One potential bright spot in the debate over handling search advertising traffic from parked domains and typo squatting is understanding how domainers use trademarked names illegally to boost revenues. By sifting through paid search traffic, search advertisers discover they’ve been charged for traffic from their own trademarked names.
Search marketers often include the names of competitors in keyword target lists, and search providers have policies such as ensuring that the ads displayed do not include the trademarked term unless the site associated with it is promoting that brand or making sure brand names aren’t used in a negative context. But in the end, it’s up to the advertisers to ensure the policies are enforced. There is a clear process for submitting complaints, and the major search engines are usually quick to take action, potentially banning the offending advertiser from ever using the trademarked term again.
One form of brand infringement is when parked domains include a trademarked term in their URLs. Instead of reaching an official site, users see a list of ads for related products from other companies. Even worse is accidental misspellings. This brings a list of providers that use the brand name in their advertisements.
Our research has found that traffic from brand infringing sites is actually some of the best there is, with conversion rates exceeding 50% for some customers. Search marketers can capture these high-quality leads simply by applying a fresh eye to the analysis of campaign results. By looking at the sources of paid traffic that drive conversions, brand owners can identify trademark infringement and prioritize those sites requiring corrective action.
An effective course of action for trademark infringement is to submit a complaint directly to the domain name registrar. All domain name registrars now conform to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy published by ICANN. This policy is widely acknowledged to be friendly to trademark owners, and filing a complaint is a relatively inexpensive administrative procedure.