Friday, September 16, 2005

Stop the brand pirates

Search engines have come under fire from travel companies for a lack of accountability and failure to protect the conusmer.
Speaking at the EyeForTravel conference in Berlin last week, Travelodge director of brand marketing Alistair Buckle said he was annoyed at search engines’ trademark protection policy, which protects brand names but not the misspellings of organizations.
“You would not believe the number of people that type in Travelodge as two words. If the consumer is in charge then why does the law not protect them when they are booking?
It’s up to the search engines to do something about companies advertising against names they are nothing to do with.”
Buckle said his concern was not just for himself and other advertisers – but primarily for the consumer.
"It's not a case of hotels or airlines whingeing about these pirates, it's the customer who will get irrelevant information thrown at them and ultimately go elsewhere."
Buckle, who was head of marketing at EasyJet for five years, called on Google to wheedle out the guilty companies advertising on their rivals names.
"Why doesn't the law not protect the customer against being misled? If someone types the word EasyJet into a search it's because they want information on that brand, not on a site called '' or something. Customers hate irrelevant information."
Columbus Travel Insurance managing director Sydney Henderson said it had been forced to threaten legal action against brand pirates. He said searches for its direct brand, Columbus Direct, sometimes produced companies using Columbus Insurance and Direct Line in the same sentence.
"We have to take legal action when this happens, the solicitors letter is not good enough."
EasyJet, despite having already trademarked its names with Google and Overture, said there are still companies using its name in their websites.
Digital and customer marketing manager Angelina Demetri said: "There are always companies that slip the EasyJet name in their website pages and we have a group of people having to trawl through the Internet to find them."
Demetri denied EasyJet used rivals names within its own pages.
Based on the results of a survey by US search engine marketing company Enquiro, which found 70% of consumers choose click natural listings and only 30% click on sponsored results, Travelodge is experimenting with not bidding on its own keywords to see what effect it has on traffic.

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