Search and rescue?

Glass Times editor asks if companies are playing fairly online.

Marketing is at the heart of the double glazing industry and, for the most part, competition is healthy and above board.

However, Glass Times has been told of an unnerving practice on Google, where your would-be customers could be unwittingly redirected to what appears to be a price comparison website that offers quotes direct from manufacturers, even if they put your name into the search engine.

Mark Pearce from KJM Group discovered that if he put ‘KJM windows’ into Google, the top three results were adverts. This is standard enough, you may say. However, where positions one and two are clearly ads from rival installation companies, the third actually appears to be KJM’s own site, with ‘KJM Windows’ prominent in the sample text.

The user, however, is redirected to a site that promises cheap quotes from manufacturers.

“Targeting Google AdWords is clearly fair game but in this case, the positioning of the ad suggests that the ad clicks through to KJM when it doesn’t,” Mark said.

“Clearly this is misleading to the consumer. The ads also appear to be geographically targeted.  

“KJM aren’t alone in being targeted as [another company has] also been hit.”

Naturally, Mark took his concerns to Google, which initially asked him to file a trade mark infringement complaint.

“This is not a trade-mark issue, so I can’t see that filling out a form will help me,” Mark told Google. “However, is it right that [a website] uses “KJM Windows” in the head of its advert? This would seem to me to imply that they are KJM Windows. This is not the case. Is this acceptable to Google? I would say the ad is misleading to people who are searching for my company name.”

Mark reported the matter to Glass Times when he felt that Google’s response wasn’t acceptable.

“Please note you have to register your company name as a trademark term, so that any person or company who would be using “KJM” or “KJM Windows” in their ad text will have to get an authorization from the trademark owner,” a spokesman for Google said.

“If your company name is being used in the ad text and you are not the trademark owner of the term, a person or company can use it in their ad text. Hence, you need to register your company name as the trademark term with the government and then fill [in a] form for the 3rd party authorization request.”

Glass Times certainly thinks this is a grey area. Do other companies have similar problems with online advertising and referrals? If so, we would like to hear from you. You can contact me here