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Domain name pirating on PPC
competitor targeting my domain name on PPC
a2ztranslate




msg:4349146
 7:11 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

OK, having an issue with a competitor targeting our client's domain name on PPC. So competitor is using our client's full URL as a PPC keyword (yes, the full url www.#*$!X.co.nz, not just the name part). People who are not so web savvy in NZ/AUS often type the URL into the search field rather than the URL field to find a website.

Contacted Google support about this, I would have thought this is a breach of T&C, but they claim they can only protect a trademark, not a domain name. Here is the Google response:

"As per our discussion I have consulted a specialist and have confirmed
that the scope of our investigation is limited to only trademarked terms.
I looked into your account and noticed that the the keyword "#*$!X" is not
trademarked. We strongly encourage you to go ahead and trademark this term
to avoid future escalations and to ensure that there is no misuse of your
domain."

Any ideas what to do now other than spend money on PPC to combat this for a domain name our client owns? Seems ridiculous to me.

 

alexsel




msg:4349150
 7:27 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does the competitor's ad appear above search results or to the right?

a2ztranslate




msg:4349155
 7:32 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Above, it is the only ad for the domain name.

netmeg




msg:4349160
 7:54 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't know about the rules in NZ; here in the US there's no rule against that as far as I know. I target ads on my client's competitor's domain names, and they target ads on ours.

The best way to fight it is to make an ad for yourself and say (essentially) Hey, you, over here - this is REAL site, this is the one you want, everyone else advertising for this domain is a fake.

You should be able to beat them on quality score, so it shouldn't cost too much; I *always* advocate bidding on your own brand and domain keywords anyway because they tend to be real performers (even if you already have the top organics) and it gives you a chance to stick it to the competition (if you're of that bent - I for one, am.)

alexsel




msg:4349166
 8:00 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's interesting. Generally speaking, competitors ads get placed on the right hand side because Google do not deem them relevant. Bidding on other companies domains rarely give you a relevancy score/quality score higher than 3-4, thus you're positioned on the right hand side regardless how high the bid is.

I'm going to make a qualified guess and say that the domain is specific to the industry, perhaps has the location or business category in url. Although this is a great domain, sometimes it means competitors can bid on similar keywords and appear on your domain search, with a fairly solid quality score. Your competitor must have a QS of 6 and up to appear above search results.

You'd probably prefer to stay out of bidding on your client's domain. In this case, however, it would be in your best interest to do so. The good news is that your CPCs will be minimal.

netmeg




msg:4349167
 8:03 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

(P.S. This is not what is generally considered to be domain name pirating)

a2ztranslate




msg:4349179
 8:27 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

The domain name is an acronym (uses the 4 first letters of the four word company name) so the domain is not a real word. No location or business category or anything like that in the domain name. There are a significant number of searches for the actual domain name, so my client is obviously losing traffic so we will have to compete on this I guess.

Just seems like fraud to me. If I placed an add in the newspaper with my competitor's company name, but gave my street address and phone number, that would be fraud, wouldn't it? This feels like the same thing.

alexsel




msg:4349188
 8:46 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

If I placed an add in the newspaper with my competitor's company name, but gave my street address and phone number, that would be fraud, wouldn't it? This feels like the same thing.


If your competitor used your domain/business name in ad copy, it would be the same thing.

While I understand your point of view, Google makes up the rules and you can choose to participate or not. I don't think fairness was Google's deciding factor for this particular rule.

wheel




msg:4349209
 9:31 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just to clarify, they are advertising when someone searches on your URL, NOT using your URL in their search. So if I search for webmasterwworld, they see an ad for wheel's-wonderful-seo-strategy. that's fair enough and common practice in PPC, advertise your products in front of people looking at your competitor's product.

It's an entirely different story if they were representing themselves as your url - but that's not what you'd indicated was happening.

the only other route I can suggest other than 'business sucks' is perhaps your industry has some recourse. I know if I sent this practice to the regulators in my industry they'd have this competitor for breakfast. They freak out at the stupidest stuff, any sniff of misrepresentation, real or not, would give them seizures.

a2ztranslate




msg:4349227
 10:24 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks everyone for all the clarifications. I can see how "All is fair in love, war and PPC"!

@wheel, yes you have it correct. My client already has a High Court injunction against this competitor for misrepresentation (the competitor has passed himself off in print and on the phone as my client previously), so we may be able to pursue that avenue.

piatkow




msg:4349444
 12:22 pm on Aug 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am not a lawyer but in my totally unreliable layman's opinion simply bidding on your name would not constitute "passing off". If the ad itself pretends to be leading to your site then that is a different matter of course.

bwnbwn




msg:4349677
 9:24 pm on Aug 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hmm I find it very intresting the ad shows at all. There must be enough searches for the url to not get the "not enough searches for this add to show".

shri




msg:4349771
 2:07 am on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does the client have a domain / business name trademarked? You can consider requesting a trademark block on that keyword.

We've done this is the past and its a long tedious process, including informing the local office in a not so subtle manner when we got tired of waiting on the US teams to get their thumbs out.

In your case, since you have an injunction against this party, try and make contact with the local office and see if they can assist. If nothing else, it informs them that they're enabling this person to violate the injunction.

netmeg




msg:4349805
 3:36 am on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't know about NZ, but in the US you can bid on trademarks as keywords, you just can't use them in the ad text.

badbadmonkey




msg:4349814
 4:10 am on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you mean another NZ competitor, you'd be best forgetting about Google, and filing another suit in NZ against the advertiser. Google do not, and I mean do not, give a two-penny shag about your IP or legal rights; they actively work to corrode the rights of webmasters, copyright holders, trademark owners, et al, and they will do their utmost to avoid setting any precedent against their own favor - and they most certainly would actively despise any suggestion that they should pay heed to NZ law as opposed to the Californian or Irish jurisdiction they would hope to select for themselves.

A hint of the arrogance Google display, mixed in with their disdain for the law and IP law in particular, is their implication that you should have "trademarked" the term in question, as if actually registering the TM is at all necessary. 1) An established trademark, assuming it can be demonstrated as in fact being a trademark, has the same weight of law behind it, registered or not, and 2) using your trademark (assuming a brand name or something) in a domain name would be its own infringement; the fact that there's www in front and .co.nz after is completely beside the point.

So forget Google's "policies", they do not set NZ law: go talk to an IP lawyer, and see if it's their opinion that using your domain in that manner constitutes trademark infringement. Given the precedent you apparently have I'm sure they will be happy to give you a free consultation.

graeme_p




msg:4349874
 9:07 am on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

No one is pirating anything. You competitors are getting a chance to tell your customers that they have an alternative. Its called a free market and its a good thing (for society at large, not for you) that Google are not trying to hinder it.

Webwork




msg:4349879
 9:12 am on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

The domain name is an acronym (uses the 4 first letters of the four word company name)


If the domain stands for a "popular acronym" - such as "FSBO" being the acronym for "For Sale By Owner" - then you are probably dealing with a non-exclusive use, non-trademarkable phrase . . and domain.

Beauty and fragility often go hand-in-hand.

eWhisper




msg:4349896
 10:01 am on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

This reminds me of a very old thread that I wish I could find where this is talked about a lot. I think it's from 5-7 years ago.

A tactic that is used is to also determine which of your competitors is active in SEO; and to see how often their domain is searched (remember, many people don't go to facebook directly - they search for facebook or facebook.com and then click on the link to get there - very common behavior).

Bidding on:
site:example.com
link:example.com
etc..

Can give you insight into your competitors.

Overall, these keywords will not get impressions as the search volume is too low. But, when they do start to show up; you know which of your competitors are starting to engage in SEO; and if it's a larger company - sometimes in the search query report you can see additional links, title tag, etc info that they are targeting depending on how good they are with Google search operators.

netmeg




msg:4349928
 12:33 pm on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

oooo, I like that!

bhartzer




msg:4349965
 3:53 pm on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

We strongly encourage you to go ahead and trademark this term

Have you considered getting a trademark?

bwnbwn




msg:4350050
 6:25 pm on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

netmeg me 2!

Entrep_Life




msg:4350161
 11:26 pm on Aug 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

@alexel

Your competitor must have a QS of 6 and up to appear above search results.


Are you sure about that? Even for a non-competitive keyword/keyword phrase? So you're saying the top 3 positions, in addition to a high-enough bid, must have a QS above 6?
- so even if it's the only ad that is displaying for a given search, the ad will appear on the right hand side? Which is technically position 4?

alexsel




msg:4350174
 12:02 am on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Are you sure about that? Even for a non-competitive keyword/keyword phrase? So you're saying the top 3 positions, in addition to a high-enough bid, must have a QS above 6?
- so even if it's the only ad that is displaying for a given search, the ad will appear on the right hand side? Which is technically position 4?


I'm sure you can find examples that disprove that assertion, but based on what I've seen, yes.

It does seem to depend on keyword volume but in general, if your QS is crappy, your ad rank is crappy and you'll be placed right hand side. You probably could combat, if you wanted to make a point, by exaggerated bidding but it wouldn't be in your best interest.

Hyponeros




msg:4350310
 11:05 am on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

There are clearly two things for you to do:

1- Start bidding on your own domain and trademark. Make sure you optimize your ads as much as possible, by adding all 10 available site links, your address from google place (if relevant), etc... and specifying that you are the officila site. Bid high enough to make sure you are at position 1. Your QS should not be lower than 9 (it will surely be 10), which should make your keyword cheap and probably more expensive for your competitor.

2- Start bidding on your competitor name. Be smarter than him and don't lie or cheat. This means, don't try to confuse the user by making him believe that your site is the one of your competitor but make clear that you are an alternative to your competitor. In that case I suggest to target not higher than position 2.

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