Recently, Google updated their trademark guidelines to restrict the use of trademarks by lead generators. If you work with lead generation partners, they are no longer allowed to use your trademarks in paid search. And we believe this is a good thing.
A Loophole for Trademark Bidders
In the past, any lead generator could use your trademark to lure traffic to their site and generate leads through free quotes, comparisons, or offers on anything from insurance policies to online education programs. That might be okay if it’s a known partner that has your permission to trademark bid—but a lot of these generators were doing it without permission. And frequently without any relationship to the brand.
Many brands complained that lead generators were masquerading as partners while diverting traffic away from them and selling the leads to competing organizations. Google’s historical stance was that they did not want to be a third-party negotiator of business relationships. As a result, they did not intervene and anyone that looked like a partner was afforded fair use trademark protection.
What does it look like when lead generators do this? Through BrandVerity’s Paid Search Monitoring tool, I found a lead generator, ZipQuote.com, using Hagerty Insurance’s trademark on a search for their brand.
Clicking on the advertisement takes you to the landing page below, which includes six pages of form fills.
So, What’s Changed?
Google’s new policy clearly states that it will no longer allow third-party ads that use your trademark for the purpose of