UK Ad Agencies Angered at Google's 'All Comers' Keyword Bidding

14 April 2008

LONDON: The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising – the body representing British advertising, media and marketing communications agencies – is angered at Google's unilateral move to open-up keyword ad bidding, including trade-marked brand names, to all comers. 

From May 5, Google will cease to grant advertisers an exclusive right to bid on single-word own brand keywords for ads served to users in the UK and Ireland.

Which means that surfers who type in a trademarked brand name will also see rival brands appearing in the search results alongside those for the brand they sought. 

The IPA has declared its concern at "Google's unexpected and radical trademark policy change".

Under the new plan a specific search for, say, O2-brand mobile phones would see Google also serving-up Vodafone, Orange, BT and others.

Complains IPA head of digital Nigel Gwilliam: "The scale and manner of impact will vary enormously between advertisers, and this won't necessarily be limited to paid-for search strategies, but also natural search, online advertising as a whole and in some cases offline activity.

"This unilateral move by Google shifts the goalposts for all brand owners in the UK. More than ever they need to work closely with their agencies to assess the impact of this hastily introduced policy change on their search and communications strategies."

Such protests are unlikely to cut much ice with the Californian colossus, whose eagerness to get closer to its advertisers of late is not unlike that of an anaconda tightening its coils around the victim it is about to swallow.

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