Some interesting talk today of ways of using paid search to play with your competitors. I am sure many advertisers have noticed incorrect prices, promotions, erroring destination urls or just plain poor adverts for their own campaigns – whether it be down to an in-house team, their agency or affiliates.
It can be a very frustrating process tracking down who is running the offending advert and getting it amended to display accurate information.
The reason is anyone can run any advert as anyone else. I can run an advert with the display url set as any company in the world. So can anyone else.
Sounds strange that someone might be willing to pay to do this if they are an competitor. But by doing this a person or company can set about a negative ad campaign against their competitor. It could be a fairly minor thing to something much, much naughtier.
Take for example if I were a competitor of both DialAFlight and Flight Centre.
DialAFlight have just released a statement saying it is instituting legal proceedings against Flight Centre for infringement of their trademark.
Flight Centre say they have removed the ‘DialAFlight’ keyword phrase from their campaign. This is not the first time DialAFlight have warned Flight Centre apparently.
So imagine what a competitor can do to really wind this situation up by just displaying a little advert against DialAFlight as Flight Centre. I’d imagine that would not go down well.
Another example might be where all competition within a niche are playing nice, not bidding against each others brands out of respect. There is an almost unspoken mutual agreement in place of ‘don’t bid against me, I won’t bid against you’.
So you could shake it up a little and start running competitors adverts against your other competitors.
You might just find that the competitors you are running adverts against spot this and react by now advertising against the company you were acting as.
Time to remove your own advert and watch the company you have been advertising as now run their own advert against the competitor because they spot their advert.
Oh the fun.
I am certainly not recommending anyone to do this. In fact, I am recommending people not to do this as there are more intelligent ways to spend your advertising budget. But I have seen some cases of this over the past few months and it’s something to keep an eye as we might see more cases.
More on black hat PPC techniques here.