Online advertising is an important part of building brand awareness online – whether on top search engines or popular social media platforms. And advertising based on the mention of competing brands is a complex and often unsafe way of promotion that requires legal knowledge. But first things first.
Search Engine Marketing: Using Competitor Names in Google Ads
You can increase your brand position on relevant search queries by using competitors’ names in your ads:
- Company names. For example, optimization of PepsiCo ads for the keywords of the closest competitor Coca-Cola.
- Branded products. Pepsi Brand Use Sprite Keys to Optimize Sierra Mist Pages.
- The names of the leaders of competing companies, ideological leaders. Promoting the name of Walmart Director Doug McMillon at the request of Jeff Bezos (founder and CEO of Amazon).
Search Google for a well-known brand and you will find advertisements for similar brands. Bidding on branded terms using third party keywords reflects the English term Brand Bidding. The idea is to redirect the audience from company Y to company Z: when netizens find the second one in the search results first.
The tactic applies to Google Adwords, Yahoo !, Bing, and other ad platforms. However, it is important to follow the rules to avoid legal consequences. Before you start promoting through Google Ads, you need to familiarize yourself with the recommendations for search advertising, including regarding trademarks. Google protects the interests of their owners and encourages them to comply with local laws when setting up ads. The restrictions do not apply to the choice of keywords.
To ensure legitimate advertising, do not include trademarked text in your ad and ensure that product and service descriptions do not mislead users about their origin.
Tips for using competitors’ names as keywords
- Form a USP. You have to grab the attention of users looking for a competing brand. Focus on the distinctive advantages: products are of better quality and cheaper, the terms of cooperation are more convenient and profitable.
- Don’t overdo it in your quest to take the lead in the SERP. Even if you are not in the top, you will receive traffic from an audience that is interested in finding alternatives to a particular brand.
- Do not use names in advertising copy. For example, if you sell athletic shoes, it is not allowed to write “Our shoes are better than Nike” – this is a reason for the owner company to file a complaint against you. The exception is advertisers who have permission to use the brand in ads, resellers, information resources.
Do not forget that competitors can bet on you, including reciprocating. Therefore, before you start creating such advertising campaigns, think: if you become the one who started the “game”, you will involve “opponents” in it and nullify your peaceful coexistence. The retaliatory actions may be more aggressive than the ones you have taken. For example, outperforming you in PPC investment, ad placement, and keys used will undermine your niche reputation. Match the potential implications with your business interests.
Read about how to properly respond to the negative that has developed through the fault of the company in our other article.
Social media marketing: mentioning third-party brands in advertising content
The rise in popularity of social media has helped blur the lines between personal and commercial content. This is especially true of individuals / brands who publish both types of content in the profile.
A case that happened in 2019 perfectly illustrates the problem: the Ferrari brand filed a complaint against fashion designer Philip Plein for posting a photo of designer sneakers on the hood of its Ferrari car on his Instagram page. Such actions were regarded as the use of the brand for personal advertising purposes. Celebrities often find themselves in conflict situations when they share photos taken by the paparazzi without having the right to do so.
If you are interested in using a third party brand on a social media or blog, follow these guidelines:
- Consider whether you have to include a third-party brand? If yes, it is more logical to leave a link to a competitor and do without including a trademark in the advertising content, for example, shoot a video so that it does not appear there at all.
- Check if the trademark is registered and ask for permission from the owner. Having received consent, you will be sure that nothing will interfere with the promotion.
- Find Something To Be Distinguished: Focus on your logo by displaying it prominently, and ditch branded fonts and designs. Mentioning competing brands (it is better to take not one, but several, so as not to emphasize attention), make it descriptive and unobtrusive.
- Do not discredit competitors, do not create negative associations with a product, service, trade name, avoid incorrect comparisons.
- Do not “associate” your brand with a more influential one, so as not to confuse consumers about the origin of a particular product and not to misappropriate other people’s dignity.
So, when it comes to promotion on a well-known brand, one thing can be said for sure: the quarrel between the largest Italian automaker Ferrari and the German fashion designer Philip Plein, alas, is hardly one of the last. But this example should be a lesson for everyone: regardless of whether you plan to advertise on Google or promote on social networks, be serious about mentioning competitors, strictly following the rules of the site and relevant laws.