Up until now - October 2018 - Google's Advertising Policies Help page has stated that "resellers and informational sites" may use brand names/trademarks owned by others in Google ads, under most conditions, only in the USA and 6 other countries. (See External Article, and expand the "Reseller and informational site eligible regions" link.) Now Google has added an innocuous-sounding but not at all innocuous little sentence to that section: "The policy will expand to include most other regions throughout 2018 and 2019, and we will update this list as we add new regions."
"Most other regions" are expected to include the EU and EFTA countries.
Under the original policy, only brand owners could use their name in the title or text of an ad; but anyone - competitors as well as resellers and information providers - could use brands owned by others in the display URL of an ad, or bid on it as a keyword.
But in an e-mail last week to brand owners, Google said:
“Advertisers may use a trademark term in ad text if they are a reseller of, offer compatible components or parts for, or provide information about the goods and services related to the trademarked term.”
"Information providers" would include things like blogs and review sites.
And under the revised rules, any entity publishing web pages "primarily dedicated to selling" a brand's product - like OTAs and metasearch engines - will be able to use the brand name in ads.
This change is going to have major impact on hotel brands in Europe and elsewhere, by enabling OTAs and metasearch sites more easily to gain booking share, and by driving up hotels' cost-per-click of branded ad campaigns.
Hoteliers about to be impacted by this change might want to start studying the strategies and tactics being used by hotels in the USA and other countries already living with this situation to maintain booking share and control ad costs.