Search and Compliance: Why It’s Important

Robyn Pearlstein, Paid Search Manager, Advertising Solutions

A few weeks ago, Nate wrote about the FDA sending letters to 14 pharmaceutical companies for not including enough risk information or full drug names. In a nutshell, the FDA has not yet offered a black and white solution or firm guidance to the advertisers but the agency is beginning to understand the need to define rules and regulations in the search space as it is now one of the most relevant, effective forms of advertising. While it is the FDA’s job to regulate pharmaceutical advertising and protect consumers from false marketing claims, it is also their duty to provide solutions to advertising they find inadequate.

Once these regulations become clear, it is extremely important for pharma advertisers to quickly grasp and implement in order to avoid the ultimate search marketer’s nightmare: going dark while competitors gain share of voice for on-label terms (cue ominous music). Or, even worse, be slapped with another huge fine or lawsuit.

Google’s new trademark policy keeps marketers on their toes

The issue of compliance has again risen to the forefront in mid-May when Google announced its new trademark policy that would align Google with the other tier one engines in terms of how it treats trademarked terms. This means that advertisers, especially those playing in the retail space, will be affected in a bevy of ways. It is now up to the advertiser to monitor competitors’ use of their terms in order to protect the brand and avoid any Google editorial and compliance issues.

Additionally, there are several lawsuits pending regarding trademark issues. So, it would be wise for all advertisers to follow these cases closely to ensure they understand the ever-changing trademark laws so they don’t fall into a lawsuit themselves. One misstep could compromise hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales revenue.

Fair and clear guidelines are needed more than ever for search marketers

As search budgets continue to mimic the volume of searches in the US (according to MediaPost, searches increased 39.4% during April year over year while some search budgets have increased nearly 20% year over year), it is critical that marketers keep their actions in line with the ever-changing and evolving search policies. Just one 95-character ad is the difference between boosting the bottom line and losing millions.


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