Marketers forced to grab keywords so competitors can't

In a free market of keywords, brands are being forced to pay top dollar to protect their own name, according to AdAge.

For example, Vibrant Media's Intellitxt, which places contextual text and video ads directly in the body of web documents, closed a deal in which Chrysler snapped up all of its brand keywords, such as Sebring and SRT - for the entire year. Ultimately, the deal protected those words from the automaker's competitors.

An instance of a company that bought competitors' brands as keywords: a story on AutoWeek hyperlinked the phrase "Toyota Camry" to an ad for Ford touting a side-by-side comparison of the Camry with the Ford Fusion.

Intellitxt's program, which allows advertisers to secure names for an entire year, conjures memories of Google's legal battle with Geico over the search engine's allowing insurance competitors to buy the keyword "Geico."

A judge ruled it OK to sell the search term to Geico's competition, but that using the word in the headline of an ad would be misleading and therefore constitute trademark infringement.

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