As antitrust probes are heating up against Google, business owners are speaking up against one of its controversial ad practices, known in the industry as “conquesting.”
The practice allows businesses to bid on a competitor’s name, even if that name has been trademarked.
The only way to remain at the top of search results, companies like Edible Arrangements told Business Insider recently, is to pay millions of dollars to outbid competitors.
“I hope people realize what [Google is] doing is killing main street businesses,” Edible Arrangements found and CEO Tariq Farid told Business Insider in a recent interview.
Last week, Jason Fried, Basecamp founder and CEO, aired his frustrations on Twitter, calling the practice “a shakedown” and “ransom.”
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Edible Arrangements — the fruit-on-a-stick, gift baskets— are often sent for joyous occasions: birthdays, graduations, and work promotions, to name a few. Tariq Farid, the company’s founder and CEO, however, hasn’t personally been over-flowing with fuzzy feelings lately.
As Farid told Business Insider in a recent interview, that’s mostly because of a Google ad practice that he says is “killing” business for his 1,100 franchise owners across the country. In response, Edible Arrangements has filed multiple lawsuits against Google for its ad practice, at a time when government regulators are investigating the tech giant over antitrust concerns, especially as it relates to its advertising business.
Read more: 50 state attorneys general have launched a formal probe into whether Google has engaged in anticompetitive practices in its ads business
The issue, Farid said, starts when someone types his company’s name — “Edible Arrangements” — into Google. Even though the company’s website is the first organic search result Google surfaces, it is not listed at the very top of the page. Those top spots are reserved for advertisements and are awarded to the businesses that pay the most money for the keyword search term, “Edible Arrangements.”
That means, to remain atop of Google’s search results, Farid and his team have to bid on their own, trademarked brand name to beat out competitors.
“Google is manipulating this for their own benefit,” Farid said. “I’m okay for that when it comes to generic terms like ‘fruit’ or ‘basket.’ But not for ‘Edible Arrangements,’ which is our mark. Google has come out and started making millions of dollars off of our name.”
The ad practice, known within the industry as “conquesting,” is not uncommon or completely unique to the way Google does business. For instance, when searching on Amazon for a particular product, similar products from competitors will likely show up alongside it. That product placement is often not free. Also, when searching in Apple’s app store, ads for competitor apps will often be the top results.
Still, Google’s involvement in “conquesting” has raised questions as of late, especially with federal and state agencies now formally investigating the search giant over potential antitrust violations. This Monday, fifty state attorneys general announced a joint probe specifically looking into whether Google’s advertising …read more
Source:: Businessinsider – Tech