Its been 4 months now since the change in Googles trademark policy in the UK which opened up bidding on previously restricted trademarked keywords inline with the U.S.

I analysed the landscape 2 days after the change was put in place and noted that even in that short 2 day period many advertisers who decided to place adverts against their competitors keywords had already been slapped out of the bidding due to poor quality scores from low click through rates.

4 months down the line, have there been any further changes to the same brands?.

Interestingly, there are again less competitor adverts against the brands analysed previously which all had competing adverts against their brand (with some strange broad matches aswell).

Now that’s only 6 brands, so a very small sample size to say for sure. Using the Adwords preview tool removes any personalisation and does show some ads against the last two brands in particular. But notice the higher CPC markets such as car insurance firms have seen a reduction aswell. Elephant, Money Supermarket, U Switch etc all the same with far less paid adverts.

Why?

Click through rates are king in Adwords.

If you cannot maintain a high enough CTR, you will have to pay through the nose to appear, often meaning it’s completely unrealistic from an ROI perspective. Google recently announced further changes to how it calculates quality score, meaning an even greater emphasis on relevancy and CTR.

Google still profiting from the change

So while CTR has meant it’s extremely difficult to bid against high volume previously trademarked keywords, just how many more advertisers are bidding against their own brand as protection now?.

Back in June Hitwise noted a big increase in paid brand searches

Before Google’s changes took effect (4 weeks ending 12/04/2008), 9.2% of the search traffic that the top 100 online brands in the UK received from their top brand term came via a paid listing on a search engine. However for the his figure went up to 11.2% – equivalent to an increase of 22% – during the first four weeks after the changes took effect (4 weeks ending 31/05/2008).

So the question is now – Should advertisers still be running branded adverts incurring that cost when it’s so difficult for competitors to appear there? Would the money in many cases not be better spent elsewhere?

If you have competitors bidding against your brand it makes sense to protect youself – but how many advertisers are now running an advert against their brand without any competition ‘just incase’?

Has Google scared advertisers to spend more merely through fear of protecting themselves?.

It would be interesting to see a further update by Robin Goad and the Hitwise team on the changes.