Let’s consider the websites for three similar ecommerce businesses; Wiggle, Dales Cycles and Evans Cycles:
Next, let’s consider customer behaviour for potential buyers that are looking to buy from one of these three different sellers. The potential buyer may well start their journey via Google and request “Wiggle cycles”, “Dales Cycles” or Evans Cycles” via a search. Google results would look like:
The majority of potential buyers would then simply click on the first result. For both Wiggle and Dales Cycles the first result is a paid advert. This costs the two companies money out of their paid marketing budget even though their websites already rank number one for SEO. Evans Cycles has not paid for brand Adwords, i.e. it does not spend money to hijack it’s own organic top listing.
One reason why some companies make the mistake of paying twice for a top listing is either because they believe that occupying even more space at the top of a search engine results page is good or because competitors have bid on their brand name.
The first point is incorrect. If you look at the Google results, each of the brands occupies plenty of space with links that take potential buyers straight to their site. Any business that was unsure about this could quickly undertake some A/B testing to confirm.
The second point about competitors hijacking a competitor brand name has already been addressed by Google. Their policy is that, once informed, they will not allow Trademarked terms to be bid on by anyone other than the Trademark owner. If you hold a Trademark for your brand name then you may need to inform Google. The application form for this is here.
If we look at the Trademark status of the three brands, the results from the UK Government Intellectual Property Office are shown below:
Wiggle has Trademarked the term “Wiggle”, Evans Cycles has trademarked the term “Evans Cycles” while Dales have no associated brand Trademark.
Wiggle probably spend many (tens of?) thousands of Pounds a year paying for Google Ads that hijack their existing organic listings. Although the name ‘Wiggle’ has meanings beyond the cycle brand, they could easily gain trademark protection for brand searches that were cycle related.
Evans Cycles understand Trademarking and have made effective use of their Intellectual Property to minimise the costs of paid advertising and to stop competitors hijacking their brand name searches.
Dales Cycles are paying money for Google adverts that would be unnecessary if they Trademarked their brand. They are paying money for Google Adwords that, almost certainly, are generating no additional sales.
In the final analysis, ecommerce is about money. Paid marketing is an essential component for any ecommerce player and the goal should be to increase Return On Ad Spend (ROAS). Given that it only costs £170 (for 10 years, i.e. £17 a year) to register a Trademark, this is an example of where correct Intellectual Property protection can save a business a lot of money. Many of the companies that come to INDEZ in order to improve their ecommerce marketing performance are paying out on Adword campaigns that they do not need to.
Finally, it’s worth noting that this Trademarking tip does not apply to Bing. Microsoft dropped their policy over the use of Trademarks in advertising. This does mean that if competitor brand hijacking is part of your marketing strategy then, provided you have deep pockets, bing.com could become part of your strategy for growth.