For years there has been frustrated chatter among PPC media buyers regarding draconian big brand franchise PPC trademark rules. After experimenting all over the world for 2 years, Marriott is now taking assertive steps to standardize and solidify global policies. Whether SEMs like the new US rules or not, Marriott’s taking an industry leading role in organizing an approval process for hotel franchisee trademark usage.
It is widely known that in late 2005 Marriott filed a North American trademark grievance with Google. The correspondence authorized advertisers to use corporate trademarks in PPC ads, excepting a list of rouge users. Earlier this year Marriott again complained to Google regarding France, India, UK, Australia and the EU, choosing the opposite approach-refusing advertisers’ trademark usage absent inclusion on Marriott’s approval list.
Now Marriott has notified its US franchisees that they will flip their US trademark policy with Google to an approved list approach. Marriott asserts that the rules have worked internationally and will provide all players with a consistent global trademark strategy.
Preferred Marriot SEM Agencies?
Only Marriott approved agencies will be allowed to use marks in ad copy, which opens interesting questions as to what criteria they will use to determine which SEM firms will be authorized. Marriott plans on identifying shops to which they will distribute a Trademark Agreement. They’ve informed franchisees that so long as their agency is included on the letter to Google, there should be no problems with existing Paid Search campaigns.
Apparently if your “agency” is on the approved list you’ll be required to fill out Marriott’s agreement which they will then submit to Google. It remains to be seen how Marriott will treat in-house PPC folks from small hotel groups, individual hotels, and search marketing agencies. However, the changes are initially seen by hotel owners and SEM firms alike in a positive light because at least there are clear rules and procedures in place-unlike some other hotel chains.