Posted on / by Fahima Miah / in News, Paid

Held to Ransom by Google? Basecamp’s Attitude to Having to Pay for Branded Traffic

Tired of bidding for your own branded terms on Google? Basecamp are.

  • Basecamp’s CEO, Jason Fried, has recently spoken out about how unfair it is to be ‘forced to pay ransom to a giant tech company’ through a now-viral tweet. 
  • Competitors have been able to show ads above Basecamp’s Organic listings by bidding on Basecamp branded keyword, dubbed ‘conquesting’, across Google Search. 
  • Despite featuring at the top of the Organic listings, Bascampe felt they had to roll out ads bidding on their own brand terms. 
  • Basecamp’s tactical ads read: “Basecamp.com | We don’t want to run this ad. We’re the #1 result, but this site lets companies advertise against us using our brand. So here we are. A small, independent co. forced to pay ransom to a giant tech company.”
  • Basecamp is running the ad to stand up for small businesses everywhere, facing similar problems with Google.
  • A Google representative clapped back, claiming Google prohibits the use of trademarked terms in the text of an ad if the owner files a complaint. “Our trademark policy balances the interests of users, advertisers and trademark owners,” the statement said. “To provide users with the most relevant ads, we don’t restrict trademarked terms as keywords. We do, however, restrict trademarked terms in ad text if the trademark owner files a complaint.”

Our take on PPC brand bidding, or ‘conquesting’

While it is true that ads are often disapproved if they mention trademarked names – we find it hard to believe that Basecamp wouldn’t have already brought this to Google’s attention, prior to grudgingly paying for their own branded traffic. 

This isn’t the first instance of branded bidding being permitted on Google’s Advertising platform, therefore we can’t really say this is a ‘one-off anomaly’. We’ve worked with businesses that have also felt they had to bid on branded terms in the past, and not just on one occasion! 

The irony of all of this is that many sites have linked out to Basecamp as a result of the uproar, which will in turn be boosting up the site authority and consequently Organic rankings for branded terms even further – but again, all of this will have little impact when there’s a cascade of competitor ads pushing the so-called #1 ranking down and out of sight.

Nevertheless, now that the spotlight is shining on the issue, we’re keeping our eyes peeled to see if Google tightens up its algorithm, so that small businesses can finally stop taking the hit! 

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