How Do I Know if Trademark Bidding Affects Me?

sam.engel Mar 16, 2016

Trademark bidders can throw a serious wrench into your marketing efforts—preventing customers from reaching your site, inflating your marketing costs, and misrepresenting your brand. But how do you know when the problem is serious?

Unfortunately, the engines are mostly a black box—unless you know what to look for. It isn’t exactly feasible to constantly be searching for each variation of your brand name from every location around the world. After all, you need time for all the other important things on your plate—like actual marketing campaigns and projects! So what can you do? Here’s the good news: there are several places you can look to get a sense of how much trademark bidding affects your brand.

#1: SEM & SEO Data

If you actively manage SEM or SEO for your brand (or multiple brands), then you already have data that you can use to track down trademark bidders. It’s just a matter of collecting the right reports and taking a judicious eye to them. Don’t run the SEM or SEO for your brand? Not to worry! You should be able to request the appropriate information from another member of your marketing team or your agency.

Here are some of the key indicators of trademark bidding:

  • Low clickthrough rate (CTR) on branded keywords (paid search)
  • Low CTR on branded keywords (organic search)
  • High cost-per-click (CPC) on branded keywords (paid search)
  • Low ad position/rank on branded keywords (paid search)
  • Other advertisers on branded keywords in Auction Insights (paid search)


Trademark bidders aim to win clicks from your customers. And since any clicks on their ads comes at the expense of traffic to your site, the metrics above can be indicators of their presence. For example, when trademark bidders are advertising on your brand name, that means more competition for clicks. Compared to a scenario with no trademark bidders, that competition decreases the likelihood that you’ll win any given click. And ultimately, that gets reflected in a lower clickthrough rate (CTR) for your ads—and/or your organic listings.

#2: Analytics

You may also be able to find some traces of information in your analytics tools. Not only your own web analytics, but also the reporting or analytics platforms provided by any additional marketing platforms you’re using (e.g. affiliate marketing tools, Comparison Shopping Engine platforms, and distribution platforms).

Again, you can pull these metrics yourself if you have direct access—or simply request that a team member or someone from your agency pull them together. The key is to look for abnormal metrics. Does your data show any anomalies or unexpected performance? Some key indicators of trademark bidding include:

  • Spikes in traffic from specific partners
  • Excessively high conversion rates for specific partners
  • Blank referrers
  • Other suspicious activity (e.g. low quality leads, decreases in direct bookings, etc.)


#3: Manual Testing

While the methods above are useful indicators, they aren’t always conclusive. Sometimes you just have to get the certainty of direct evidence. Manual testing is an excellent way to do that!

Of course, manual methods can quickly become labor intensive as you frantically examine all permutations of keyword, engine, time of day, location, and other variables. But you can get useful insights without having to exhaust every option under the sun. To save yourself some time, we recommend the following:

  • Searching from locations outside of your office (or using the AdWords Ad Preview tool)
  • Searching at times outside of normal business hours
  • Searching on different engines (e.g. Yahoo)
  • Searching for longer tail brand terms (after testing core brand terms)


For many, manual testing consists of simply going to Google on your work computer, during normal work hours, and searching for your brand name. But trademark bidders are smart—they geo-target their ads to locations outside of your company headquarters and daypart to avoid running ads during your working hours. With the methods listed above, you’re much more likely to catch offending ads—even from elusive advertisers.

#4: Automated Monitoring

One-off investigations are great for getting a general sense of trademark bidding. But rough metrics and piecemeal evidence can only get you so far. What if you need more comprehensive information?

Automated monitoring provides a level of thoroughness and detail that other methods can’t. Our Paid Search Monitoring service enables you to crisply understand who’s bidding on your brand, what they’re saying, and how often they’re advertising. Interested in understanding what’s affecting your brand? We’d be happy to give you a complimentary demo to show you how trademark bidders are targeting you.


What Happens if I Catch Someone?

So, once you’ve found a trademark bidder by using one of these approaches (or another approach of your own), what’s next? How do you ensure that you take the appropriate action? In our next post, we’ll discuss the best practices for handling trademark bidding.



Topics: Trademark Bidding

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