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A funny thing happened on the way to writing this examination of the Yahoo! trademark policy.

Recently, a notice sent to advertisers included the following: “Yahoo! Search Marketing has determined that we will no longer allow bidding on keywords containing competitor trademarks”

This is all well and good, not to mention overdue. I applaud Yahoo! for this move but thought they could have gone even further to enhance their search customer’s experience. Why not ban bidding on all trademarked terms (and other keywords for that matter) that have no relevancy to the company bidding on the terms? This would go a long way towards reducing the clutter of questionable and undoubtedly ineffective paid search ads.

In researching this concept, I discovered why search marketing, and particularly paid search marketing, is so powerful. For example: Why would eBay bid on the trademarked term Muzak? Muzak is the leader in brand enhancement through music – “the intangible that creates experiences that builds brands” according to their flashy website. I knew I wouldn’t be able to bid on contracting Muzak services on the auction site, so why is eBay bidding on the Muzak keyword?

Little did I know what I would find searching for “Muzak” on eBay’s site. I must live a sheltered life. I couldn’t believe the tremendous assortment of Muzak logo items and used equipment. Not to mention all of the music CD’s with Muzak in the title. Talk about a brand enhancement experience!

Well, how about a non-trademarked keyword phrase? I performed a Yahoo! search for “rocket fuel”. This was more like it – a virtual treasure trove of irrelevancy! Nextag.com invites me to “Compare Bargain Rocket Fuel Prices”. I am enticed to “Shop Amazon for low prices on a vast selection”. And who can say no to a “Great Discount on Rocket Fuel” at Herballoveshop.com.

Well it turns out you can buy rocket fuel at both Nextag and Amazon. Model rocket fuel and CD’s for the band Rocket Fuel. (I have to get out of the house more!) But I was puzzled as to why Herballoveshop.com would be bidding on “rocket fuel.” The answer was right in front of me. A1Supplements.com is displaying an ad for JetFuel weight loss supplements. “What was the name of that weight loss capsule? Rocket fuel, jet fuel?” You get the idea.

Well, another dead end in my quest for ads so irrelevant that they’re a waste of a searcher’s time and an advertiser’s money. Then the truth hit me like a runaway Virgin Megastore supply truck. All searches are related and share at least a minuscule shred of relevancy. Hmmm… I wonder if Muzak has ever used Rocket Fuel in their music programming?

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Oneupweb is the only two-time winner of the ClickZ award for “Best Search Engine Engine Marketing Firm”. StraightUpSearchs blog authors include experts from Oneupwebs natural SEO, pay-per-click campaign management, research, marketing, design, and sales departments.

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