Updated July 27, 2017

 

To the delight of many, Google announced an update in their AdWords trademark policy that will go live on June 15th for advertisers in the U.S. only.

In short, a few categories of advertisers who were previously unable to use a trademarked term in their ad text will be allowed to do so – even if they don’t own the trademark or have explicit approval from the trademark owner to use it.

These lucky advertisers include the following:


So for any of these types of advertisers who have ever felt the pain of bidding on a trademarked keyword but were unable to use the actual term in their ad text, rejoice! By allowing advertisers to highlight their specific inventory to users and create more specific ad creatives, Google intends for the increased query to ad text relevancy to boost CTRs, improve Quality Scores, and increase conversion rates.

Dan Friedman of the Inside AdWords crew makes a great analogy on the AdWords blog, likening the problem to newspaper ads from a supermarket only listing the categories of products on sale, such as “Buy discount cola” and “Snacks on sale”. Would this really be any good to you if you didn’t know what kind of cola or snacks were being offered? Not at all, and so this is why Google is making this change to improve ad quality and user experience by discouraging overly generic and low quality ads.

As a simple PPC example, let’s say that you’re a company who retails Boston Red Sox merchandise online (what great timing for this policy update!). The MLB has always been especially stringent on policing their trademark laws, so if Mr. HugeRedSoxFan Googles “boston red sox apparel”, he’ll see your ad with others that have fairly generic headlines such as “Boston Team Apparel“, “Boston Baseball Apparel“, etc., with the exception being the official Shop.MLB.com ad that has “Boston Red Sox Apparel” as the headline.

Under the new policy, you’ll be able to specifically state in your ad that the apparel you sell is not just any random Boston team or Boston baseball organization apparel, but is in fact Boston Red Sox Apparel. It’s just what Mr. HugeRedSoxFan is searching for, and he’ll have no doubt about what you’re selling if he clicks on your ad.

Of course, there are advertisers who aren’t particularly overjoyed by this new update.

Starting June 15th, trademark owners may see their trademarked term ads blending in with the landscape and also lose their previously clear CTR/Quality Score advantage. For trademark owners as well as those bidding on trademarked terms, it will be imperative to not lose focus on differentiating your offer within your ad text when the new policy takes effect. Also, for competitors, critics, and counterfeiters — sorry, but you’re still not allowed to use trademarked terms in your ad text.

So for all you lucky advertisers:

*To determine which ads adhere to the new policy and are eligible to run, Google will check BOTH the creative and the landing page content. Your site must either sell (or clearly facilitate the sale of) goods or services corresponding to a trademarked term, or as information site you must clearly provide non-competitive and informative details about the goods or service corresponding to the trademarked term. Therefore, make sure that your landing pages meet these guidelines!