American Airlines sues Google – Brand equity redux

August 18, 2007 at 10:07 am Leave a comment

Some time back I asked in a blog post if “Google is stealing equity from your brand?”  It struck me that brands don’t really consider what shows up “next to them” in their search results with the same discipline and care as they consider the issue at retail in traditional brick and mortar environments.

Today’s headline regarding American Airlines suing Google, reminded me of this post.  I don’t know all  the merits of the case, but none the less, it is an issue for brand managers and web strategists – and on the surface seems wrong to me.  In this case, AA keywords like “AAdvantage” are returning AA competitor results next to American’s paid result. 

Google stands by the actions in the article:

Google spokesperson says: … confident that our trademark policy strikes a proper balance between trademark owners’ interests and consumer choice, and that our position has been validated by decisions in previous trademark cases.”

But interestingly when I tried this search in Google this morning I saw only one sponsored link result – and it was for American.  Here’s the view I got:

image

And Live Search for sake of equity (nothing by AA here):

image

I wonder what’s up with the apparent change in the search results this morning?  And more importantly, I wonder how much brand managers are thinking through these issues.  Having competitors appear with your keywords is perhaps troubling…but there are far more disturbing links that could show up next to your brand!

Sean

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