Google has recently announced changes to their Adword trademark policy in South Africa allowing companies to bid for trademarks and brand keywords that they do not own. These changes bring the policy in South Africa more in line with Google’s pay per click (PPC) trademark policies in North America and the United Kingdom.
It should be noted that Google's trademark policy does not apply to search results, only to sponsored links. This new trademark ruling does not allow for the use of branded or trademark text within the actual ad copy, it merely allows competitors to bid on trademarks and brand names in their keywords.
What does this change mean for advertisers in South Africa? Essentially the implication is that trademark owners will no longer enjoy a monopoly on those key words. In the past, Google would investigate complaints about bidding on keywords which were trademarked, but no more.
What do these changes mean for search engine marketing as a whole?
The implications for online marketers are many. For a start, it’s definitely going to impact bidding costs on keywords. The average cost per click on branded terms will almost certainly increase as companies who previously had a monopoly on their brand name or trademarked terms will now find themselves bidding directly against competitors for those keywords.
Conversely and as another form of attack, advertisers can also take advantage of this new ruling by bidding on their competitors trademarks.
Advertisers (and trademark owners particularly) are going to have to become a lot sharper with their bidding and keyword matching options. Experimenting with these settings and optimising advertising copy effectively is now more critical than ever to keep costs per click (CPC) low.
One way to lower CPC in a PPC campaign is to utilise more niche phrases. Advertisers can widen the net to attract more targeted traffic by pairing their trademark terms with generic keywords to create more niche keyphrases.
Advertisers also need ensure that their ad copy is as persuasive as possible, as well as that their landing pages are optimised for conversion. One of the most effective ways to lower cost per acquisition is to improve conversion rates.
From a search engine optimisation perspective, it’s going to become even more critical to rank organically. Not only are organic search engine results generally more trusted by searchers, eye-track studies and research show that searchers spend more time looking at the results on the top left of the page. The pattern typically forms a lose “F” shape. This means that advertisers and marketers typically want to see their sites appearing within the top 3 results on a search engine results page.
Ranking well organically means that trademark owners can take advantage of increased organic traffic which costs nothing to acquire and is far more sustainable. It also means that they will be able to capitalise on searches for their trademark in both organic and paid listings.
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