They Won’t Let Me Buy My Own Name

In the ongoing confusion over search-engine trademark policies a strange thing has happened. When I left The Kelsey Group I decided to run an AdWords campaign to let people know how to find me. I tried to use my own name "Greg Sterling" in the headline (the link at the top of the text ad). Google wouldn't let me saying that "Sterling" was a trademarked term (it's not and it can't be a trademark violation in this context). I requested an exception but that wasn't granted.

So I'm forced to use this ad:

Looking for Greg?
He's still doing local. Here's his
new blog and contact info

Greg? Kinda weak.

I had thought about "Greg Ster" to suggest my last name, but thought it would be too cute and unprofessional. I can of course use "Greg Sterling" as a keyword, which I have done. But to my suprise and displeasure I discovered that when I recently searched for my ad on Google, this came up:

Greg Sterling
Speaking at Ad-Tech? Me Too. Would
You Like to Catch Up for a Coffee?

It turns out this is an Indian company whose CEO is speaking at Ad-Tech in SF. As far as I can tell they've used the speaker list and every speaker name as keywords for their campaign. That's not prohibited, but the idea that this company is being allowed by Google to use my name in its headline (when I could not) is strange and reflects the confusion and flaws in Google's enforcement of its trademark/editorial policies.

I've contacted the offending company and asked them to stop using my name in their headline. I don't have time right now to file a formal complaint with Google.

One Response to “They Won’t Let Me Buy My Own Name”

  1. Anony Says:

    Good Habit changes with times!

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