According to various Internet analytics firms, Google pulls in anywhere from 40 percent to about 80 percent of Web searches, giving it the muscle to do as it pleases online. Part of that rule-setting process includes allowing any marketer to bid on any search term, regardless of whether the word is a competitor’s company or product name. It’s no wonder then that big brand marketers are concerned about online cannibalization of their trademarks.
Robert Crigler, director of interactive marketing at Orkin, the pest control company, discussed the ramifications of this SEM challenge and suggested a couple lines of attack for brand marketers interested in fighting back.
Target Marketing: How are lesser known firms using branded companies’ prominence for their own SEM gains?
Rob Crigler: One of the things that obviously concerns [brands] is that the market can be highly fragmented; there are a lot of mom and pop [businesses]. So on a regional basis, a smaller competitor can be buying “Orkin,” for example, in Atlanta or in their regional market and be getting exposure, even though we’re the ones spending millions of dollars to essentially build our brand equity and, somewhat, the category. They can ride on top of that by taking a lower position … that is certainly visible but that basically originated around our brand.
It really becomes something where companies are competing and driving up the price of even your brand terms. When people search on “Orkin,” they’ve already figured out they have a pest problem and in some ways decided they have a preference for Orkin. And then right before that last capture-demand moment when we want to drive [prospects] to the site and sign up for service, we have companies exposing them to a message that I’d rather them not see. The same scenario applies to any brand.