Play.com miss the point with PPC restrictions

Today sees Google changing the rules with regards to brand bidding on its Adwords platforms, meaning that you can now bid on terms such as HMV, WHSmith and Play.com… should you wish to.

So what does this mean? Well, for one it means that you’re likely to get clued up companies bidding on the brand names of other companies, so for example Tesco may bid on the keywords ‘Asda’, ‘Sainsburys’ and ‘Morrisons’, meaning they’ll get search traffic for people looking for their competitors. There’s nothing the other companies can do about.

Or is there? What they could do is allow their affiliates to bid for them. You see, now that there are no restrictions on brand bidding, there’s nothing stopping HMV, GAME, WHSmith and everyone who sells games and DVDs bidding on the Play.com brand. Therefore, Play.com will be losing a lot of traffic and sales to their competitors. If they were smart, they’d allow their affiliates to bid on their brand name as well, meaning the affiliates would be shouldering the PPC costs for them, in exchange for the commissions. Then, anyone looking for Play.com, rather than finding their competitors, they’d find Play.com through the affiliates.

That’s if Play.com were smart. Sadly, they’re not. They’re quite stupid. They, and a great many other retailers have panicked at the change in Google’s brand restrictions and have sent out this email.

Hi Darren,

Bearing in mind the Google changes on brand bidding which come into effect on Monday, we would like to take the opprotunity to draw your attention to Play.com’s PPC restrictions:

“Unless specifically agreed in writing with Play.com, Affiliates must
not:

i) purchase, license or operate any domain name which is confusingly similar to ‘play.com’;

ii) bid on the ‘play.com’ keyword, or any of its misspellings, on any of the search engines that currently operate web services; possible derivatives of the brand term are:

Play.com
Play
Play .com
Www.play.com
Play.com uk
Play com
www play com
www Play
www.play
play dot com
playdotcom
play .com uk
Play.c
Plya
Play co
Playcouk
Play.co.uk
www.play.co.uk
play uk

and also:

Playusa
Playusa.com
Play usa
Wwwplayusa
www.play.usa
www.playusa.com
ww.playusa.com
playusa.com
play usa com
playusacom
play.usa.com
playusa.com play usa

iii) use the keyword ‘play.com’ to perform paid search activity across any search engines that operates web services  and to that effect, Affiliates must add the ‘play.com’ keyword and its derivatives as above as negative matches to their PPC campaigns.

iv) use the term Play.com or its derivatives in the Affiliate’s ad text for driving traffic from Play.com’s competitors’ brand terms to Play.com’s site nor the affiliate’s sites.

v) drive paid or unpaid traffic from search engines directly to Play.com pages or the Play.com site overall. The affiliate has to use their own sites for traffic from search engines.

For the avoidance of doubt, the above restrictions or the specific terms of agreement regarding authorised PPC activity shall supersede any conflicting provision that may be found in any section of this Agreement.

These rules are effective immediately and should the Affiliate not comply They will be banned from the Play.com affiliate programme with immediate effect and also face potential lawsuit. “

‘Face a potential lawsuit’? What are they thinking? How stupid are they?

I worry for the sanity of these people. All that will happen now is they’ll lose business to their competitors, and I hope they do. I hope they lose a lot of business. Come on GAME, HMV, WHSmith and everyone else… bid on Play.com and the rest of the keywords Play have listed above. Take the customers from them. As they won’t let affiliates bid on the terms you’ll find them quite cheap too!

Happy bidding.

Darren Jamieson, aka MrDaz, is the Technical Director and co-founder of Engage Web and has been working online in a career spanning two decades. His first website was built in 1998 and is still live today.

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