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HOW TO: avoid legal risks in keyword advertising

As traditional advertising channels have declined, online advertising has increased exponentially. However, the methods used to sell and place online advertising (bidding for keywords), together with the lucrative revenues involved, have led to a number of court battles over trademark infringement. These court battles have affected not just the entity placing the advert, but also the operators of the advertising systems.

How online advertising works

The majority of online advertising is sold through a small number of businesses that sell keywords and place adverts on websites and search engines. One of the best known is Google Adwords. Adwords was launched by Google in 2000, and by 2008 had revenues of some US$21 billion (aprox £14 billion). It works by allowing you to buy a good screen position for your advert in the results of a Google search for a word or a phrase you choose.