A while back, we wrote a post suggesting that Google serves up its own products over other brands in organic search. It’s pretty obvious – just type in words like “voice”, “images”, “maps” or even “plus” and Google assumes you’re looking for their products. How convenient.
Well, they’re at it again.
A story reported by TechCrunch’s Eric Schonfeld yesterday identified a “classy” move by Google, whereby they bid on the keyword “yelp” to serve up an ad which takes you to Zagat. On the surface, no big deal, right? Companies bid on other competitors’ names ALL THE TIME. The only rule is that you are not supposed to use a trademarked name in the actual ad itself (like it is here).
In fact, here is the official statement from Google, which says in part:
“Google recognizes the importance of trademarks. Our AdWords Terms and Conditions prohibit intellectual property infringement by advertisers. Advertisers are responsible for the keywords they choose to generate advertisements and the text that they choose to use in those advertisements.”
So how did this get through the Google AdWords filter? Clearly, this misleads the person searching for Yelp. If you’ve run a PPC campaign lately, it’s not all that hard to get a “your ad has been declined” message, prompting you to dig a little deeper to make sure you’re not using any trademarked words, or among other errors, doing any kind of “bait and switch” tactics.
Ah, well it gets better. It turns out Google actually purchased Zagat last month (Sept. 2011) for some $151 million. How convenient that this ad wasn’t “disapproved” by the Google catch-all filter. It is for this exact reason Google also had to take the stand in front of Congress last month.
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