Google announced on Friday that, from May 5th, it will allow open keyword bidding on all search terms in the UK and Ireland.
This means that registered trademarks can now be bid on by competitors, whereas previously they could only show ads for trademarked terms with other words in the search query.
This open bidding for keywords has been Google policy in North America since 2004, and its introduction into the UK will cause a stir by potentially inflating the cost of brand name keywords, which have been a source of cheap traffic for many brands.
Though they will be able to bid on trademarked keywords, competitors will not be able to use the terms in either their anchor text or the text snippets under the paid search ads.
The implications of the new policy include a potential shift in policy towards affiliates, many of which have previously been restricted from bidding on brand names.
Now, companies may allow affiliates to bid on these terms so that a competitor's adverts can be displaced by affiliates’ ads.
Yahoo has always allowed bidding on trademarks in the UK, as long as the landing page has some content which is relevant to that keyword.
Yahoo was sued recently by a company for allowing competitors to bid on its trademark, but the search engine won the case, thus setting a precedent for Google’s new policy, though further legal challenges may well be possible after this new development.
One thing is certain though: this new keyword bidding policy will be sure to generate a huge amount of additional income for Google in the UK and Ireland.