Google (NSDQ: GOOG) decided several months ago to allow advertisers to include brand names they did not own in the text of their ads. It appears to have been a popular decision. Search Monitor, which tracks the use of trademarked terms on search engines for its clients, runs some numbers and says that in the month since Google instituted its new policy, the use of trademarked names in search-ad-copy text has increased by triple digits in some categories, including electronics and health/beauty, across all major search engines (Yahoo and Microsoft had already permitted trademarks to be used in the text of their ads). It’s an attractive option for advertisers because it allows them to play up specific products they offer, rather than using generic terms in the body of their ads.
Google’s policy change also seems to have driven big increases in a different, albeit related scenario: the purchase of ads that appear when someone searches for a trademarked term. Google has been sued—and repeatedly accused of copyright infringement—for allowing that. Search Monitor’s Lori Weiman says in a column on Search Engine Land that there’s been a substantial increase in the purchase of “keyword sponsorships” (ads that usually show up at the top of results) for trademarked terms and speculates that Google’s move to allow trademarks in the text of ads also “encouraged” that practice.
For its part, Google hasn’t said much about how the policy change has impacted results. Asked about it last week during the company’s earnings call, Google SVP Jonathan Rosenberg said, “Generally we are seeing significant interest in that. I dont have any specific revenue numbers to offer you but you can certainly try some ads yourself and get a sense of how frequently it is being used.”
By Joseph Tartakoff