On the heels of some positive court decisions earlier this year, Google today announced that they're changing their keyword bidding policies in Europe to match those already in place in the US, the UK, and elsewhere. Most notably, this means European marketers will now be able to display paid listings to users searching for other companies' trademarks. There's lots of coverage around, including:
Obviously, this isn't great news for brands. That's why Louis Vuitton and others were fighting against these policies in court; they've worked hard to build brand recognition and credibility and to drive the consumer desire that leads to a Web search — and they feel as if Google is making money by selling those consumers to other marketers at the last moment.
But brands don't always lose. Sometimes those other marketers will be competitors, of course — but sometimes they'll be the channel partners of the brands being searched for. Sony, for instance, shouldn't have any problem with Amazon.com and other retailers advertising Sony's digital cameras when consumers search for those cameras by name. For the retailers, then, this decision is a win: They have more freedom than before to target in-market buyers, no matter the brand for which they're searching.
And the biggest winner of all, as ever, is Google. Because their revenues come from auctioning off ad space, the more advertisers who can bid on that space, the higher the prices will go. Google's European revenues were already growing faster than their revenues in the UK, and this change will only have a positive impact on those European revenues going forward.