Google is on the verge of being pummeled with huge search volumes from football fans around the world in wake of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Looking at previous data on the last two World Cups, we can see the upswing that Google can expect when the tournament starts on June 12. The last two World Cups, held in 2006 and 2010, demonstrate the kind of search traffic Google will be seeing, though what may surprise is that this World Cup in Brazil will be largely free of ads on Google.com/uk.
FIFA, the organising body that puts on the World Cup every four years has trademark/intellectual property protection on terms including “World Cup”, “COPA 2014”, “FIFA” and even “Brazil 2014”. You’d think searching for ‘Brazil 2014′ would return results of companies selling tickets, travel packaged holidays or even FIFA-authorised football shirts. Instead, you’ll be seeing Google’s OneBox, which currently offers an at-a-glance view of upcoming matches, the groups, game brackets and a link to FIFA.com, of course.
Google’s current policy on third-party trademarks in AdWords campaign allows advertisers to bid on others’ trademarked keywords, but doesn’t permit those terms to be use in ad text. Though, increasingly, Google has blocked ads from appearing at all when people search for third-party trademarked terms. This policy is very evident when the eve of World Cups, Olympics, Super Bowls, NBA Playoffs ans Stanley Cups arrives.
These organisations are all vigilant in protecting their trademarks, and Google often seems to go above and beyond protecting these organisation’s rights by keeping ads off a wider array of search results. For example, even searching for “world cup results” or “when does the world cup start” have absolutely no ads at this time. Big, official sponsors are often granted exemptions however by the organisations. Coca-Cola, for example, is a World Cup sponsor and its ad can be spotted when searching for “world cup games”.
You might have spotted FIFA’s own ads on both of these search results. FIFA can of course advertise on its own trademarked terms, but has so far let the OneBox do all the talking. They, might however, once the World Cup get sunderway, expand its ad campaign in which we’ll likely see more official sponsors rank up their advertising. Other advertiseers looking to get in on this action will have to get creative though. They will probably need to expand their keyword lists to beat the OneBox and get around Google’s generous trademark protections.
You may have spotted FIFA’s own ads on both of these search results. FIFA could advertise on its own trademarked terms, but so far is choosing to let the OneBox dominate those results. When the World Cup gets underway, we may see FIFA expand its ad campaign and we’ll likely see more official sponsors ratchet up their advertising. Other advertisers looking to get in on the World Cup action, however, will have to get creative with their keyword lists in order to beat out the OneBox and get around Google’s generous trademark protections.