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Protecting your Trademarks in Paid Search

December 13th, 2011

Protecting your trademarks in the paid search channel is crucial to maximizing the value of your brand. Here is a total guide, with links, submitting trademark paperwork to the key engines plus strategies for dealing with affiliates and trademark bidding.

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Topics Covered in This Post:

• Why Safeguard Trademarks?

• Search Engine Policies on Trademarks

• What about Affiliates and My Trademarks?

• What to Do Next

Why Really should I Safeguard My Trademark?

Your trademarked names or brand names are the most valuable keywords in your paid search arsenal. As you create your organization, gain buyers, send out press releases, purchase media and acquire traffic – more and far more people will enter your brand name or URL into search engines to find you. These terms nearly often convert the greatest regardless of what your conversion metric is.

Because of this, your trademark can be under attack by competitors, uncontrolled affiliates and organizations illegally utilizing our goods (far more on this later). It is imperative that you comprehend your alternatives, recognize the threats and have a course of action to protect your brand.

Search Engine Policies on Trademarks

From the search engine organization standpoint, refereeing the use of trademarks is a challenging and thankless task. Everyone who has a trademark thinks that they are unique, lawyers get involved and search engine employees invest hours working by means of the issues protecting the rights of their advertising clients from illegitimate and illegal use of the trademark.

Further considerations from the engines contain regardless of whether the trademark violation is in the organic or sponsored region. If a person is improperly using your trademark and they show up in the organic location of the search engine results page (SERP) then you are out of luck from any recourse from the search engine businesses. If it shows up in the sponsored (paid) area of the SERP then you have some recourse.

There are also distinct procedures for whether or not your trademark is secured in the US, Canada, North America or Other. Most engines have a various procedure for Trademarks in distinct countries creating both the dilemma and the solution a lot more complicated.

Ideally for the Search Engines, they would stay neutral in the use of trademarks and basically collect the cash when men and women acquire a trademark and use a trademark. Nonetheless, in order to appease advertisers (aka trademark holders), the various engines have implemented diverse levels of trademark protection.

Google Trademark Policy:

Google is the most lazes-faire of the engines with regards to trademarks. It utilised to be permissible to get and use other people’s trademarks in the sponsored link region. Today’s rules assist in terms of

protecting the trademark holder, but don’t go as far as the other major search engines. Here are some of the rules:

-With the submission of the correct trademark paperwork (see link below), Google will block non-trademark owners from utilizing the trademark in the copy of the advertisement.

-A non-trademark owner can Purchase the trademarked keyword, but the editorial filtering will restrict the use of the trademark in the copy

– EXCEPT for the display URL.

-I personally locate this last bit concerning as testing has proven that the display URL is an critical part of the copy. I haven’t gotten a excellent answer on why the display URLis not included in the trademark protection. Much more specific data and the complaint form is available at: http://www.google.com/tm_complaint_adwords.html

Yahoo! Search Trademark Policy

Yahoo! has taken a stronger stand on trademark protection than Google which has also evolved over the years. You utilized to be able to acquire competitor terms as lengthy as you sent the site visitors to a comparison page of products or services. That allowance has been eliminated if you are a competing site. Here is what they do enable:

-If you are a retailer and are legitimately selling the trademarked excellent or service – you can get the trademark keyword and use in your copy.

-If you are a non-competitive internet site that is supplying comparison content, you are allowed to acquire and use the trademarked item.

In addition to trademark protection, Yahoo! delivers an additional level of complaints based on Copyrights Infringement and alse/Misleading Claims. We’ve had some success going right after web sites that are illegally using totally free software program to acquire credit card numbers and email addresses employing these complaints as the foundation. Far more specific info offered here: http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/legal/trademarks.php

MSN Trademark Protection Policy

The MSN policy is quite comparable to the Yahoo! policy. No getting of someone’s trademark unless it is one of the following situations:

-You are a retailer

-You have a legitimate data site

-You are clearly making use of the trademark in an ordinary dictionary manner (Kleenex for example)

Both Yahoo! and MSN are more lenient towards advertisers with trademarks and do not call for as rigorous paper trail as does Google.Here is the MSN policy link:http://advertising.microsoft.com/House/Post.aspx?pageid=708&ampAdv_Articleid=3216

What Do I Do About My Affiliates?

The choice to allow or not permit affiliates to purchase your trademarked key phrases in paid search is a challenging one. Here are the pro’s and con’s to permitting this:

Pro’s for letting affiliates buy trademarked/branded keywords:

-Increases the number of slots taken up by your brand on the brand search thus freezing out competitors (especially crucial in Google since competitors can still acquire the keyword without utilizing it in their copy)

-If structured properly, these high value keywords can be employed as a carrot to expand the non-branded keyword programs your affiliates are using to drive visitors/sales to your web site

-If, for some reason, your Seo efforts aren’t effective for your key phrases then you have far more options for end users to click on a placement that leads to your internet site.

Con’s for letting affiliates buy trademarked/branded key phrases:

-Affiliates care only about making funds and will do, say just about anything to minimize expenses and increase conversion – regardless of the reflection on your brand.

-Competitive affiliate bidding on branded keywords drives up the CPC of your branded terms growing the cost per action of that keyword category.

-Branded key phrases are “simple money” for affiliates and unless managed appropriately will only spend energy on these terms vs.expanding your overall program.There are 3 choices for working with affiliates with regards to branded keywords:

-Do not pay for any sales, service or leads generated from your branded keyword list. The trend in the business is to move more towards this position in order to minimize expenses and have much more control over the brand messaging.

-Give affiliates unfettered permission to use branded key phrases in their paid search programs. This will result in the most sales and the happiest affiliates, but at higher costs and risks to the brand.

-Establish a set of messaging and bid-cap rules for affiliates with regard to utilizing branded key phrases which includes:

1.The maximum price per click they are allowed to bid in the engines. This is a tough rule to monitor as none of the major engines give you precise data on what the affiliates max bid is. However, you can closely monitor your CPC for the category and make sure that you are in the #1 position. If your CPC for the #1 position goes over the max bid cap – you have reason to “talk” to the affiliates.

2.Stipulate a % of sales, leads, etc. that can come from branded keywords. Do this by using a unique linking URL for branded keywords by affiliate. This will let you see how significantly visitors/organization is being generated by each and every affiliate.

3.Have a clear list of do’s and don’ts with regards to the messaging and copy that can be used with the branded key phrases. Make positive to give the affiliates lots of examples of what they CAN say in conjunction with quite strict guidelines of loaded keywords, numbers,amounts, discounts, etc. that are off limits.

four.Set aside time on a normal basis to monitor the affiliates. Engage your leading affiliates to support monitor the rules as nicely so that you have far more eyes keeping the playing field level.

five.Have strict two strikes rules on your affiliates. You can give an affiliate (specifically a new one) 1 strike with regards to these rules. Second strike ought to be an immediate restriction of those key phrases and/or exclusion from the program. Do not waffle on this or your will get into problems of “fairness” with the broader affiliate group.

What to Do Next

1.Get the trademark documents from your (or your customers) legal department for as numerous countries as you have trademark rights for. These need to be in a PDF form that you can submit with the paperwork to the engines.

2.Decide what you are going to do with affiliates. If you submit trademark paperwork to the engines and do not give them an exclusion list for the affiliates – you will shut out your affiliates from the branded keywords inadvertently.

three.Assemble a list of “approved” affiliates/vendors that can use your trademarks. Get URLs, official email addresses and account numbers for every single engine for every approved affiliate/vendor to use your trademarks.

four.Alert your account managers for the different engines with regards to what you are performing so they can support. Several account managers can help smooth the flow of choice generating to get these rules in location more rapidly.

five.Pay a visit to the URLs listed above to submit trademark protection concerns. You can also see the URLs on the Brand Digital Resource page at http://www.branddigital.net/web-marketing and advertising-resources.htm

6.Persevere. This is not an simple or smooth procedure for everyone. Lots of questions will arise, lots of men and women can get involved and there wants to be lots of communication to all parties to be efficient.

7.Monitor, monitor, monitor. Just putting rules out there without a consistent vigilance to monitor is wasted energy. You have to set aside time and stay on leading of your terms and who is saying what with regards to them in paid search (and online for that matter – a different article).

8.Send this email to someone you care about and want to aid.

9.Send me feedback on what you liked/didn’t recognize about this problem. scott@branddigital.net.

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