Getty Images Protects Brand Terms With Paid Search Monitoring

Ulla Saleh Jan 20, 2017

BrandVerity's Paid Search Monitoring platform helps protect Getty Images' organic branded CTR 

Getty Images is the world’s leader in visual communication, with almost 200 million assets available through its premium content site and its leading stock content site With its advanced search and image recognition technology, Getty Images serves business customers in more than 100 countries and is the first place creative and media professionals turn to discover, purchase and manage images and other digital content. Its award-winning photographers and content creators help customers produce inspiring work which appears every day in the world’s most influential newspapers, magazines, advertising campaigns, films, television programs, books and online media.

Through the BrandVerity tool, Getty Images found that 35% of a competitor’s ads contained trademark infringements against their iStock brand. They notified the search engines and took down 35% of the competitor’s ads.

With BrandVerity’s Paid Search Monitoring, Getty Images Can:

  • Measure the full scale of trademark bidding against their branded terms and misspellings of their branded keywords globally. The intuitive UI brings all the necessary information including actual ad copy and display URLs into one central location.
  • Take action against trademark bidders. The tool makes it easy to send trademark violations to the search engines in bulk. Getty Images submits complaints directly from the BrandVerity interface, removing over 700 unique non-compliant ads since it started using the tool.
  • Monitor affliate ads in international markets to ensure only authorized ads are placed.

Trademark Bidding Raises Marketing Costs, Negatively Impacts Customer Experience, and Distorts Brand Image

Trademark bidding refers to the practice of targeting paid search advertisements to branded keywords (searches that include a brand name or some variation). Branded keywords, which are the most valuable and highest converting search traffic, are a tempting target for partners, competitors and third parties to run ads on.

In some cases, a competitor or an affliate partner may engage in trademark bidding to divert traffic from a popular brand. Since traffic from branded keywords has the highest conversion rate, trademark bidding frequently reduces revenue, inflates cost-per-click, and damages brand equity.

How serious is the problem? Our research indicates that trademark bidding can take as many as 12 billion impressions away from brands every year. Even when a company is aware of brand bidding, it can be very difficult to diagnose the scale of the problem. And consistently remediating each infraction is even more challenging. First, the sheer volume of data to sift through is enormous. Second, trademark bidders use techniques to avoid detection from the brands they target. For example, they may place ads outside of normal business hours at the targeted brand’s main office locations. They may also prevent their ads from running in locations where they know a brand has employees. As a result, global brands with offices all around the world find it nearly impossible to manually monitor and remediate brand bidding in different times zones and multiple key markets.

"We did a lot of research on several brand monitoring services before deciding to partner with BrandVerity. We truly believed they had the best product offering and we haven’t been disappointed. For us it’s all about protecting our brand equity within the search space and the BrandVerity tool enables us to closely monitor brand bidding and efficiently take action on trademark infringements at scale. It’s refreshing to have more control and ownership of our brands." Gemma Richards, Global Head of Paid Search, Getty Images

Getty Images’ Two-part Challenge

As a leader in the visual content industry, the Getty Images marketing team understood the importance of protecting their branded keywords. They regularly reviewed campaign reports and conducted manual searches. The process was part-time, decentralized and could not be scaled. From these efforts, Getty Images knew that competitors were running ads on their branded keywords and misusing their trademarked terms. In particular, their iStock brand, which includes the term “stock” is an easy target for broad matching in the stock photography industry. Misspellings of “stock” such as “sock” are also common. There is even a city called “Istok” that travel companies regularly bid on.

Around the time the company was evaluating automated brand monitoring solutions, their iStock team made the strategic decision to pull away from bidding on their branded keywords in paid search because of their dominant position in organic search. By suspending paid search activities, Getty Images would be blind to the ads their competitors were running. With the loss of SERP real estate through paid ads, they were keen to protect their online brand presence through regular and thorough monitoring of their branded keywords.


BrandVerity’s Paid Search Monitoring Solution

After evaluating several solutions, the team chose BrandVerity’s Paid Search Monitoring. They wanted an automated solution that not only uncovered competitor trademark bidding activity, but also allowed them to submit trademark complaints in bulk directly to the respective legal teams at the leading search engines. Getty Images worked with BrandVerity to set up a worldwide monitoring program, which included monitoring for competitive trademark bidding as well as bidding on misspellings of branded terms. BrandVerity created custom reporting that exceeded the requirements of their regional marketing teams, and created a centralized platform for protecting their brands on the search engines. Furthermore, they found that BrandVerity’s monitoring technology provided the most thorough and actionable ad data to support their business strategies.


Results: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

BrandVerity’s monitoring provided Getty Images’ team a comprehensive picture of the global search landscape across all search engines. With the help of the BrandVerity platform, the iStock team was able to protect its dominant presence in organic search after pulling away from paid search. In the first five months of using the BrandVerity Paid Search Monitoring tool, Getty Images saw the number of trademark infringing ads decrease by more than 60%.


“We knew competitors were bidding on our branded keywords and using trademarked terms in their copy, but it was hard to get a full picture of the severity of the problem. By using BrandVerity, we were able to protect our branded real estate at a global level and across all engines. Trademark bidding decreased by more than 60% since we started using the tool.” Yara Ohashi, Paid Search Marketing Manager, Getty Images

Why Use BrandVerity for Paid Search Monitoring? 

  •  See the complete picture. BrandVerity’s paid search monitoring tool analyzes thousands of SERPs in different geographic locations and at different times of day and then reports that data into an intuitive UI. Manual searching cannot provide that level of quality data collection or give a comprehensive overview.
  • Take action. The platform makes it easy to send bulk trademark complaints to the search engines for non-compliant ads.
  • Receive world-class customer support. The BrandVerity account management team and analyst team support customers in setup, implementation, and ongoing strategic guidance with the platform.

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