11 October 2017TrademarksSabrina Machei

Online advertising: the key to success

In the process of ongoing globalisation and digitisation, the importance of a company’s presence on the internet is steadily increasing. It is now common to be able to access the internet anywhere, at any time. The internet has grown to be a major part in people’s lives, and also in their buying behaviour, and many of the goods and services available on the market may be directly ordered online.

As the relevance and coverage of the internet is increasing, so is the need for businesses to establish their presence in the mind of the general public through use of this medium and its advertising possibilities. Companies all over the world of all sizes and forms are grasping the opportunities provided by the internet to allow an undertaking to be (and stay) present in the mind of the ever-online public. Besides placing advertisements, establishing links on affiliated websites, registering relevant domain names, opening online shops and many other direct or indirect marketing methods, the topic of non-visible keyword and metatag advertising is gaining momentum and relevance.

It is the reach of an advertisement or any other content with an advertising effect that matters. It is the ranking and frequency of a result appearing when a search engine query is executed that decides the number of people being reached by a company’s related advertising efforts. Consequently, any means to increase said reach are very popular and it is inviting to alter the surrounding circumstances to ensure that an online advertising measure yields its true potential.

One of the most relevant factors of reach of any content is its suitability to be found by the relevant clientele. Search engines used to access certain topics are bound to algorithms. They ‘crawl’ a website by its URL and the related webpages content—visible and invisible—and interpret the data strictly in accordance with certain mathematical rules in order to assess their relevance for a search query.

In this way, the visibility of any content appearing in the results of a search engine query is an equation that is quite easy to grasp. The evaluation of relevance, although affected by a plurality of aspects, is predictable and may be utilised by alteration of the different underlying factors.

One of these factors is that content using and reiterating certain words which match (or are loosely related to) the search query will be found more easily and more often than others, such keywords serving as a connection between the query and the content available. However, reiteration and usage of certain keywords might interfere with the specific way one wants to present content, especially in light of marketing interests.

This is where metatags and other means to deposit hidden keywords with advertisement campaigns come into play. Metatags describe a website’s content and are crawled by search algorithms. However, they remain invisible to the customer, as they are part of the website’s source code. By adding the right metatags, the results of one’s advertising on the internet will be increased. Needless to say, this possibility has brought forth use of metatags that are often searched for, but that may have nothing to do with the actual content of a page (a subject best left to a separate study).

Taking advantage

This author is trying to shed more light on the general principles of legal classification of competitors using a rival’s registered trademark(s) in order to entice and draw potential customers away from the other, or to use known trademarks in order to enhance the visibility of one’s own (less known) products, services and related advertising measures—all of this to eventually increase sales and turnover.

One might think the matter would have been well settled by now, but it is safe to say that it’s all but settled, and that we are only slowly getting there. Although the courts are starting to find some sort of congruency in their decisions, there are a whole host of varying scenarios instead of one generally applicable rule. What all the decisions have in common is that eventually, it all boils down to the general principles of “regular” trademark infringement, essentially based on the main function of a trademark, that is, to serve as an indicator of origin.

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