On Tuesday February 16, 2011 Microsoft announced that they are making changes to their Intellectual Property Guidelines. The most important change was announcing that starting on March 3rd, 2011, adCenter will no longer review trademark keyword complaints; however, adCenter will continue to investigate brand owner complaints related to trademark use in text.
Microsoft does point out that if there is a concern that an advertiser may be using a trademark keyword inappropriately, the trademark owner should contact the advertiser directly. In layman’s terms, Bing will once again allow bidding on trademarked terms and use of competitors’ trademarks in your ad text under certain circumstances. The use of a competitor’s trademark in your ads will only be allowed if the use is truthful and lawful, for example, your ad compares your own product’s attributes to those of your competitor’s product; however, you must do the following:
- Present the trademark in the context that is cited in the ad.
- Feature related research clearly and prominently on the landing page.
So why is this so important? It can be important for a number of reasons:
- Search advertisers will now have to employ both offensive and defensive brand strategies on Bing similar to what you’re used to doing on Google.
- If you’ve had successful competitive bidding on Google, this is an obvious opportunity to roll those same campaigns out on Bing.
- More active creative testing becomes a necessity to measure effectiveness on Bing.
- More aggressive bidding to ensure 100% impression share and first position ranking on your own trademarked terms.
- Most importantly it means that Bing will not fight the battle for you if someone else uses your trademark.
This really isn’t new landscape for people that already use Google since Bing’s new trademark policy closely resembles thetrademark policy implemented by Google in May 2010. I know most advertisers don’t use Bing if they’re using Google since Google still holds 66.6% of all search results on the web*, but Binghoo! is gaining every month and now holds 28% of all search results on the web. If people can now bid on your trademark you might need to think about at least running a small campaign to keep the message that you want to deliver to your customers or to at least come up in the top position, even if it’s for a small amount of traffic.