The 4 Most Siginficant Changes To Paid Search In 2009

I’m writing this on January 1, 2010, and I’m reminiscing about the changes to paid search that emerged in 2009 which will impact your brand and affect how you execute your brand strategies on paid search in 2010 and beyond.

Here are the top four big changes, in my mind:

Google changes its trademark policy

On June 15, 2009, Google changed its trademark policy to make it easier for advertisers to use brand names in ad copy text. Prior to this change, Google restricted the use of brand names in ad text and was willing to take action to prevent it, allowing brand owners to authorize specific resellers to use the brand, while blocking everyone else. Under the new policy, Google allows previously disapproved ads to run on and the content network in the USA without the need for approval by the trademark owner. Essentially, anyone, except for direct and obvious competitors, are able to use your brand in their ads. For more on these changes, see my How To Protect Your Brand Under Google’s New Trademark Policies.

Google adds product images and pricing to paid search

Google more closely linked comparison shopping with AdWords sponsored listings with several new developments:

Product Extensions. If you search on keywords such as “snowboard pants,” you will notice a plus icon associated with a single advertiser accompanied by the following text: “Show Products From [brand] for [brand] pants.” Clicking on the plus sign launches a list of products beneath the ad, with images, titles and prices of products. This feature enhancement to AdWords is called “Product Extensions.” While it has been in beta testing for a period of time, Product Extensions launched in the USA to all advertisers on November 24, 2009. To use Product Extensions requires a Google Merchant Center account tied to your AdWords ad text. Product Extension enhanced ads are priced on a CPC basis. You can find details on Google’s blog here:

Product Listing Ads.. If you search on keywords such as “snowboard jackets” you will see a list of products in positions four, five and six on the right rail along with an image, title, and price for multiple different advertisers. Product Listing Ads launched on November 11, 2009 in beta to a select group of retail advertisers and are priced on a CPA basis. Participation requires a Google Merchant Center account and an invitation from Google. You can find details on Google’s Blog here:

YouTube Promoted Videos. Promoted Videos are CPC-based ads that can be purchased through YouTube or AdWords. I covered these sponsored listings and their impact on brand searches in Search, Video & Your Brand: Hello YouTube. Here is a timeline to its evolution:

  • March 9, 2009: YouTube officially names its sponsored ads “Promoted Videos”
  • October 2, 2009: Promoted videos are added to AdSense publishers
  • October 14, 2009: Promoted videos are available to purchase through AdWords
  • October 14, 2009: Promoted videos expand from the USA to Canada, the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

Microsoft Live Search becomes Bing; Bing to power Yahoo search

On July 29, 2009, Bing and Yahoo announced an agreement to work together on search, with Bing controlling technology and Yahoo controlling sales and revenue efforts. This agreement was finalized on December 4, 2009 (though is still subject to regulatory approval). How does this effect your brand? A few quick positives that can come from this for you: (1) Consolidation into one platform means you need only manage ads from one place rather than two, and (2) Bing seems to allow for brand exclusivity. Try the query “ebay auctions” for example on Bing vs. Google.

There are plenty of other interesting events from 2009—please tell me about your favorites in the comments below.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Brand Aid | Channel: Strategy | Search Marketing: Branding


About The Author: is CEO of The Search Monitor. The Search Monitor is an ad monitoring platform which provides precision intelligence on SEM, SEO, PLAs, Shopping, and Display ads.

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