Google to crack down on counterfeit goods ads

In a blog entry posted earlier this week, search giant Google unveiled three new improvements to help brands deal with counterfeits. First, Google vows to act on AdWords complaints for counterfeit goods within 24 hours. Google also said that it would improve the company's AdSense anti-counterfeit reviews and work more closely with brand owners to catch advertisers. Kent Walker, Senior Vice President and General Counsel reveals, “We will work more closely with brand owners to identify infringers and, when appropriate, expel them from the AdSense programme.” Finally, the company said that it has set up a new help center page to clarify their current policies against counterfeit goods as well as report complaints over various types of abuses.

Counterfeiting remains a difficult challenge, and while Google claims their systems are improving over time, the company continues to invest in anti-counterfeiting measures and devotes significant resources to prevent violations of ad policies. In fact, Google invested over $60 million last year alone, and, in the second half of 2010, more than 95 percent of accounts removed for counterfeits came down based on the company's own detection efforts. Google has also shut down approximately 50,000 AdWords accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods during this same time period.

Antoine Aubert, head of Google's policy team in Brussels sums it up by stating, “There's no silver bullet here. Instead, it's a cat-and-mouse game, where we are constantly working to improve our practices and tune our systems to keep out the bad guys”.  

Google’s actions illustrate that battling counterfeits online requires not only addressing traditional touch points, such as tackling the distribution of illegal goods, but also disrupting how scammers are promoting counterfeits. Shutting down the promotion of these activities and removing disreputable advertisers and their ads will not only improve the quality of paid search ads, but also direct consumers to where genuine products can be purchased.   Consequently, brand owners will be able to recapture Web traffic intended for their brands. The real impact of these new changes is still to be determined but this is certainly good news for brand owners. Google’s new measures won’t solve the proliferation of fake items sold online but they will help make websites peddling counterfeit goods less visible to online shoppers.

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Alison Simpson
With more than 13 years’ experience in the domain industry, Alison has managed all aspects of Corporate Domain Managem... More