WatchMouse launches GeoBrand, PPC brand abuse monitoring tool

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[Holland] WatchMouse, the website performance monitoring company, has launched its new GeoBrand service today. It’s designed to detect “brand abuse” in search-based keyword advertising and follows the recent European Court ruling on the LVMH vs Google case which places the onus on the brands themselves to monitor for trademark infringements.

The service targets pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft Bing in over 30 countries and offers an automated way for brands to be alerted that a competitor is purchasing keyword advertising which potentially infringes on their trademark, listing offenses by country and specific search engine.

So, for example, a search that uses the trademarked term ‘Apple’ might deliver results that include ads for ‘HP’. In fact, that was the case when WatchMouse ran its GeoBrand tool across all of the companies featured in Interbrand’s “2009 Best Global Brands”, which rather conveniently determined that 81 percent of the top 100 global brands are victims of search engine advertising brand abuse including BMW, IBM, Cartier, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs and L’Oréal.

“It’s very challenging to detect when and where a brand is being exploited via online advertising because search engine results vary greatly depending on the user’s actual location by country”, notes Mark Pors, CTO and co-founder of WatchMouse. “GeoBrand is the only monitoring solution capable of detecting the unique PPC ads for each country’s search engines.”

But once you’ve discovered that a competitor is riding off the back of your brand’s coattails via the likes of Google, what next? Interestingly, WatchMouse dishes out the following course of action: complain to the ‘offending’ search engine, overbid the competition, and if necessary, take legal action. The fact that tools like GeoBrand could lead to more bidding wars on highly contested and potentially trademarked keywords might actually benefit the search engines, even if the recent European ruling puts a little more emphasis on them to intervene in any disputes.

GeoBrand is available for IP and trademark lawyers, members of INTA (International Trademark Association) and brand managers or stewards.

  • Eric Heller

    It would be helpful in a post like this to see existing competitors as well. For example, BrandVerity is already doing a good job in this space…

  • Dave Naffziger

    Eric, Thanks for the mention.

    “GeoBrand is the only monitoring solution capable of detecting the unique PPC ads for each country’s search engines.”

    There are a handful of companies that provide this. AdGooRoo was probably the first and has provided it since 2005, The Search Monitor provides some particularly good geotargeting options and as mentioned above, we (BrandVerity) monitor paid search ads in many countries as well.

    We happen to think the real challenge isn’t finding competitors, but finding and attributing partners and in particular abusive affiliates.

    • Steve O'Hear

      Thanks for the info.

      Note it was a quote from the co-founder of WatchMouse who was making the claim.

    • Mark Pors


      To our knowledge, GeoBrand is the only service that performs actual searches in 30 countries. That is different from monitoring international search engines (which is what other companies provide), with very different results due to the geographic targeting of PPC programs.

      Mark Pors
      CTO and co-founder

      • Dave Naffziger


        AdGooRoo has a great study on the importance of conducting international searches from infrastructure physically located in the countries they monitor:

        To our knowledge, The Search Monitor doesn’t use distributed infrastructure and instead takes advantage of Google’s search extensions to trigger geographically targeted ads.

        We agree on the importance of physical distribution and also operate geographically distributed infrastructure for our monitoring.

  • austotrabant

    Concerning the complaint to Google, please note that there are three different levels of protection / different complaint requirements & procedures.

    Group A: ‘the US’
    Group B: ‘the 194’ (UK, Canada & 192 other countries)
    Group C: ‘the rest’ all remaining countries worldwide (e.g. France, Germany, etc).

    While TM-owners in the US only receive a fairly limited amount of protection, TM-owners in e.g. France are quite well protected.

    For more detailed information:

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