Google Keyword Bidding Invokes UK Advertisers' Ire

08 April 2008

LONDON: British ad agencies – and not only online marketing specialists – are up in arms at Google's latest tactics to enhance its ad revenues. As are a number of major marketers.

From 5 May Google will cease to restrict keywords for ads served to users in the UK and Ireland. Which means that surfers who key-in a trademarked brand name will also see rival brands appearing in the search results alongside those for the brand for which they had sought. 

For example: a specific search for O2-brand mobile phones would also serve up Vodafone, Orange, BT and others.

Marketers and agencies alike are angered, claiming that the practice will allow rival companies to profit from decades of investment in consolidating brand names and values.

Google, which some believe is becoming more mealy-mouthed by the minute, insists that this is nothing to do with maximising ad revenues in the face of declining click-throughs.

Perish the thought, claims Google UK director Matt Brittin: "We are making this change because we want to give users greater choices to help them make informed decisions.

"Advertisers are accustomed to the fact that users searching for their trademarked terms as part of a phrase may see ads from competitors." 

Comments Gavin Sinden, a director of direct response media agency EquiMedia "This seems like an attempt by Google to increase bid values and volume of bids on a huge range of terms.

"This is very difficult to justify in terms of Google's avowed policy of trying to serve the consumer by increasing relevance."

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff