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Search engine giant, Google, has made some changes to its Adwords policy that will help pay-per-click campaigns in the Europe.  The rule switch will allow competitors to use trademarked terms in their advertisements, which will be particularly beneficial to comparison sites.  Adword’s product manager, Dan Stokeley, gives an example of how this will help both consumers and comparison sites:  “Resellers of jeans have been able to highlight the actual brands they sell in their ad text, making their ads even more specific and relevant for users.”

Adwords allows sites to bid to keywords; these help your site land on the right side of search results pages, under “Sponsored Ads,” and sometimes even with the regular results.  When a searcher clicks through to your ad, you pay Google.  This is a major source of revenue for Google: ad revenues brought in $23 billion for the company in 2009.  Changes in the policy will allow European Adwords customers “to use third party trademarks in their ad text, even if they don’t own that trademark or have explicit approval from the trademark owner to use it.”

This has been the standard policy followed in the US since 2004 and in the UK since 2008.  After September 14 of this year, most of Europe will adopt the changes allowing trademarked terms to be used by competitors.  The European Court of Justice ruled in March that Google could allow bidding on trademarked keywords, which met with disapproval from brand owners, including LVMH Moët Hennessy Vuitton.  The argument was that only they or authorised sites should be able to use these terms.

If trademark owners think that their keywords are being used in a misleading or confusing manner, they can file a complaint with Google.  Partner at London legal firm Ashurst, Dominic Batchelor said, “The onus will be on rights holders to monitor and assert their rights.  How readily Google responds to complaints about infringement use remains to be seen.”  Google stresses that they will fight against trademarked terms being used for counterfeit brands.

The Adwords changes are expected to benefit the travel, finance, and electronics industries most.

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