Probably one of the most material and controversial changes for the UK and Irish paid search markets is almost upon us – the relaxation of the trademark protection Google currently affords to brands will cease on 5 May 2008.

As Ivan Izikowitz writes, some analysts and industry experts have taken the cynical view that this is merely a way for Google to stimulate volume and/or increased prices at a time when its revenue growth is slowing.

There is another perspective, however…

As everyone knows, a brand owner with good awareness and possibly consistent above-the-line advertising has been able to buy “brand traffic” in a non-competitive environment.

In practical terms, this traffic is substantially lower cost when compared to either generic or product related clicks, and often converts at a much higher rate too.

Brand owners – either directly or via their advertising agency – have consequently used the brand to run PPC campaigns which deliver solid performance.

From our perspective, however, comprehensive PPC coverage should incorporate generic, product as well as brand campaigns.

The apparent success of these brand campaigns often mask the fact that there are poor, or in some cases non-existent, generic and product campaigns.

Now this is where the levelling comes in…

With the trademark restrictions removed, it will be almost open season on brand bidding with the prices (and volumes) certain to rise.

The brands should still get their traffic at lower cost to competitors due to the relevance of their sites and landing pages etc, but will probably struggle to achieve their current performance.

The overall impact of this could be that brand owners could begin to look beyond the brand and focus on the real expertise required to deliver true multi-dimensional paid search campaigns.

There is much hype and speculation as to how the trademark change will impact the market, the operational aspects of setting up and running campaigns, the enforcement offered by Google (if any) and the prices competitors are willing to pay.

The true impact will only be known some time after the 5th May where today, the only certain winner is Google.

Ivan Izikowitz is the Managing Director of

Clicks2Customers UK Limited