Neil McCarthy says online searching has had a dramatic shake-up which could lose business for some.
On the 5 May this year, Google rocked the UK online advertising world by altering its pay strategy to allow companies, for the first time, to bid on their rivals’ previously protected trademark terms.
With 85% of all searches on Google having a brand element in them and new research from Global Reviews showing customers prefer to research insurance online than through any other channel, this seismic change has created one of the largest battles for online presence the marketplace has ever seen.
So will this affect you? Well, I am afraid to say the answer is yes.
Your closest rival, be it Norwich Union, Endsleigh or Churchill has now got the capability of bidding for your brand terms and, if successful, diverting potential clients looking for you, to them.
Fortunately, however, the flip-side of this is that the change to Google’s policy presents an opportunity for you to bid on your competitors’ brand terms as well, increasing your visibility and decreasing theirs.
With opportunities on both sides of the fence, as you can imagine, the impact of this change has already been for some, worse than others.
“Your closest rival, be it Norwich Union, Endsleigh or Churchill, has now got the capability of bidding for your brand terms and, if successful, diverting potential clients looking for you, to them.
So far it has been well known brands which have suffered the most. This is because before the change came into effect they had strong brand protection, which meant nobody else could use their trademark terms, rendering them worthless.
After the change came in, however, a flood of bids from rival companies dramatically raised the ‘cost per click’ of the trademark terms and vast sums had to be paid to buy them back.
So what should you do? Ultimately, the answer is simple – you should balance your spend on generic search terms in order to allocate more budget for the rising costs of trademark terms. For example, as an insurance company, it may be wise to spend less on the search term ‘car insurance’ in order to free up spend for brand terms. Furthermore, in the personal lines arena the change enables the aggregators to encroach on the premium protected territory.
The clever move is therefore to act quickly. If you organise your funds before your competitors, you will free up more money to buy your own terms back and out bid your competitors on theirs.
Our research has already indicated a 120% increase in cost per clicks for trademarked brand terms and we are predicting a rise to 400% in the not so distant future.
Neil McCarthy is chief sales and marketing officer at Latitude.