Don’t Get Blindsided by Trademark Bidders this Holiday Season

Ulla Saleh Nov 22, 2017

We don’t need to tell you that the holiday season is the busiest time of year for retailers. Right now you are in the thick of it! Adobe is already forecasting that U.S. online sales will surpass $100 billion this holiday season–a 13.8% increase over last year!

But here’s what the analysts don’t tell you: the holidays are also the season when trademark bidders thrive. In Q4, we typically see a 20-30% increase in trademark bidding. And big brands are major targets who stand to lose the most.

We know you are busy right now and in holiday overdrive, working to maximize your well-known brand’s sales and beat your competition. Protecting your brand, which may seem like a more defensive and long-term play, may not be top of mind. We get it.

This is the perfect time, however, to capture data about who’s bidding on your brand—whether it’s partners, affiliates, competitors, or someone else. And when the craziness calms down and you’re doing your 2017 holiday shopping post-mortem, you can see the complete picture of what actually happened.

So, if you don’t have time to read the rest of this post, stop here, and just sign up for our free branded keyword coverage over the holidays.

It’s like insurance for your campaigns, and includes essential monitoring through the rest of this year. With a 5-minute conversation we can understand your needs, set up the monitoring, and let it hum in the background. Then we’ll circle back with you in January when the results are in.

But if you do have time to read on, please do!

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What is Trademark Abuse?

With high search volume, and retailers competing for eyeballs and clicks, competition is fierce throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season. In order to attract attention and increase visibility of their ads, advertisers use all kinds of tactics, including trademark bidding.

To learn more, read our recently published eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Trademark Bidding, which explains how to uncover trademark bidders and stop them in their tracks. It also details how to set up a paid search monitoring program and keep it running smoothly, without spending tons of time.

An Example of Trademark Bidding During the Holidays

During the holidays, competition on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is fierce. Everyone is competing for the same traffic, and they are bidding on brand names to capture that traffic.

So, what exactly does trademark bidding look like this time of year? Below is a screenshot of the SERP with the search query “Black Friday Roomba”, that we uncovered using the BrandVerity paid search monitoring tool. While the screenshot only shows the results above the fold, when I scrolled down to the bottom of page one, I was only able to find resellers and partners. The official website for the manufacturer of this robot vacuum cleaner, http://www.irobot.com, doesn’t appear. You’ll also notice how ads dominate the space above the fold.

Screen_Shot_2017-11-21_at_1_09_43_PM

Since the SERP acts like a front door to your brand’s online store, you want to make sure your front door is well kept and that your brand is well-represented. But trademark bidding can make it difficult for potential customers to find the brands they love.

What Can You Do Right Now to Stop Trademark Abuse?

The best thing you can do is set up paid search monitoring using an automated tool. Our customers recommend us, but no matter which way you go, an automated tool is the only way to protect your brand.

Right now you may not be keen to learn a new tool, come up to speed and incorporate a new process into your team’s weekly workflow. But if you collect the data now, when the abuse is rampant, you can get the information you need to start taking action once holiday dust settles. If you don’t start monitoring now, you won’t see how bad it can get it.

For those who like checklists, here are three easy steps you can do NOW:

  1. Sign up for BrandVerity’s free branded keyword coverage over the holidays by clicking here.
  2. We’ll reach out to you and schedule a 5-minute conversation to set up a monitoring account.
  3. In January, when the madness subsides, we’ll follow up with you and go through the data collected by our tool. At this point, you can make a decision on what to do.

Combatting Trademark Abuse in the Long-run

In our recent webinar, Prepping Your Paid Search for the Holiday War Room, our Director of Business Development Preston Holland offered suggestions on how to curb trademark abuse as part of a longer-term brand protection effort.

The first step is to remind your partners of brand-bidding policies. Be sure to use clear and explicit language that includes the consequences for violating your agreements.

Your agreements should be very specific and include details such as, which keywords are allowed and which ones are prohibited. Are there certain keywords you allow brand bidding on but won’t allow anyone to outrank you on? Or do you require partners to negative match brand terms? In an earlier blog post, we give several suggestions on how to write clear partner policies.

Next, you should let your partners know that you will be actively monitoring to make sure that partner agreements are upheld. While some monitoring can be done manually by checking a set of keywords certain times a day, it is impractical, time-consuming, and technically impossible to combat trademark bidding through a manual process. An automated paid search monitoring tool crawls thousands of pages in minutes to find infringing ads and then makes it easy for you to submit the violations in bulk to be taken down.

While an automated tool is extremely helpful during the year, it is absolutely essential during Q4 when the volume of searches and advertising increases significantly. For more information on how to set up a comprehensive monitoring program, read our recent blog post, which outlines the specific steps you need to take.

Cross “Deal With Trademark Abuse” Off Your To-Do List

During the holidays, with so many people researching and shopping online, every instance of trademark bidding and partner abuse has an outsized negative impact on your brand. The lost clicks, conversions, and revenue hurt your bottom line all year round—but are even more common during the holiday season.

Sign up today for free branded keyword coverage over the holidays, so that you can get the full picture of the damage trademark abuse causes. Let the monitoring tool do the heavy lifting of collecting all the infringing ads and then we’ll walk you through the data in 2018.

 

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