Several major Google advertisers seem to have adopted a common war cry – “Get these pigs off of our backs!”
The tactic is called “piggybacking” and major corporations are tired of Google pimping out their valuable trademarks to smaller companies.
With piggybacking, smaller and lesser known advertisers use a large corporation’s well branded and recognized trademarks in an effort to enhance their ability to draw more qualified traffic from Google Adsense listings. The problem is not a new one. In fact, it has been occurring for several years despite Google’s written policy against the practice.
The question is “If Google has a policy against the practice, why does it continue to occur with such frequency?” Can you say – Moolah? Yes, the “do no evilers” at Google seem to be turning a blind eye, lest they disrupt that free flowing revenue stream called Adsense.
The problem for the corporations is that while Google continues milking the cow, it’s the advertisers that are feeling the drain. Rising market demand continues to send “keyword” prices climbing (sounds like more opportunity for SEO’s), and it now seems the big players have had enough. Several major travel and hospitality companies, such as Marriott, American Airlines and Northwest Airlines, have threatened Google that if the practice continues, there will be consequences. In fact, in August 2007, American Airlines filed suit against Google in a federal court seeking monetary damages for trademark infringement. The case is still open.
Leverage is another way to induce “behavior modification”, and although the big advertisers surely spend a great deal, there is a problem. How do you threaten a company that owned over 70% of the search market in 2007, and that continues to capture market share? Sure, Google investigates individual violations when brought to their attention; however the situation is similar to Ebay turning a blind eye to the tens of thousands of vendors that hawk branded “Made in China” knockoffs. At the end of the day, it pays to let the abusers play.
The bottom line? The only way the big advertisers are going to get the Google act is if they unite and make it financially more painful for Google if they don’t act. Well, my friends, that’s like asking baseball owners to control their budgets and stop paying guys like Alex Rodriguez a quarter billion dollars to play a boy’s game. It ain’t gonna happen.
Rejoice piggybackers – for the foreseeable future, it seems you can continue living – “High on the hog”.
What say you Pilgrims?