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Competitors bidding on keyword products they dont sell
agapes




msg:1112029
 5:14 am on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

There is a disturbing trend i have noticed where Google is letting competitors and advertisers bid for product keywords that they dont sell at all! For example, wouldnt you think that a site selling oranges shouldnt be able to bid for apples? Or Pepsi bidding on Coca-cola keyword? Well i wrote google about this and their response was "Please note that as long as ad text and keywords adhere to our Editorial Guidelines, advertisers are free to run on any keyword they choose."

This is so wrong! I thought the editorial guidelines were in place for the very reason to alleviate the thing that is occurring - people bidding on keywords that they donít sell. I believe this is the very reason there is an editorial person checking these ads. At least thatís what other services like Overture and Findwhat do. A person cant just bid on Pepsi keyword and sell Coca-Cola...that is so wrong and a violation of unfair competition laws! I cant see why google would let some of these competitors like that go thru...unless google is that greedy to make money off EVERY advertiser?

If this continues, what's gonna happen is the advertisers that are truly selling the products they keyword target will A) stop spending ad money on google since these other sites are stealing potential customers B) search users will get perceive that google's results are poor quality and go elsewhere C) Advertisers go to other Pay-per-click services like Overture.

What are your thoughts on this folks and have you also noticed this trend in your niche market?

 

PatrickDeese




msg:1112030
 5:36 am on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

> A person cant just bid on Pepsi keyword and sell Coca-Cola...that is so wrong and a violation of unfair competition laws

Um........ no.

Pepsi and Coke are not different products - they are both soda pop.

If were the owner of a hotel, for example it would be a very reasonable strategy to advertise using the names of competing hotels - why? Because I want people interested in WebmasterWorld Hotel to consider staying at my own WorldWebmaster Hotel.

The only part where Google would step in is if I advertised in my creatives as being the WebmasterWorld Hotel, and then sending people to WorldWebmaster Hotel.

Is it "unfair" to have two ads for competing business on the same page in the telephone directory? Of course not.

Suck it up - or get even - why not bid on your competitor's brands, and give his customers the chance to consider your products.

roitracker




msg:1112031
 5:46 am on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

While I agree that a site selling oranges shouldn't really make bids on apples, I have to say that "Pepsi bidding on Coca-cola" would be an excellent strategy.

eWhisper




msg:1112032
 12:14 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

PatrickDeese, very well said.

There are times that print reps are asked where certain ads are being run, and what ad size particular competitiors are running, and then the decision is made which ad to run and where on a page.

That's not unfair compeitition. It's knowing your market, and your competitors, and going for the best placement based on what you're trying to accomplish while hopefully taking some of the compeitions visitors away as well.

If you can maintain the CTR rate on G, (and stay within the ToS/relevancy issues), then you're free to spend your own money how you wish.

Now, there are times when I see ads for too unrelated a product that are advertised. These ads either:

A. Disappear after a few weeks, along with their entire account, presumably because they were using too broad of a net and saw a negative ROI, and just assumed AdWords wasn't worthwhile, when it's really their targeting to blame.

B. Have a large enough budget, that a few untargeted words don't matter, these overly broad ads might or might not disappear, but since often branding is more imporntant than direct ROI, they might still be accomplishing their goals.

Its amazing how much waiting a couple weeks can fix certain KW bidders as their ads get low CTRs and their KWs are disabled.

nyet




msg:1112033
 1:00 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

You should bid on any words you want to weather or not you sell the item or not. It is reasonable that a searcher on 'hotel' might also wan't to know about 'train trips in mexico', why not?

Anyway, the market will decide. If the ad is not relevant it won't get CTR. If the ad is badly placed it won't get ROI (conversions).

In either case (as usual) the market will reward the relevant and punish the irrelevant.

Just let the laws of evolution make their 'natural selections'

p.s. it is perfectly ok to place an ad for 'dog vitimins' in the magazine 'Cat Fancier' but it may not be a smart thing to do. (or maybe it is?) I certainly wouldn''t want the writers of 'editorial guidelines' to make the decision in the abstract and beforehand.

agapes




msg:1112034
 6:39 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

patrick, no man you're misunderstanding the point here.

What i meant to say was that obviously pepsi and coke are different brands in the same product category pop. Im just saying that it isnt right for google or any other PPC site to have let some competitor bid on their competitor's keyword brand that is in the same market.

As far as your WebmasterWorld Hotel...yea i agree with you there. but that is different cuz you're bidding on "WebmasterWorld Hotel" keyword that people are interested in staying. So you're actually showing your own WebmasterWorld Hotel. That's like someone selling Cisco parts bidding on Cisco words. That makes sense. But the vicious strategy to have an ad like "Is WebmasterWorld Hotel really safe?" and then throw those users to BrandC Hotel is so not right.

As far as the phone directory, thats a whole different animal. The directory is categoried by general subjects like Painting, Doctors, etc and of course you have competitors within the same page. Google is different in the way that people search for the company's specific product brand name. Big difference. If the keywords were general like Lawyers, then this whole issue would be irrelavent.

Anyways, the only reasonaly response from advertisers would be to bid on competitors keywpord and steal their traffic too or file a lawsuit.

[edited by: agapes at 6:49 pm (utc) on April 22, 2004]

dwilson




msg:1112035
 6:43 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree that a site selling oranges shouldn't really make bids on apples

ORANGES -- 50% more vitamin C than apples -- and tastier too!

Why not?

PatrickDeese




msg:1112036
 6:52 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Maybe you misunderstood my example.

What I am precisely suggesting is that if I were a 3Com Enterprise Networking equipment seller I would bid on Cisco $widget, Nortel $widget, HP $widget, Extreme Networks $widget, IBM $widget, Enterasys $widget, etc.

I still don't see there is a problem with that.

agapes




msg:1112037
 7:19 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

well thats your opinion and view of what you would do which i think is wrong. the fact is we'll have to see what happens to these type of ads.

AdWordsAdvisor




msg:1112038
 7:32 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

...the fact is we'll have to see what happens to these type of ads.

Just to be clear, this has been a possiblily with AdWords since day one - just about two years ago. No changes to policy in this arena that I'm aware of.

AWA

amoore




msg:1112039
 7:34 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have a site based around complimentary products for a well known product. (When I advertise,) I run advertisements looking for people that use the well known product with the hope that they will find my complimentary products useful.

For (an unrelated) example: If I sold shoelaces, I may advertise with keywords "running shoes" or "Nike shoes" and reach a large audience instead of advertising for searches on "Wizmo Shoelaces" and only reaching people that already know about my product. If I fail to interest enough of the wide audience, my budget and Google deter me from continuing that method.

Is that unreasonable? Is it "so wrong and a violation of unfair competition laws"? Should it be prohibited by Google? I believe not.

The point here is that there are valid reasons to advertise for things that you don't sell. I can understand why Google would not want to expend resources on deciding what these reasons are, and which ads conform to them.

They may be forced into this area slightly when trademarks come into play, but I'll bet they're doing that reluctantly.

nyet




msg:1112040
 7:36 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

steal their traffic too or file a lawsuit.

'their traffic" interesting notion......

PatrickDeese




msg:1112041
 10:38 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

> well thats your opinion and view of what you would do which i think is wrong.

Okay, in your opinion if I sell Networking $widgets (as an example) for an up and coming company, it is unethical for me to bid on competitor's names like Nortel and Cisco, since I am a small company and want to get the word out. So I make an advert that says something like

Network Switches by WidgetNet
Highest Quality, Lowest Cost -
Take a Moment to Compare.
www.WidgetNet.com

What you suggest to do is prevent me from introducing my more economical product to the public - that's a terribly monopolistic attitude.

Why shouldn't I have the opportunity to offer consumers a chance to consider my competitively priced product. I am a start up company and I don't have a million dollar a day advertising budget to pay for a centerfold advert in glossy magazines.

Syzygy




msg:1112042
 2:43 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

One of our vertical market sites has at least one player who targets adwords specifically around our site name.

If they want to pay money to help reinforce our brand name then good luck to them.

My attitude is, well, if you feel that our brand is strong enough for you to want to advertise directly along side it, then you might as well help your marketing cause and advertise inside our site as well; come on in...

Syzygy

nyet




msg:1112043
 2:50 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Syzygy,

Good point. We use trademarks of competitors. BUT, before we do, we make a determination weather or not we have more to Gain than Lose in doing so.

wattsnew




msg:1112044
 3:10 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The only risk is that you may annoy visitors who were really looking for a Nortel $widget to replace their toasted Nortel $widget (etc.) so your landing page better do a quick and relevant sell - not just be .../index.html.

I sell $widjerks which nobody has ever heard of - and never looks for. So I use industry specific terms (like $widget, red $widget) to interest surfers. But I haven't tried brand name keywords ( Nortel $widget ) yet.

How are your results - CTR/page views/conversion - using competitor brand names? Can you say "often superior to Nortel $widget" in the ad? Any lawyer letters?

ByronM




msg:1112045
 3:19 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

There *are* other options to google adwords out there that may offer smaller businesses the ability to market and target more affordably and then work out.

I rememer when you had to have 100k to approach google a few years ago, so its definately come down :)

But as far as apples vs oranges, its a fruit so why not. You should feel happy that someone else is probably spending more money then you and getting less results as it is usually not good practices to bid on non related keywords unless you specifically reference in your ad copywriting on what your doing there. For example if i sell apples and put a bid for oranges i would say in my ad "Did you know that apples have the same nutrients and less acidic then oranges" or something to make it relevent to that keyword.

Is a game of marketing that you have to play.. if you though adwords was rough you must not watch mutch tv :)

nyet




msg:1112046
 3:44 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The only risk is that you may annoy visitors who were really looking for a Nortel $widget to replace their toasted Nortel $widget (etc.) so your landing page better do a quick and relevant sell - not just be .../index.html.

That is why it is important to make clear in your AD that you are NOT Nortel but another option.

relevant sell on '.../index.html'

BAD idea! Make a *really* relevant sell/comparrison on the landingpage '../why_we_are_better_than_nortel.html'! consumers *love* to know what is different about products and services.

How are your results - CTR/page views/conversion - using competitor brand names? Can you say "often superior to Nortel $widget" in the ad? Any lawyer letters?

Low number of clicks, very high CTR (some like 30%! ) reasonably high conversions, exceptional ROI. In fact, it is telling indeed as to which pages on our site those visitors enter and exit. Gives us insight in to what conclusions the consumer might be drawing about us and our competition.

Lawyers? yes a few 'cease and desist' letters. Ususally we get a 'please stop' letter or email. We reply politely that we only want the consumer to be aware of their options, free market, etc etc...

We have never been sued. Google eventually removes the word if the other company pushes it far enough. We would not let it go to a suit.

To one particularly nasty (you should read the emails) competitor we offered them a comprimise: keep our ad or we would create a direct comparrision on our site of their service and ours (which as long as the comparrison is objective, not defamatory and not deceptive is legal, in the USA) and do our best to get it into the search engines.

Have not heard back from them.

(Legal Disclaimer: I ain't no lawyer and you should not do any of the above unless you know the legal risks)

kwasher




msg:1112047
 7:11 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes! The comparison subject is a great point.

If I sell BlueDrink and have a taste test and put the results online that more people liked the BlueDrink than RedDrink, I would certainly want people searching for RedDrink to know. The BlueDrink people already know.

paybacksa




msg:1112048
 7:29 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Of particular interest is a recent report (today?) that Google will stop accommodating vendors who ask that others NOT be able to buy their trademark words on Google. Google plans to allow it now.

So if you didn't like Oranges buying Apple adwords, how will you like your competito buying your trademark adwords?

Competition is a brutal endeavor... and Google bids on trademark adwords will keep going skyward :-)

Think about the boardroom discussion... board member demanding to know how the CEO could allow their direct competitor to rank #1 for their own tradename! You fool! You should bid higher!

jusdrum




msg:1112049
 9:24 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The system will regulate itself.

If a company wants to advertise their widget under keywords that don't apply, are anti-keywords, and/or something other than what the product is they should be allowed. If the ads aren't useful, they won't get click throughs. If they don't get click throughs then they are deleted. If someone is capable of drawing traffic away from a keyword based on something other than what is immediately obvious from the keyword, then more power to them. Because in my experience, advertising something off-topic in a given keyword never works.

However, if people are fraudulantly misrepresenting themselves, that should be dealt with accordingly by Google.

wattsnew




msg:1112050
 11:21 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

nyet,

Thanks very much for sharing your experience. It's worth thinking about brand keywords for comparison ads......very careful, accurate, provable comparisons that is...

lexipixel




msg:1112051
 12:37 am on Apr 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think if RedCola wants to attract BlueCola customers, they should not only be able to buy the keywords, but even mention the competition-

Would this be Google-legal?

Are you a BlueCola drinker?
RedCola wants you! Click here
for a coupon for a free sample.
Visit: www.twopartycola.war

Import Export




msg:1112052
 7:37 am on Apr 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Your ignorance and jealousy mask the substance of your post (if any).. Just to start off correctly.. Welcome to business 101 on the planet earth.

Business is competitive. For a company/website to perform at maximum potential they need to utilize many strategies and employ countless tactics. Yes, including the methods you have outlined with your jealous cry for support.

Unless these "search terms" are protected (trademarks etc), you can do nothing to stop it. No level of whining on message boards or group therapy will change this. Intelligent webmasters, affiliates, seo's, and marketers will always look at new ways to improve on their business and bottom line. Including perfectly legal advertising in your niche. The perfect example came as:

"ORANGES -- 50% more vitamin C than apples -- and tastier too!"

If the "Oranges" advertiser never turned conversions then there would be no purpose to continue advertising. But if it did, then perhaps this would be considered his niche and even potential customers.. (What a theory)

My only suggestion is for you to create the Good Samaritan search engine service and sell PPC ads to others where you can govern as the PPC cyber police.

$.02

Manga




msg:1112053
 11:44 am on Apr 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google is not responsible for protecting your brand, you are. If you think that another advertiser is violating your trademark, then take legal action against that advertiser and let the real courts decide. Don't expect Google to act as your free lawyer.

SlyOldDog




msg:1112054
 8:43 pm on Apr 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Anyhow, it's for sure not in Google's interest to reduce bid competition. Can you imagine Microsoft being the only company allowed to bid on it's name? At 5 cents a click?

Or perhaps since the brand "belongs" to Microsoft, they could sue Google and have the keyword for free! Heh heh.

Wasn't there a thread on WebmasterWorld mentioning that the French courts were allowing trademarking of search keywords (not only brands)?

We also optimize our websites for closely related products which get more searches. It's a good strategy.

chrisnrae




msg:1112055
 4:22 am on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

"If this continues, what's gonna happen is the advertisers that are truly selling the products they keyword target will A) stop spending ad money on google since these other sites are stealing potential customers"

No business person in their right mind making money on Adwords traffic is gonna cut off their nose to spite their face. And the key word there is potential. It is your job to make them yours, not google's by eliminating the competition.

"B) search users will get perceive that google's results are poor quality and go elsewhere"

Non issue. As mentioned above, if the ad isn't found to be relevant by searchers, then they won't have a good CTR and will eventually drop from the listings or find they have a poor ROI and stop running those keywords.

"C) Advertisers go to other Pay-per-click services like Overture."

See my answer to A. Business is about bottom line and not emotion. Advertisers will continue to spend money where they make money, even if they make less money due to competition. As long as the ROI is there, they'll be there.

Sounds to me like you were getting good traffic at a cheap price under your brand terms and now that you have competitors offering alternative brands under your keywords, that's not the case anymore and you're mad about it. Anytime competition lowers my bottom line it's annoying LOL, but it's business. If you can't stand the heat your only choice is to adapt or get out of the kitchen.

wattsnew




msg:1112056
 4:38 am on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

<<"B) search users will get perceive that google's results are poor quality and go elsewhere"
Non issue. As mentioned above, if the ad isn't found to be relevant by searchers, then they won't have a good CTR...... >>

Yes, it's an issue. A good ad can draw clicks to a "bait and switch" page that's not what the searcher is after. Yes, the ROI would be low - but for a high margin product it could be just branding. That does effect the perception of Google's AdWords reliability and could cause searchers to go elsewhere. And that would affect all advertisers.

glitterball




msg:1112057
 1:39 pm on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think that the real point here is that it is possible to 'ramp up' the price your Competitor needs to bid.

If anything this is anti-competitive, as it would allow the company with the biggest budget to prevent the small guy from advertising his own product.

PatrickDeese




msg:1112058
 4:02 pm on Apr 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

If anything this is anti-competitive, as it would allow the company with the biggest budget to prevent the small guy from advertising his own product.

How is one bidder going to "prevent" someone from advertising? If BigCompanyWidget.com decides to pay $5.00 per click and I choose to bid $.05 - there I will be in the #2 position - and if my creatives are substantially better or more on target for the search, chances are that G will put me in the #1 slot.

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