On the 5th April 2008, Google introduced a highly controversial policy change removing trademark protection from brands. The same rule has been applied one month later also into UK.
What it have meant in practice
Prior to the decision, trademark holders could appeal to Google about ads driven by their brand names to have them removed.
The change heavily impacted the market, as everybody since that date has been able to place a paid search advertisement against a registered trademark.
By permitting the purchase of competitor keywords, Google opened up AdWords to a more aggressive bidding mechanism.
It is worth reminding that Google has not removed all brand protections in paid search. However, at the same time some well known brand that have decided to not invest in PPC, started to have some trouble, especially with their competitors.
Brand owners hideous by a competitor featuring in higher PPC position for their trademark had no choice but to bid for their own brands too.
This is because some pure brand-term keywords have been targeted so to hijack visitors to different web sites rather than the one belonging to the brand.
But ultimately this has placed competitors at a severe disadvantage because Google's quality score puts a high weighting on click-through rate - and clearly people searching for a brand are much more likely to click through to the listing from the brand rather than the competitors.
So, at the end the real winner has been Google winning the bid inflation game without even play but just counting the revenues.
Everything is going to change again … maybe
The Court of Justice of the European Union has been called for an important decision to make in the upcoming months about granting again keyword bidding over trademarked keywords.
So, going back to the previous mechanism or maintain the current one?
It's difficult saying which could be the best solution. I do personally believe that reverting the situation is like killing the competition.
However, at the same time I believe some urgent "amendments" are required on the Google bidding mechanism so to determine the maximum bid that brand owners may pay to appear at the begin of the list, at the same time granting
Which side are you on?