7 simple ways to protect yourself from PPC trademark violations

April 20, 2017

Affiliate Managers, Agencies, Marketing Teams
trademark violations - the search monitor

trademark violations - the search monitorFor the past nine years, the Search Monitor has captured millions of PPC ads run on even more keywords, from search engines across the globe.  This perspective helps us identify trends to help our clients improve their ad campaigns.

Lately, our ad monitoring data has revealed an increase in the volume of trademark violations appearing in paid search. With more competition on non-branded terms, advertisers are looking at the high-converting branded keywords of industry leaders for easy clicks and high return-on-ad-spend.

While bidding on your competitor’s branded keywords is typically allowed by engines like Google, it is against the engines’ policies to use someone else’s brand in your ad copy. Advertisers who are vigilant about protecting their trademarks in paid search see an increase in clicks, a drop in CPCs (as competitors decrease), and an overall drop in campaign costs.

By how much? See what happened to clicks, CPCs, and campaign costs on branded keywords in this case study from Chacka Marketing and Avery Office Supplies.

To help you protect your valuable trademarks from the rise in PPC violations, The Search Monitor assembled this list of 7 tips our clients have used in brand protection. How many are you doing?

7 simple ways to protect yourself from PPC trademark violations

1. Ensure that your trademark is strong and not merely descriptive. The stronger the mark, the more defensible your argument will be if someone violates your trademark. If your mark is weak or a likely search phrase to find anyone who sells a product like yours, you will have a harder time convincing the search engines to help you and a harder time getting relief in the court system.

2. Maintain a top position on both the paid and organic sides of the search results for your brand terms. This should include the following types of terms:

  • Brand name
  • Slogans
  • Brand phrases, e.g., your brand paired with the products that you sell
  • Typos of your brand name
  • The URL of your brand name, e.g., www.brand.com and brand.com
  • Common typos of the URL of your brand name, e.g., ww.brand.com, brand.co, w.brand.com etc.

3. Use compelling messaging to convince consumers to click on you and not your competitors. Competitors showing up on your brand terms are there to steal your clicks and piggyback on your brand name. Competitors can not only  cause you to lose clicks, but also increase CPCs on your brand terms. Get familiar with the search engine policies, and be proactive in monitoring your brand terms. If you find a competitor who is using your name in ad copy text, be relentless in reporting these competitors to the search engines. If you can automate the reporting process, you should.

4. Ad frequency.  If your ad serving frequency is less than 100%, that means there will be times when a consumer searches for you, and doesn’t find your ads. So it is crucial to ensure that your ad serving frequency is as close to 100% as your budget can afford.

5. Stay on top of your affiliates. To protect your trademarks, you want to control your direct linking affiliates who may not be messaging the way you want them to. If an affiliate is direct linking, then sometimes the affiliate’s ad copy will be served, rather than yours. If you allow this activity, establish rules for your affiliates to follow in order to control the messaging. If not, you will need to set up ad monitoring to be alerted of any violations and take action immediately, notifying the affiliate to cease as soon as you discover a problem.

6. Work with your affiliates. Carefully select a group of trusted affiliates, and allow them to advertise on your brand terms. This technique can be a powerful cost-cutting tactic that can also increase clicks and boost sales while allowing your brand to better own the SERP. Note that you may need to restrict rank so that you are not out-ranked.

7. Utilize landing pages. Use a different URL, and create micro-sites for specific promotions or target markets. Then advertise these sites on your brand terms and/or optimize for SEO.

Knowledge is power. Many of these tactics will become second nature the more you use them.  Monitoring and reviewing weekly reports with screenshots showing how partners and competitors are advertising on your keywords can give you the information and you need to protect yourself from trademark violation.

Learn More About Trademark Monitoring and Brand Protection

Want to see how safe your trademarks are in paid search? Contact us, and we’ll show you how use compliance monitoring to protect your brand.

Request a Demo


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