • Feb 2004 – Google expanded their web index to over 6 billion documents.
  • Feb 2004 – Yahoo dropped Google results and launched their own search crawler.
  • Mar 2004 – AskJeeves purchased Excite.
  • Apr 2004 – Google announced an Initial Public Offering (IPO).
  • Apr 2004 – Google launched Gmail.
  • Apr 2004 – Google purchased Picasa.
  • Jun 2004 – Overture (Yahoo) launched Local Sponsored Search
  • Aug 2004 – Google and Yahoo resolved their patent disputes.
  • Aug 2004 – Google rolled out their Initial Public Offering (IPO), listing on the stock exchange and becoming a public company.
  • Sep 2004 – MSN launched MSN Music.
  • Oct 2004 – Yahoo launched mobile search.
  • Oct 2004 – Google launched Desktop Search
  • Oct 2004 – Yahoo unveiled personal search.
  • Nov 2004 – Microsoft upgraded MSN Search to provide its own self-built search engine results, codenamed Longhorn.
  • Nov 2004 – Overture (Yahoo) extended sponsored search relationship with MSN until 2006.
  • Dec 2004 – MSN launched the MSN Spaces blogging service.
  • Jan 2005 – Yahoo launched Yahoo Desktop Search.
  • Jan 2005 – Google launched AdWords API.
  • Jan 2005 – Google launched Google Video.
  • Feb 2005 – Yahoo launched Yahoo Music.
  • Feb 2005 – Google added Movie Search.
  • Feb 2005 – Google moved Google Local to their home page.
  • Mar 2005 – Yahoo launched Yahoo Search Developer Network.
  • Mar 2005 – Yahoo re-branded Overture as Yahoo Search Marketing.
  • Mar 2005 – MSN launched the MSN adCenter online advertising platform.
  • Mar 2005 – Google purchased Urchin Stats.
  • Apr 2005 – Yahoo launched Personal Search.
  • Apr 2005 – Google launched My Search History.
  • Apr 2005 – Google launched Site Targeting in AdWords.
  • Apr 2005 – Google launched Google Advertising Professionals program.
  • May 2005 – MSN launched MSN China.
  • May 2005 – Google launched Toolbar 3.0.
  • May 2005 – Google launched AdSense for Feeds.
  • June 2005 – Google launched Google Maps.
  • Jun 2005 – Google launched Google Sitemaps.
  • Jun 2005 – Google launched Mobile Web Search.
  • Jun 2005 – Google added Personalized Search.
  • Jun 2005 – Yahoo settles click fraud class action suit with Checkmate Strategic Group.
  • Jun 2005 – Google released Google Earth.
  • Jul 2005 – Yahoo revamped their home page.
  • Jul 2005 – Google announced China office.
  • Aug 2005 – Google launched Google Talk.
  • Aug 2005 – Yahoo launched Audio Search.
  • Sep 2005 – Google launched Blog Search.
  • Sep 2005 – Google announces partnership with NASA.
  • Oct 2005 – Google launched Google Reader.
  • Oct 2005 – Google merged Google Local and Google Maps.
  • Nov 2005 – Google launched Google Base.
  • Nov 2005 – Yahoo launched a mapping service.
  • Nov 2005 – Google launched Google Analytics.
  • Nov 2005 – Google launched Froogle Local.
  • Nov 2005 – Google launched AdSense OnSite Advertiser Sign Up.
  • Dec 2005 – Google re-vamped and re-launched Book Search.
  • Dec 2005 – Yahoo launched Yahoo Answers.
  • Dec 2005 – Google and AOL announced global advertising partnership.
  • Dec 2005 – Google created Music Onebox Search.
  • Jan 2006 – Google launched the Google Video Store.
  • Jan 2006 – Google News comes out of BETA.
  • Jan 2006 – Google releases new version of Google Toolbar
  • Jan 2006 – Google released Google Pack.
  • Feb 2006 – Yahoo re-launched Yahoo Music.
  • Mar 2006 – Google launched AdWords Local Business Ads.
  • Mar 2006 – The first public beta of Windows Live Search was unveiled by Microsoft.
  • May 2006 – Yahoo re-designed Yahoo Search Marketing.
  • May 2006 – Google launched the Google Co-op.
  • May 2006 – Google launched Google Desktop 4.
  • May 2006 – Google launched Google Notebook.
  • May 2006 – Google launched video ads on Google AdWords.
  • May 2006 – Yahoo re-vamped their home page.
  • May 2006 – Yahoo announced strategic partnership with eBay.
  • Jun 2006 – Google launched Google Spreadsheets.
  • Jun 2006 – Google introduced Ad Scheduling for Google AdWords.
  • Jun 2006 – Google combined Google Analytics with Google AdWords reporting.
  • Jun 2006 – Google launched Google Checkout.
  • Jul 2006 – Google launched Google Maps for Mobiles.
  • Aug 2006 – Yahoo re-branded Yahoo Music to Yahoo Music Jukebox.
  • Aug 2006 – Yahoo signed mobile search advertising deal with go2
  • Sep 2006 – Google News introduced Archive Search.
  • Sep 2006 – Windows Live Search officially replaced MSN Search.
  • Oct 2006 – Google launched Google Docs and Spreadsheets.
  • Oct 2006 – Google launched AdWords Website Optimizer BETA.
  • Nov 2006 – Google acquired YouTube.
  • Nov 2006 – Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft announced joint support for the Sitemaps Protocol.
  • Dec 2006 – Google added new features to Google Toolbar for Firefox.
  • Dec 2006 – Yahoo launched the Yahoo Search Marketing PPC service to directly compete with AdWords.
  • Dec 2006 – Google launched Google Patent Search.
  • Jan 2007 – Google launched mobile search in China.
  • Jan 2007 – Yahoo launched Internet Search for Mobile.
  • Feb 2007 – Google made Gmail available to the general public.
  • Mar 2007 – Windows Live Search was rebranded to Live Search.
  • Mar 2007 – Google launched AdWords Pay Per Action BETA.
  • Mar 2007 – Yahoo launched Yahoo Go for Mobile.
  • Apr 2007 – Opera named Yahoo exclusive partner for mobile search.
  • Apr 2007 – Yahoo and Comcast announced advertising partnership.
  • Apr 2007 – Google announced acquisition of DoubleClick.
  • May 2007 – Google launched a new version of Google Analytics.
  • May 2007 – Google launched Universal Search model.
  • Jun 2007 – Google acquired FeedBurner.
  • Jun 2007 – Microsoft launched MSN Mobile.
  • Jun 2007 – Yahoo launched Search Marketing APIs.
  • Jul 2007 – Yahoo acquired Right Media.
  • Aug 2007 – Yahoo re-launched Yahoo Mail.
  • Sep 2007 – Google launched AdSense for Mobile.
  • Sep 2007 – Microsoft launched MSN Video.
  • Oct 2007 – Google launched video units for AdSense.
  • Oct 2007 – Yahoo re-launched Yahoo Search.
  • Nov 2007 – Google launched OpenSocial.
  • Nov 2007 – Yahoo and Adobe announced advertising program for PDF publishers.
  • Dec 2007 – FTC cleared Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick.
  • Dec 2007 – Yahoo and CNBC announced a global distribution agreement.
  • Feb 2008 – Google launched Google Sites.
  • Feb 2008 – Microsoft made a bid to purchase Yahoo for 45 billion.
  • Feb 2008 – Yahoo officially rejected Microsoft’s acquisition offer.
  • Feb 2008 – Yahoo launched Yahoo Buzz.
  • Mar 2008 – Google completed acquisition of DoubleClick.
  • Jun 2008 – Microsoft and Yahoo ended acquisition negotiations.
  • Jun 2008 – Yahoo started using Google ads in US & Canada.
  • Jul 2008 – Yahoo rejected new Microsoft acquisition proposal.
  • Sep 2008 – Google launched Chrome, a new open source browser.
  • May 2009 – Google launched Google Wave.
  • May 2009 – Microsoft re-branded Live Search as Bing.
  • May 2009 – Microsoft launched MSN City Guides featuring Bing Maps.
  • Jul 2009 – Microsoft and Yahoo announced major search and advertising partnership.
  • Jul 2009 – Google announced the launch of their own operating system – the Google Chrome OS.
  • Oct 2009 – Google launched Social Search.
  • Oct 2009 – Google announced partnership with Twitter to include their updates in search results.
  • Dec 2009 – Google redesigned their home page for the first time in many years.
  • Dec 2009 – Google Real Time Search went live.
  • Jan 2010 – Google entered the retail market by launching their own mobile device – the Nexus One.
  • Feb 2010 – Google launched their social network Buzz.
  • Feb 2010 – Microsoft and Yahoo announced the impending implementation of their Search Alliance.
  • Feb 2010 – Yahoo partnered with Twitter to integrate content and enhance social search experience.
  • Apr 2010 – Google Real-Time Search was enhanced with Twitter content.
  • Apr 2010 – Google Local Business Center was renamed Google Places.
  • May 2010 – Google rolled out a completely new look for SERPs and an algorithm update later nicknamed *MayDay*.
  • Jun 2010 – Launch of Google’s new search index Caffeine provided 50 percent fresher results than previous index.
  • Jun 2010 – Yahoo announced a partnership with Facebook to integrate their content into Yahoo Search results and allow users to link their accounts.
  • Aug 2010 – Google announced discontinuation of Google Wave.
  • Sep 2010 – Google Instant is launched, with predictive search results appearing as you type.
  • Oct 2010 – Google launched Place Search functionality that helps you find local information by organizing websites around real world places.
  • Oct 2010 – Yahoo rolled out new interactive features in their search results including rich content and multimedia search.
  • Oct 2010 – Bing became the 4th largest search engine on the web by query volume.
  • Oct 2010 – Yahoo Search Marketing PPC accounts were transitioned to Microsoft adCenter accounts, combining the services into a single brand.
  • Oct 2010 – Bing announced partnership with Facebook, integrating more social signals into search results.
  • Nov 2010 – Google added local product availability to Google Place Search.
  • Nov 2010 – Bing launched Movie Search.
  • Nov 2010 – Yahoo launched new social and local search features, including Twitter integration and local Search apps within Yahoo search results pages.
  • Nov 2010 – Google rolled out a new interface for Google AdSense.
  • Nov 2010 – Yahoo launched the Yahoo Contributor Network.
  • Dec 2010 – Yahoo announced they would be shutting down Del.icio.us, Altavista, MyBlogLog, Yahoo! Bookmarks, Yahoo! Picks and Yahoo! Buzz.

Wow. I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning. I know it’s not the most exciting way to present the data, but I’m working on a bells and whistles version for the new year.

I’ll keep this search industry timeline updated with major activities taking place, so make sure you bookmark it now.

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Q and A: How do I remove lies and false accusations about me on Google?

QuestionDear Kalena…

How do I remove lies, and false accusations about me on Google? Please help!

Rudy

Dear Rudy

Google provide the following support articles that may help: Remove information from Google: Remove a page or site from Google’s search results and if the information is of a personal nature, you may also find this useful: Personal information in search results.

Google’s job as a search engine is to find, sort and categorize information. They can only index what they find, so my first suggestion would be to try and avoid doing things or annoying people which could inspire them to create false information in the first place. Sometimes this is easier said than done, in which case, you should really go after the source of the information and not Google. Try contacting the website owners who are publishing the false information and ask them to stop (either politely or by threatening legal action).

You could also try and make the lies and false information work in your favor. Respond intelligently and politely explaining how the information could have been misconstrued and then provide the readers with the correct info.

If this isn’t possible, then the next thing you can do is create favorable information about yourself on various third party websites. Setup social media profiles on all the major networks, offer to guest blog, distribute articles and press releases about you and your company etc. Then build links to promote these third party sites. If done well, this can outrank the negative information about you.

Hope this helps!

Cheers

Peter Newsome
SiteMost SEO Services

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Pedestrian Hit By Car Blames Google Maps, Sues Google

A female pedestrian has filed suit against Google (PDF link) after she was hit by a car in Utah while following Google Maps directions on her mobile phone.

The Californian woman, Lauren Rosenberg, was following directions to Park City Utah on Google Maps, that eventually led her to a four lane street without a sidewalk on her side. Although it was pitch black, Ms Rosenberg believed she could reach the snow-packed sidewalk on the other side of the street and tried to cross. Before she even reached the median, she was struck by a speeding car and received multiple fractures, requiring her hospitalization and weeks of intensive rehabilitation.

Ms Rosenberg is suing Google for the cost of her medical bills (totalling over $100K), plus loss of earnings and punitive damages. She is also suing the driver of the car that hit her. Ms Rosenberg and her lawyer Allen Young allege that the search giant failed to supply adequate warnings to pedestrians and instead supplied unsafe walking directions.

It’s unclear yet what sort of case Ms Rosenberg will have against Google, but it’s interesting to note that Google’s walking directions are still in BETA and pedestrian warnings are apparently not visible on cell phones or PDAs, only on the desktop versions of Google Maps.

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