Have you ever stopped to think about how easy it is for a competitor to “legally” use your brand to redirect traffic to its own site?
First, search engines allow anyone, even your competitors, to show their ads to people searching for your brand – the online equivalent of competing retail stores on opposite sides of the street hanging banners about their latest and greatest sale to pull customers in off the street.
The second way for your online competitors to legally redirect traffic isn’t as clear cut. It involves use of your brand’s name in the text of an ad and is only allowed under certain circumstances, for example: an informational site or a verified third party comparison. Since uses of trademark in an ad and the content of the landing page are often subjective, search engines will give a green light in legally “grey” situations and we’ve seen many examples where the trademark use was approved by the search engine but was actually harmful to the brand.
It is these “grey situations” that require the brand owner to locate the ad and then submit a complaint to the relevant search engine to stop the ads from showing up.
You might be thinking: “No problem, I’ll search for my brand once in a while and find anyone violating my trademark.”
In actual practice, it’s not that easy.
For example, did you know that when you do a search on any popular search engine the results you see are actually based on your location? Now think about how you would search from multiple locations to catch violators. You could search from home, maybe a satellite office or even a local coffee shop when you travel to conferences around the country. Not only would that be quite a hassle, it would be ineffective as well.
When you stop and consider the technical challenges of monitoring for brand violations across dozens, or even hundreds of locations, it can be pretty daunting. Add to that the fact that advertisers, good or bad, have the ability to show their ads for only specific keywords during specific times of day, and you have a situation ripe for brand violators to slip through undetected.
To have any hope of catching paid search infringers you need to do hundreds of searches every day using a variety of keywords from multiple locations around the world.
Think about it like bass fishing – if you tried to catch bass in one spot on the lake, you might catch something that day if they are biting and if you are using the correct bait. Now what if, on the same day you could sit in hundreds of spots on the lake and use different types of bait … do you think you would have more success? You bet.
Let’s face it, at the end of the day, what you really care about is how your brand is being represented to the public and a big part of that brand protection equation is having the right tools in place to make sure you don’t miss anything.