2013 Adwords Trademark Policy Update – What this means for your business?
2013 Adwords Trademark Policy Update – What this means for your business?

2013 Adwords Trademark Policy Update – What this means for your business?

In Australia, businesses and brands that owned trademarked words or phrases could request from Google that these would be protected at both keyword and adcopy levels. In other words, you were ensured (if your application is approved) that no other advertiser could show when someone is looking for your trademarked keyword.
Earlier this week, Google announced that it was aligning its Adwords Trademark Policy in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong, with the rest of the world.


So what will the Adwords trademark policy change?

From April 23rd 2013, any advertiser will be allowed to show ads on any word or phrase in Google, including their competitor brand names.
So Pepsi will be able to show ads to people searching for ‘Coca Cola’. Mercedes will show ads on Audi searches. And so on.


Will competitors be able to use my trademarks in their ad copy?

No. This will not change (probably ever). While competitors may start showing on your branded searches, they will not be able to use your trademarked terms in their own ad copies (unless your brand name is a very generic term like ‘Online Shirt Shop’).


How will this impact my Google Adwords performance?

Possibly the most important question!
Having PPC ads for your own brand terms is a widespread practice.
Whether your business or product names were trademarked or not, it can only benefit your brand and online presence to have PPC ads. Even if your organic rankings are strong on brand searches, you may have competitor ads broadmatching on longtail keywords. Considering the cheap cost per click (CPCs) on brand terms, it was well worth it.

Moving forward, you will see increased advertising competition on your brand searches.
This will most likely translate in:

  • Lower Click-Through Rate (CTR) – More choice to the people
  • Higher CPCs – Due to a larger number of advertisers ready to pay for that click, and as a result of lower CTR
  • Possibly a lower average position
  • Possibly lower traffic volumes

There is no doubt your ads will still outperform your competitors’, but they will ‘hijack’ some of the traffic which would have normally been taken for granted



Brand campaigns are often overlooked because their performance has been strong for many months, or sometimes years. If you’ve had one running for a long time, it might be worth keeping an eye on its performance around the second half of April. Pay close attention to the traffic metrics as well as conversion rate. Ensure your Quality Scores are not impacted too much as this will contribute to a rise in your CPCs.

Competitor campaigns: Note that while advertisers may start showing on your branded searches, you may also start showing your own ads on their brand searches. This is not something I usually recommend for the following reasons:

  • Ethics – You’re just like a human billboard standing in front of a street shop door, telling entering customers to go next door instead. But if that’s the game your competitors are playing, you might as well abide to their rules.
  • Bid wars – “You’re doing it so I’m doing it”. This may trigger a bid war which can get ugly.
  • Low ROI – Lower Quality Scores, higher CPCs, lower conversion rate. You may see poor performance.

Importance of ranking high organically: Ensure you ‘own’ the search engine result page when it comes to branded searches. If competition increases on the paid search front, having strong organic rankings may save the day. Make sure you monitor your organic rankings and traffic, and have a SEO strategy.


If you require any help with your Adwords campaigns, organic search engine optimisation or any other digital marketing campaigns, get in touch with the Reef team today!

How we can help you

We can help you drive digital marketing performance by using the world’s most powerful digital marketing channels to full effect

How we can help you

Get a proposal

Would you like to see how Reef can improve your digital marketing campaigns? We welcome the opportunity to share our best ideas with you

Get a proposal