Have you noticed that your top position AdWords ads are looking a bit different lately? That’s because earlier this year Google made some changes to the way certain AdWords ads are displayed. When ads appear in positions 1 – 3 (above the organic results on Google), ad copy with a first description line that ends with punctuation will see that first line automatically moved to the headline of the ad, separated by a dash. This means that your headline, the portion of the text copy that gets the most attention from potential customers, is now able to provide even more information to Google users when your ad is being shown in the top three positions. How great is that?
Google made this update to description line 1 placement after performing tests and coming to the conclusion that it not only improves the user experience by providing searchers with more, relevant information easily and rapidly, but also improves the performance of the ad for the advertiser. After doing some A/B ad testing with and without the punctuation at the end of description line 1, JumpFly’s account managers have seen the clickthrough rates (CTR) of the new ads with punctuation at the end of description line 1 skyrocket over the old ones without punctuation. So much so that the JumpFly pay-per-click management teams now make sure that description line 1 ends in punctuation as often as possible.
Another change that Google recently announced is that top position ads will now be showing the display URL domain in the headline. This update to how ads are displayed will allow Google searchers to be able to see and identify what site they will be taken to after they click on the ad and will help them decide whether or not they want to go to that site. For AdWords advertisers, this is another huge change that is going to be great for them, especially for branding. With the display URL being more prominent in the headline and still being shown in the display URL, your company name and web address exposure is doubled. Sounds good to us!
Now, the question is: How will Google AdWords decide whether to show the display URL or description line 1 after the headline? Well, according to Google, BOTH can be displayed as long as the resulting headline is sixty-eight characters or less. Imagine having a sixty-eight character, attention grabbing headline. The amount of information you can get to potential customers in bold, blue text is unheard of and something all advertisers should try to capitalize on.
These changes to how Google AdWords ads are displayed are hugely important for advertisers. In order to capitalize on them, you might want to call a professional PPC Management company like JumpFly. We know the ins and outs of Google AdWords and we love implementing new, innovative ideas for our clients.
Some businesses choose to advertise on competitor names while others don’t. Is it worth it & what is the risk?
Google allows AdWords customers to advertise on trademarked terms in the U.S. & research indicates that U.S. courts have so far agreed that it is not illegal to advertise on competitor names, as long as the message is not misleading. However, the rapid adoption of the Internet as a tool to find products and services has resulted in trademark law getting challenged and changed on a regular basis, so there is still uncertainty in this area.
I would like to start out by making it very clear that I am not a lawyer. However, per Jeffrey A. Babener, who is an attorney with Babener & Associates, “Generally, a seller or imitator may use a competitor’s trademark when advertising the seller’s product so long as the competitor’s trademark is used in a truthful way, such that its use is not likely to create confusion in the consumers’ mind as to the source of the product being sold”
“Over the years, many different legal theories have been used by competitors in an attempt to stop the use of their name or product … Actions have been brought for disparagement, trade libel, defamation, trademark infringement, unfair competition and misappropriation of a name. The successful cases have, for the most part, involved false advertising and unfair competition through the misrepresentation of one’s product, causing consumer confusion… A seller may be held liable for unfair competition under federal and state laws where the seller misrepresents either the seller’s, or the competitor’s products. ”
Some U.S. courts have upheld that advertising on a competitor’s name is legal. For example, In J.G. Wentworth SSC Ltd v. Settlement Funding LLC, 2007 WL 30115 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 4, 2007), the court granted summary judgment to the advertisers based on the lack of evidence of consumer confusion. There are other examples as well.
Businesses can partially protect themselves by trademarking their name so competitors cannot use their name in ad copy, but again, this process does not prevent competitors from using trademarked terms to advertise on. Advertisers can click here to review AdWords Trademark policy detail and access their Trademark Complaint Form.
Interestingly, when it comes to advertising on a competitor name, large companies basically have the ability to bully smaller companies into submission, and here is why. If Business A is upset about Business B’s decision to advertise on Business A’s name, Business A can then have their lawyers issue Business B a Cease & Desist Letter. If Business B decides not to listen, they may then be setting themselves up for potential litigation. I am trying to simplify something rather complex, but the bottom line is that even if Business B has done nothing illegal, they may still find themselves in a position where they have to defend themselves. The cruel reality of litigation is that it can easily cost $100,000 in legal fees. Furthermore, a company cannot defend itself as an individual can, so a lawyer must be hired to defend a business (with certain exceptions that might apply to small claims court). Again, I am not a lawyer, but this is my understanding.
In the end, it appears that advertising on competitor names is legal and usually OK to do. If a competitor is upset, they will usually have their lawyers provide a Cease & Desist Letter, at which time you may want to comply with their request as litigation is incredibly costly. It must be understood that advertising on competitor names has the potential to result in unforeseen grief, litigation & legal fees, so it is important to understand your risk.
At JumpFly, we leave the choice of advertising on competitor names to the client. For those that have done this, it has often proven valuable and provided a very favorable ROI. However, this action can certainly lead to grief if a competitor is infuriated and willing to try and litigate, even if they would likely lose. So if you choose to go down this path, it must be done carefully & without confusing potential customers. Sadly, businesses advertising on competitor names that find themselves in litigation will likely find that even a victory in court still results in defeat in the pocket book.
Welcome to 2009! It’s back to life, back to reality for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising after the holidays. First things first, turn off those Christmas ads – I’ve still been seeing a lot of “Free Shipping in Time for Christmas” and “Start Planning for 2009 Today” ads out there.
Have you looked at your PPC ad copy lately? Now is the time to take a look at your ad copy and make changes. If you have multiple ads running, is there a clear loser that you can pause? Is one of them performing really well? Can you test a variation of it to see if you can beat it, or use it in other AdGroups to improve performance elsewhere? If you are planning a Winter Sale, go ahead and do new ads to highlight it.
One thing I really wish the search engines had was start and end dates for ad copy. It would be wonderful to know a client was going to start a sale on a certain date, create the ad to start running on that date (instead of creating it and pausing it, then going in to make it live when the sale starts) and then having it end when the sale ends (instead of manually having to remember to pause the ads). In fact, Google is usually so far ahead of the curve on things like this, that I’m amazed they don’t have that feature already.
But until the search engines add this functionality, you’ll just have to remember to end your holiday ads and start and end your sale ads.
Another thing to check is your PPC advertising budget. Did you raise it for the holidays? Do you need to bring it back down to a lower level? That’s another thing you can look at. Did you do a new marketing budget for 2009? Now is the time to make changes to your PPC budget to be in line with your overall marketing strategy.
I wish you much success in your PPC marketing in 2009. If you are managing your own PPC accounts and spending over $1,000 per month, you should definitely consider starting the new year with a free PPC account review from a qualified PPC management agency. Many advertisers needlessly and unknowingly waste a large portion of their budgets by improperly using the constantly changing PPC platforms. Don’t be one of them.