According to the latest figures released Monday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers, online advertising last year reached $23.4 billion. While the rates of growth for online advertising are slowing, companies are still making considerable investments in online search marketing, which accounts for close to half of all online advertising spend.
One of the issues, which isn't discussed in the report, is one that is of special interest to brand rights holders. Domainers have been taking advantage of rights holders' brands by registering domains containing variations of famous marks — and then either directly or indirectly displaying pay-per-click links from advertisers.
One way to identify pay-per-click abusers is by using a brand protection tool to uncover domain name infringement. A tool that searches through domain names on a daily basis, analyzes content, and provides case management functionality is desirable.
Depending on the search advertising strategy you are using, you may be able to identify abuse by reviewing performance reports which may show performance statistics for ads on specific domains and URLs. Traffic generated from sites containing a company's rights should be carefully reviewed. Special attention should be paid to clicks generated from infringing domains where the spend is more than $2 per month, as the cost of the domain is less than the amount spent for clicks on an annualized basis.
You may also be able to use tools to exclude particular sites or types of sites. Excluding an infringing domain from displaying your own ad really does not solve the problem though, as these sites typically market to an entire genre — which means pay-per-click links from competitors may very well appear on a website using an infringing domain.
The first step for remediating these issues is to notify the website owner of the situation. In some cases, the website owner will comply. If the website owner is unwilling to comply, or is unresponsive, the search marketing provider may accept complaints. Google, for instance, has an online form for rights owners to use.
There are a number of other methods for recovering domains such as anonymous acquisition and UDRP, but these approaches need to be carefully evaluated, as the costs associated with each approach may outweigh the benefits.
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