Here is the ball, play amongst yourselves, let us know if anyone gets hurt!

Microsoft Adcenter has come up with a revision to the way they handle trademarked terms in Adcenter ads. It is essentially saying this

  • Advertiser: Get permission.
  • Trademark Holder: Make sure you police your trademark.

This policy is essentially like throwing kids into a school yard and asking them to play nice. If you don’t play nice, yell for the teacher. We’ll get there when we can.

Here is an excerpt from the trademark policy email MSFT just sent out.

What’s changing?
It will now be the advertiser’s responsibility to obtain permission from the trademark owner to use a trademarked term in their ads. It will also be the trademark owner’s responsibility to address ongoing incorrect usage of their trademark term(s) directly with third-party advertisers. Microsoft adCenter will no longer intercede to obtain permission for the advertiser wanting to use a trademarked term.

What does this mean for my search advertising?

  1. Your ads may display next to other ads that contain your trademarked terms.
  2. Affiliates, resellers, and third parties may show up against queries for your trademarked terms.
  3. Competitor’s ads may show up in search results against queries for trademarks in certain scenarios, due to match types other than exact.
    For example, if a generic term is included in the overall search query, advertisers who bid on the generic term may show up in the search results.

I can’t say that I blame Microsoft for changing this policy. What will be most interesting is to see how they handle the Trademark Concern complaints.

  • What proof will the request to display that you have permission to use a trademark?
  • What proof will the require that a trademark holder is, in fact, the trademark holder?

There are a lot of questions. If they were a bigger player in the PPC field, it would matter more. For now, it is just an interesting topic.

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