Complete guide to PPC brand protection

As brands vie for visibility and market share, understanding the nuances of PPC brand protection is key. This guide delves into its intricacies, determining why you need it, and the strategies to fight ad hijacking, combat trademark infringement, and dominate search results.


Intro: Get to grips with PPC brand protection

The strongest paid search strategy builds on your brand’s unique value. Here, you control the customer experience and messaging, driving traffic that converts in search via Google Ads. Your brand terms, message, and unique selling points are yours to leverage – and in paid search, they should be your safe haven.

But with competition fierce, protecting your brand in paid search is crucial. Let’s unlock the secrets of PPC brand protection, safeguarding your reputation and optimizing your campaigns for success.

What is brand bidding and why is it crucial for businesses?

Let’s start with the basics. What is brand bidding? Simply put, brand bidding is the process of bidding on specific brand-related keywords to gain greater visibility on the search engine results pages (SERP) of search engines such as Google.

Here’s the twist: brand bidding isn’t just about promoting yourself. Businesses can also bid on their competitors’ brand names to grab attention and potentially win over interested customers. Done right, this can lead to a surge in website traffic, leads, and ultimately, sales.

Legal considerations and implications of using brand trademarks

Legal and trademark rules, particularly regarding brand bidding on search engines, involve a combination of general trademark laws and search engine policies. Here’s a breakdown:

General trademark laws:

  • Trademark protection: Trademarks are protected intellectual property that grant exclusive rights to use a particular mark (e.g a brand name, logo, slogan) in commerce. This protection extends to preventing others from using similar marks that could cause consumer confusion.
  • Infringement: This refers to the unauthorized use of a trademark in a way that causes confusion or dilutes the brand’s distinctiveness.
  • Enforcement: Trademark owners have the right to enforce their marks and take legal action against infringers

Search engine policies:

  • Brand bidding policies: Search engines like Google have policies governing the use of trademarks in advertising, including brand bidding. These policies aim to prevent advertisers from bidding on trademarked terms they don’t own.
  • AdWords policies: Google’s AdWords policies typically restrict advertisers from using trademarked terms in ad text unless they have explicit permission from the trademark owner. However, bidding on trademarked terms as keywords may be allowed in certain circumstances, such as when the ad doesn’t use the trademark in the ad text and when the landing page provides relevant information about the trademarked product or service.
  • Quality Score impact: Advertisers bidding on trademarked terms may experience lower Quality Scores and higher costs per clicks (CPCs) if their ads are deemed less relevant due to trademark restrictions.

Impact on brand bidding:

  • Permission requirements: In some cases, advertisers may need explicit permission from the trademark owner to bid on their branded terms.

  • Competitive landscape: Brand bidding allows competitors to target a brand’s audience directly, potentially diverting traffic and customers away from the brand’s own ads.

  • Legal risks: Bidding on trademarked terms without permission can lead to legal action for trademark infringement.

  • Strategic considerations: Despite restrictions, brand bidding can still be a valuable strategy for advertisers looking to capture market share or compete more effectively in search engine results pages.

Overall, navigating trademark laws and search engine policies requires careful consideration to ensure compliance and protect brand interests while maximizing advertising effectiveness.

What is PPC brand protection?

Your brand deserves to be in control. But in the fast-paced world of paid search, competitors, resellers, and even affiliates can exploit your brand for their own gain. How?

Keyword Bidding: They might bid on your brand terms, causing your ads to drop in search results.

Trademark Misuse: They could use your brand name or trademarks in their ads, misleading customers, and diverting traffic.

PPC brand protection is your shield. It safeguards your online presence and reputation by keeping your brand front and center in search engines, protecting hard-earned brand equity, and ensures your customers find you first.

Importance of PPC brand protection

PPC brand Protection is an essential part of paid search as it helps safeguard your brand from competitors, affiliates and resellers capitalising on your brands equity, potentially damaging its reputation and driving up costs.

PPC brand Protection is an essential part of paid search as it helps safeguard your brand from competitors, affiliates and resellers capitalising on your brands equity, potentially damaging its reputation and driving up costs.
Trademark infringements divert as much as 21.5% of a typical brand’s clickshare to competitors. They’re stealing clicks that are rightfully yours.
Radio and TV ads can do a great job driving demand for your brand, but only if search helps close the deal. Search is a critical part of the funnel and can be the single point of failure for your entire investment if you let rivals steal demand.
One lost customer (and associated data) can snowball into tens of thousands of dollars over that customer’s lifetime.
PPC brand protection is essential to protecting your clicks from competitors

Measure the success of your brand protection strategy 

Now that you’ve implemented your brand protection strategy, it’s crucial to track its effectiveness. Here’s how to measure the success of your efforts and ensure your brand remains king of the search results castle.

Reduced trademark infringement:

  • Manual reviews: Regularly monitor search results for your brand terms to identify instances of competitors or affiliates potentially infringing on your trademarks in their ad copy. The decrease in such occurrences over time indicates a successful brand protection strategy.
  • Alert systems: Utilize tools such as Adthena’s Infringement Tracker that can automatically detect and notify you of potential trademark infringements in paid ads. A decrease in alerts suggests your efforts are working.

Metrics showing increase control:

  • Brand Search Share: As your brand protection efforts take hold, you should see an increase in your brand search share. This means your ads are appearing more frequently when users search for your brand terms, pushing out potential hijackers.
  • CTR for brand terms: A healthy and stable CTR for your brand terms suggests users are clicking on your legitimate ads and not being misled by imposters.
  • CPC for brand terms: Ideally, as your brand protection strategy improves, your CPC for brand terms should decrease. This is because you’re facing less competition from hijackers driving up the cost of bidding on your own keywords.

Indirect brand protection benefits:

  • Increased brand awareness: A successful brand protection strategy can lead to a more positive brand image online. This, in turn, can contribute to increased brand awareness through organic search and word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Improved conversion rates: By preventing users from being directed to fake websites by hijackers, your brand protection efforts can lead to a higher conversion rate for your paid search campaigns.

Important considerations:

  • Data integration: Combine data from your search engine platform with website analytics to get a holistic view of user behavior and identify any discrepancies that might indicate hijacking.
  • Long-term monitoring: Brand protection is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor key metrics and adapt your strategy as needed to stay ahead of potential threats.
  • Focus on prevention: While measuring legal actions can be a metric, a truly successful strategy focuses on preventing infringements in the first place.

By tracking these metrics and focusing on both preventative and reactive measures, you can effectively gauge the success of your brand protection strategy in paid search and ensure your brand maintains control over its online presence.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  •  Paid search brand protection is the safeguarding of your online presence and reputation in search engine results. When effective brand protection is in place, you can: 

    • Identity when competitors, affiliates, and partners are bidding aggressively on your brand terms.
    • Monitor affiliates and partners to ensure they are using the correct messaging within their ads.
    • Prevent partners and affiliates from cannibalizing clicks.
    • ​​Spot infringements and protect your brand value.
    • Capture evidence of trademark infringements to submit to Google.
  • A trademark is a logo, symbol, word, or phrase that identifies a product or service or a brand. 

    In paid search advertising, there are two types of trademark usage – keywords and ad copy. Typically, only the trademark owner is allowed to use their trademark in their ads but there are exceptions where resellers (ticket sellers, retailers etc) and informational sites (coupon sites etc) are concerned.

  • To prevent competitors from using your trademarked terms in their PPC ads, there are several actions that you can take:

    • Register your trademark: Ensure that your trademark is registered with the relevant authorities. This strengthens your legal standing and gives you more leverage to enforce your rights.
    • Monitor ad campaigns: Regularly monitor search engine results pages for any unauthorized use of your trademarked terms in competitors’ PPC ads.
    • Enforce trademark policies: Contact the search engine provider (e.g., Google) and inform them of any trademark violations. Most search engines have policies in place to address trademark infringement in PPC ads.
    • Negative keywords: Use negative keywords in your own PPC campaigns to prevent your ads from appearing alongside competitor ads that use your trademarked terms.
    • Work with the search engine: Some search engines offer programs to help trademark owners protect their rights in PPC ads. Explore options such as Google’s Trademark Complaint Form to report violations.
    • Cease and desist letters: Send cease and desist letters to competitors using your trademarked terms without permission.
    • Legal action: If informal methods fail, consider taking legal action against infringing competitors.
  • It may be possible that your competition don’t realise that they are bidding on your keywords, particularly if they are using an agency to bid on their behalf. A simple personal request to remove bidding may be sufficient. The next step is to submit a trademark complaint to Google. When all else fails, seek legal advice. 

  • Violating trademark policies in PPC campaigns can lead to ad disapproval, account suspension, legal action, damage to brand reputation, financial penalties, and loss of competitive advantage. Consequences range from immediate ad disapproval to long-term legal and financial repercussions, impacting brand reputation and business performance. Advertisers should prioritize compliance to avoid these consequences.


  • Adthena’s Infringement Tracker will track all of your brand infringements by the hour. Within the Infringement Rules feature, you can easily capture adverts that are appearing on your brand and trademark terms on Google.


  • Within Adthena Infringement tracker you can view adverts that are appearing on your brand and trademark terms on Google. The report will show you the date the Infringement occurred, a timestamp and screenshot of the SERP. You’ll also be provided with an evidence link. You can then report it directly to the publisher by completing the Google Ads Trademark Complaint form.

  • Brand bidding on a competitor’s trademark terms may violate trademark laws if permission has not been given and is potentially misleading to consumers regarding the origin or endorsement of the products or services being promoted.


  • Legal and trademark rules surrounding brand bidding on search engines involve adherence to general trademark laws and search engine policies. Trademarks offer protection against unauthorized use, and infringement occurs if confusion arises. Search engines like Google have policies governing brand bidding, restricting the use of trademarked terms in ad text without permission. Advertisers may require explicit consent to bid on trademarked terms. Despite potential legal risks and competitive challenges, brand bidding can still be a strategic advertising approach when executed compliantly and effectively.


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