Just An Online Minute... Publishers Peeved By New Google Feature
With this tool, users can look for specific pages within a site without leaving Google. For instance, users looking for Times articles about Eliot Spitzer can first query on the phase "New York Times" and then -- rather than navigate to nytimes.com -- can query on a "search nytimes.com" box in the Google results pages that only returns results from the newspaper's pages.
Savvy Google users already know how to restrict their queries to a specific site in one step -- such as by typing in "Eliot Spitzer site:nytimes.com" -- but the new tool makes it easy for people who don't know the Google search tricks.
The report in today's Times says that some publishers aren't happy about this functionality because they want people to search on their own pages -- and be exposed to their ads -- rather than Google's.
The Times says that Google is allowing some publishers to opt out of the tool. Even so, it appears to open Google to even more marketers' complaints about trademark infringement. That's because the results page shown to people who have used the search-within-a-search box includes sponsored links that are sometimes purchased by publishers' competitors.
Google already faces trademark infringement lawsuits stemming from keyword bidding. So far, courts have given the okay to Google's keyword bidding system -- which allows companies to bid to appear as sponsored ads when users search for rivals -- but the lawsuits keep coming.
So far, one of the key questions has been whether search ads triggered by a trademark confuse consumers. In a lawsuit brought by Geico several years ago, Google prevailed on that issue. But these lawsuits continue to proliferate -- and Google's new search-within-search feature looks like it could spur more companies into complaining.