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Hey ADM Community - Need advice in regards to a PPC Ad using our company name.......

Hey Adm`ers need your insight on this one............

Ok here`s the situation;

We are a Volkswagen Dealer; Douglas VW.

Now when you Google Douglas VW you see a competitor running a Pay-Per-Click ad right on top of our name in the organic section of this search.

Now it`s not like they are using Summit VW(as the town) they are literally using our name and Douglas VW is the first thing that you see in the ppc ad. 

When you click the ad, you go right to their website..............

Very misleading if someone is searching for Douglas VW....... obviously.

When contacted the Tier-10 Marketing who handles Volkswagen`s advertising, they stated that this is legal to do............

I don`t see how you can legally(forget morally) use another company`s name when indeed that company also sells the same product as you!~

A few years back I haunted an old dealership that I use to work for utilizing my videos, landing pages & micro-sites by tagging everything appropriately so my digital creations would show up on the first six pages when you Googled their company name. 

However I never actually used Bernardsville VW(The old company I worked for) in any of my creations. Just by utilizing various versions of tags & the town(Bernardsville) in my titles, I caused quite a stir with VW.

So the irony to me is that now this other VW Dealer is doing this via PPC and Volkswagen, as of right now, doesn't really have a definitive answer as to whether this is right or wrong..................

I`d like to hear from all of you especially if you have ever experienced something like this.

Was it legal??????? In my mind the answer is no.............. 


Ken Beam

Tags: Adwords, Google, Keyword, PPC, PPC Bid, SEM, Search Engine Marketing

Views: 1255

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Replies to This ADM Discussion

Contrary to what some people say, using Trademarked terms is not always against Google's policy.

If the ad campaign is not referencing the trademarked term, you can use it in the ad copy.  A dealer with the city name plus the manufacturer name is a case where an advertiser can come in and easily use your dealer name in the ad copy.  ie. "Your favorite San Diego VW Dealer" (if the dealer's name is "San Diego VW") You are using San Diego VW in a different context and are not referencing the dealer named "San Diego VW"

I am not sure if Google still allows this but if you add value to the search results, they may allow it.  This is highly subjective on Google's part.  We have had previously disapproved campaigns get approved when we changed something that was not the ad copy.  Informational ads are the easiest example.  You are bringing value to the results because you are supplying (unique) information about the keywords.  The one thing to remember here is that you can't blatantly be selling on the landing page.

Carl is correct here, if Google detects no direct malicious intent in their ad audit process I.E. using the term in ad copy with different context than trademarked term is meant to imply then usually they will let this one slide but often with an "Approved (Limited)" status at best. That however is not the case here as the term in question is Douglas Volkswagen / Douglas VW and not a geo related term as dealer is located in Summit,NJ. Best case is to contact Google to have term added to their trademark term list so that your competitors have to ask you for approval to use your term, which obviously will never happen!

Also you do have to look out for the OEM's audits and their strike systems. For instance Subaru has a three strike system in which you cannot buy the name of the dealer nor buy the name of the city they are in amongst other rules. VW is pretty harsh as well about their audit process just not as crazy so be careful and talk to the OEM to verify if the vendor tells you something that sounds fishy as OEM approved vendors make mistakes too (and usually in mass when they do it).

As for strategy, there really is no grey area. The only way to grow is to obtain. That being said if you only have X amount of people in a given area and Y amount of those people want to buy a vehicle and only Z want to buy your brand how do you grow Z? Easy you multiply/grow the area because as a marketer you cannot increase the amount of people in a given area and you can only "protect" given area but so much. Adding zipcodes or miles added to a radius however... that we can control and that does allow us to tap into higher numbers of people. Not to be rude or get into a pissing match but that is actually first day marketing 101 and by far a proven concept not a debatable one.

Ken, Is this what you are seeing?

I don't see any trademark infringement, so what you see here is legal. Google likely won't do anything about it if you are not buying PPC ads either. The easiest way to move them out of that spot is to bid on your own name which makes it expensive for them to try to be in the top 3 positions using Douglas VW. 

FYI, anyone bidding on "VW" or "Volkswagen" could potentially show up in the top 3 above you as well by simply setting those 2 terms on broad match. It's not enough to do SEO alone as 88% of SEM clicks are incremental to SEO and 85% of SEM clicks occur in the top 3 positions. That said, it takes the right ad manager or provider to help you build a winning campaign. A bad campaign is almost worse than no campaign!

If you'd like to gain more insight how you can nip this in the bud and, feel free to send me a PM. I'm glad to have a discussion if you like.

Hiya Britt - Yep...... that`s it. Now I hear what you`re sayin` but again I question how can another VW Dealer actually use Douglas VW in the PPC ad itself....... let alone in the title????

Hell if that`s the case I think I`ll use Coca-cola in my title then!~~ ha! ha! just kiddin`......... seriously though, so you`re telling me that it is legal to use another company` name in the title of an ad on the internet????? 

I realize anyone can buy anyone else`s name.......... but that gives you the right to use that company`s name then too in the actual title of the ad?????

Are Douglas VW & Douglas Volkswagen registered trademarks? See my reply to Bryan.

Britt, in the 2nd ad Douglas VW is used in the actual ad copy by competitor Open Road VW Bridgewater to directly influence adrank and thus quality score in a fraudulent manner in which they have no permission from trademark owner, how do you not see infringement? That is as text book as the definition gets. 

Ken, he is wrong and Google will do something about it as long as you are proactive or your provider is, I deal with them several times a day at least weekly regarding trademarks. At this point you can listen to the guy who runs strategy or the guy who runs sales. Bidding on a term and using it in ad copy is two totally different things. I still don't think he is understanding what it is exactly your talking about. 

While "Douglas VW" may be Trademarked, it doesn't show that in search results with the "TM" or "R" on Ken's result in organic results.

Google doesn't just assume trademark for every business name, you have to make the distinction (according to my Google contact). My question is, if Volkswagen and VW are already trademarked, can a dealer trademark their name that includes the brand? If not, that would exclude any trademark infringement. My expertise is Digital Marketing, however, not trademark laws.

There is what's called "Implied Affiliation" which can get ads disapproved by Google. I've sent a screenshot over and am awaiting a reply from my contact to get her insight. To be clear on what Google will and won't do, they can disapprove ads, but will not contact a business for using a trademarked name in ad copy. They encourage the owner of the trademark to contact the business using it.

I'll let you know what I hear back.

1. I have stipulated 2X now that they or their PPC provider need's to proactivly put them on the Tradmarked term list.

2. As their legal DBA is Douglas VW / Douglas Volkswagen the answer is yes they own the rights to that name however under franchise bylaws the OEM VW can also use their name in any way it see's fit acting as tier 2 marketing. That being said their competitor down the street cannot use their name period. 

3. Due to legal indemnification Google always sides with term owner but correct if you are not on term list you have to monitor and police your competitors ads yourself. Which again is why that list is so important to be on in the first place.  

You are correct except Ken confirmed what I thought about trademarking. He cannot trademark a business name of a reseller (Douglas VW) that includes an already trademarked name (VW/Volkswagen). 

Hmmm, never had any issues adding dealer names to the list before. Regardless it goes against comparative advertising guidelines that call for you to compare yourself to competitor to be allowed to use their name and or logo in ad copy to not be held liable.  

You're correct in that sense. I have a bunch of clients running comparative/competitive campaigns but by brand, not dealer names. There are also no stipulations about having dealer names in your ad groups. The issue is having the dealer name in the ad copy itself.

I know, I have been saying the entire time that the issue is with the ad copy not the bid on terms.


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