fencers

Can you use your rival’s trademark in your online ads?

Appearing on the first page of your potential client’s Google search is crucial for any marketing department. So should you be adopting underhanded AdWords tactics to get more eyeballs on your site? 

One SEM hack is to use competitors’ trademarks in online ads in order to increase traffic to your site. Before you piggyback off your competitors’ marketing campaigns, you should find out what Google thinks about this approach. 

In summary, Google will restrict trademarks in the ad text. Unless you are a reseller or have an informative site. Although you’ll be given more freedom when it comes to keyword searches. This means you can optimise your keyword search in AdWords. By using your rival’s trademark so that when prospective clients search for your competitor you will appear alongside them. This will no doubt increase ad dollars for Google AdWords so it’s a win-win scenario for the search engine. So, it’s fine to use a competitors brand name as a keyword but stay clear of ad text.

Although the real question is: Should you use this approach to increase exposure for your marketing ads?

Is it a good idea to enter into a bidding war with your competitors?

key word search "wix" in google

Firstly, you need to do your research. Find out if your competitors are bidding on their brand name. If they aren’t, you can go ahead and write up as many campaigns as you’d like because with little to no competition you won’t need to spend a lot. However, if they are bidding on their keyword then your business will need to strategise. Bidding on a competitive keyword doesn’t come cheap, especially if you want to appear on the first page. 

SEO graph

Research shows that online traffic is dramatically reduced once you go past the first page. Even if you appear on the first page, studies show that organic searches receive a higher Click Through Rate (CTR) than paid searches. Even though Pay-Per-Click (PPC) boosts awareness by 80%, the CTR is low. 

ad spend

You not only have to worry about your spending but also your website content. Your competitor will obviously have more relevant content pertaining to the keyword so they might appear higher in the keyword search. You might also be at risk of getting a low AdWords quality score if you overdo it, SO BEWARE!

For example, Marks & Spencer learnt the hard way when it got sued by the flower delivery network Interflora for using “Interflora” in its ad text. M&S could have faced a hefty fine had they been found guilty. So it’s essential for businesses to find the right balance between respecting trademark rights and allowing for fair competition on the web.

Arguably, the most important question isn’t whether or not using this tactic is ethical (because all’s fair in marketing, right?) but whether it will lead to an increase in sales. The sad news is that there is no direct link between the two. You might want to adopt this approach as a short-term tactic but not as a long-term strategy. 

Those businesses looking to get on a tender list and compete with the big names might benefit from using this tactic. The extra brand awareness should help but it will come at a cost. So be ready to spend a lot on Google AdWords.

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