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Competitors copying ad titles and text.

What to do?



12:57 pm on Jun 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi All,

Subject says it really. Competitors are copying the titles and text of my ads.

Google say that they aren't prepared to pull competitors ads, but they'll put me in email contact with the competitors. But I'm hesitant to contact them, as the last thing I want to do is provoke a bidding war.

It's an expanding market, so (IMHO) there's room for all of us. I'd far rather co-operate than directly compete.

Is this a problem other people have had? Any suggestions as to how best to deal with it?

All the best,

Robert Scott

1:40 pm on Jun 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If Google won't help, then I don't think you have many options.

I have the same problem but appear above my competitors so it's not a major problem for me.

If I was in your position I would change my ad. It is a good idea to always have 2 ads per keyword and check the CTR's. Keep the better ad and modify the other. It's a continuous cycle to improve CTR.

Also, try to find other keywords or phrases that your competitor isn't targeting. These are often the most profitable anyway.


2:38 pm on Jun 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Have you evaluated to see how much damage has been done?

Quite a while ago I had a competitor do the exact same thing; my costs didn't go up, my customer numbers stayed the same ... I don't know why it didn't affect my traffic on that keyword but it didn't!

So my first piece of advice is: don't panic, just evaluate.

Then, if you see a problem and you need to start damage control, start tweaking your copy.

I would make a note of each time you change your copy, and if your competitor continues to follow in your footsteps, then at least you have a record of what's going on. Also keep track of the times you've talked to Google about the problem.

Also, is your competitor large or small? If it's a larger company, the copying might have been done by one person while the rest of the company doesn't know what's going on (and wouldn't condone it if they knew). So if you do end up contacting the competitor, try to find out the chain of command and contact their boss. ;) (I've done this a few times when contacting people who have hijacked my content and it works pretty well. Usually supervisors are aghast at this kind of blatant thievery.)


4:43 pm on Jun 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Your titles and ad text are copyrighted - your competitor stealing your ad copy is copyright infringement, and they are legally required to remove it, if you ask. If you want them to change their listings that are identical to yours, you can send your competitor cease and desist (C&D) letter. This is probably what Google had in mind when giving you the competitor's contact information.

There are many sample C&Ds online, just do a search, fill out the information, and send it to the competitor. The letter spells out legalities regarding copyright infringement, how they could be liable for financial compensation to you, and what else could happen if they don't remove the infringed content. If you send it by email, state you expect the infringed titles and ad copy to be removed within 48 or 72 hours.

If you want your competitor to remove the titles and text, a C&D is probably the easiest way to do it.

Or as Hawgirl says, start tweaking your copy, if you would rather not be confrontational about it, and watch if they copy the new changes.


4:51 pm on Jun 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member shak is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery....

not forgetting

Its also a pain in the Bxxxside.

I am with Jenstar on this 1, CnD letter should do the trick, I would also CC Google adwords team in on the email.

As much as Google saying they aren't prepared to pull competitors ads, at least it will wake them upto the fact that this a potential issue which is going to GROW as more advertisers come on board.

Good luck, and do keep us informed.



4:58 pm on Jun 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Something else you can do, which I am surprised that Google didn't direct you to, is to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act report to Google. They specifically mention adwords on their info page on it, so it might just be a case of the Adwords team not being involved with those who do the DMCA infringement reports.


All the information is there on how to file the report.

Good luck! Keep us posted with what happens.


8:22 pm on Jun 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If your ad title and description is generic, then change it to include something that isn't.

I'm with Shak on this one, I'd be flattered.

All the legal stuff is difficult to implement and takes your mind off the real job of writing killer copy.

If your competitor is so dull that they can't come up with something original about their own products or services and have to steal generic ads you create, then they won't be competition for long.


1:30 pm on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks everyone for your helpful comments and suggestions, I'll give it some thought...

All the best,


2:22 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This happens to us all the time. If they copy 1 ad, I write 5 new ones. If they copy 2, I'll create 10 new ones. Just make it so frustrating for them that it won't be worth it to them to keep copying you. Escalating it by C&D letters should be reserved for real problems, not copying ad text on a PPC. There are too many easy ways for a competitor to get back at you for some imagined wrong. You send a C&D, they spoof your domain and you've got more problems than you ever imagined.

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