Brokers should examine their online branding and marketing following a High Court decision this week that Google is not responsible for misleading and deceptive third-party advertisements.
The High Court stated that Google was not responsible for the content of "Adword" advertisements displayed on Google search result pages despite the fact that the links in the adverts had been purchased from Google by Australian advertisers.
Hillster Marketing director Nick Hills says the decision in the Google case is a timely reminder and warning that brokers should be taking a look at how they are represented by the search-engine giant.
Hills, who spent 15 years in insurance marketing and communications, says while brokers probably can’t avoid ‘Google hijacking’ they should use the search engine to examine how they appear when people search for a broker in their local area or by their company name.
“These types of ads are not necessarily illegal but they are ‘just not cricket’ either and I would not recommend brokers consider this type of online marketing,” Hills says.
“Rather look at your own Google hits using keywords such as the name of the business, its’ location, its’ links to other professionals and see what search results and adverts appear.”
According to Hills this type of research is important to know where you stand in the online world and he cautions brokers to avoid calling on legal help to take down ambush adverts.
“Spend those resources in and on your business increasing its services and profile. Use Google as part of your strategic marketing and in a professional way instead of responding to these types of low level adverts.”
Hills says online marketing is not new and is easily measurable in terms of return but brokers also need to know their business and free time and resources to market it effectively.
“Brokers need to be aware of what’s going on in the online space and what it is saying about them and how they should respond and then use the right tools as part of that strategy.”
The High Court ruled that Google was not responsible for the content of "Adword" advertisements because it did not make the misrepresentations contained in the adverts, nor did it control the search terms entered by Internet users or the material available on the Internet. It also stated the adverts were created by third-parties who specified the contents of the adverts and the keywords which trigger their appearance and not by Google.