The use of trademarks as keywords in Google Adwords three years after the change of rules

On the 14th of September 2010, Google proceeded to liberalize its advertising program and changed its rules concerning the use of a trademark as a keyword. Since that time it is technically possible to buy the name of a trademark as a keyword in the program. Keep Alert conducted a study of seven French brands from the global Interbrand ranking to measure the impact of this liberalization on the sales of sponsored links, three years after the change of rules. This study, already carried out in 2010 and 2011 was repeated in 2013 between May 22nd and 25th across the 27 countries of the European Union.

Since 2010

Across the seven trademarks, Keep Alert noted a significant decrease of 24% of purchased ads on Google Adwords in 2013. Only Danone is experiencing a rise in the global number of ads in 2013. L'Oreal is also an exception because its level of ads detected in 2010 was exceptionally high and has steadily decreased over the three years. As shown in the diagram above, the liberalization of brands in Google Adwords has had an impact in 2011 on the level of ads detected but this situation is stabilizing after two years with a return to the 2010 level.

Advertising purchased by the trademark itself

This study also highlighted the high prevalence of advertising not purchased directly by the official trademark holders: 86.5% did not belong to them. Louis Vuitton and Moet et Chandon always applied the same strategy and are absent from the Google Adwords program during the studied periods. However the change of rules in 2010 by Google strongly encouraged brand owners to increase ad purchases as shown between 2010 and 2011. On average in 2010, the five trademarks bought 12 ads, against 15 in 2011. Two years later, the average number of ads bought by the five active brands dropped by 11%.

Distributors, competitors and counterfeiters still present

Brands can be frustrated by the visibility of unauthorized advertisers and the increase of the cost-per-click induced by their positioning on the trademark name. 2013 is not an exception to the rule as we find among advertisers distributors of the trademarks, sites suspected of selling counterfeiting products and competitors.
L'Oreal found one of its main competitors, Nivea, positioned on its name as shown in the screenshot below.

oral concurrent
In 2010 and 2011 we detected many sites reselling brand’ products (private sales for Hermes and Cartier, online wine shops for Moet & Chandon...). Such dealers can be found in 2013 again, especially for Louis Vuitton.

lv 2013 moliera


More problematic for brands, some sites seem to offer unauthorized or counterfeit products. Even if the Google Adwords program is working hard to reduce the risk of infringement through the advertisements, some links remain suspicious as for Cartier in 2013.

cartier suspect 2