Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Brand Abuse By Search Engines..How Can It be Fixed?

Great story from NewMediaAge.co.uk Search companies must consider the cost of brand abuse.

Search is the great success story of online advertising. It accounts for some 40% of online ad spend, which means that now more is spent on search than is spent on cinema advertising. Brands now realise not only that search is a powerful customer acquisition tool but that it's a vital part of a complete media strategy.

But this level of success is bringing its own problems. Or rather, it's bringing some of the existing problems into sharper relief. There have always been areas of questionable practice within search, from the early days of search engine optimisation to the misuse of brand names and keywords we report on our cover. The difference now is the level of importance placed on search and the amount of money spent on it.

I think you're going to find companies take a closer look at what they have spent for Internet advertising and the traffic/business that has been generated from it. In my opinion, they will realize it's not that effective and will be looking for a better way.

Brand protection online has always been problematic. The difficulties of tracking the use, or abuse, of a brand across millions of Web sites have given rise to all sorts of specialist services and companies. In the world of pay-per-click search, the problem is even more complex, as the relationships between a brand and its affiliates and dealers proliferate and as different companies take different approaches to the use of their brands online.

What if you take out the "per click" in pay per click.

This is the crux of the problem: who should police search as the stakes rise? There are three main candidates: the search companies, the brands and the agencies working for the brands. The PPC search companies' policy is generally to advise firms what is and isn't acceptable, but that's as far as they go, arguing that there are too many search entries for them to police, passing the responsibility back to the brands. If a company complains then about a misuse of its brand, the search engines will intervene. Or the courts will.

The question for the search engines now must be whether brands will continue to accept this approach, or start to put pressure on them to take responsibility for the use of brand names on their networks, with all the costs that implies.

The advertiser wants traffic to his site. The search engine wants to get paid for advertising on his site. The consumer wants relevant search results.

What if advertisers could direct traffic without a search engine?
Would they be interested?


Anonymous said...


The future does point more to navigation than to search - especially in the mobile world. The navigation paradigm would give the brands what they want by making sure when a person wants info on "coke" he/she is taken to the coke website - not another cola company. In a lot of your previous posts, you mention that there is a way that allows this to happen. I, too, believe this will happen. What is your gut feeling as to when this change will happen? Will it be an MVNO like Virgin that gets the ball rolling? (I read all of your previous posts) or another new player in the same space?


Scott Shaffer said...

I dont see MVNO as being the app. I see SMS first (because its so easy and doesnt rely on broadband).

AS far the "new player" entering the space, I see a few. Everyone thinks they have THE solution, but in truth , it will be more than one.

AS far as clicking on Coke goes, that's great if you want to be directed to a brand name. But what value will the word "cola" have then? I dont see myself clicking on this word.

The trademarks are good for identifiers ONLY for navigation. If I want pizza boca raton and only one person has that word, it's pretty limiting dont you think?

That is why I say there will be a few players. Stay tuned I will have interviews on my blog with all of the companies I see as being players in the physical world hyperlink space.

But yes, we are in the first inning of the game in spring training. Don't determine whos going to the World Series yet.

Scott Shaffer said...

There's a solution that both search enignes and brands would like. I think I have a great solution.
Meanwhile I'll let these guys waste their time in court battling it out. Let the attorneys earn their fees.
They both will have to give a little to be happy, but with some receptive thinking, I could offer a MSFT or Google a way to dominate mobile search.