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http://ssrn.com/abstract=2142692
 
 

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The Role of Keyword Advertising in Competition among Rival Brands


David S. Evans


University of Chicago Law School; University College London; Global Economics Group

Elisa V. Mariscal


Centro de Investigación y Docencia Economica (CIDE); Global Economics Group

September 5, 2012

University of Chicago Institute for Law & Economics Olin Research Paper No. 619

Abstract:     
This paper considers recent proposals for restricting keyword advertising using competitor brand names. Keyword advertising is similar to many other widely used and valuable methods of marketing to the customers of rivals that increase competition and facilitate entry. Queries for products or services using search engines help inform consumers about other competitive alternatives and may enable them to compare different product offerings. Economists have found overwhelmingly that this type of informative and comparative advertising benefits consumers and, conversely, that restricting such advertising harms consumers. Complainants in some recent keyword advertising cases have sought to forbid search engines from using trademarked names as keywords, claiming that this may cause confusion. We argue that most consumers are likely to benefit from keyword advertising and are unlikely to be confused by the practice. Moreover, without a careful weighing of the likely costs and benefits of this type of regulation, consumers might bear significant costs by eliminating an easy reference with which to compare existing or new products, resulting in important reductions in consumer benefits. In fact, even more narrow remedies such as case-specific penalties for causing consumer confusion could discourage search engines from offering this service to advertisers, decreasing their value to consumers as a search tool and resulting in significant harm.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 15

Keywords: trademark, copyright, keyword advertising, informative advertising, advertising restrictions

JEL Classification: L15, L40, L51, K21, K23, L15

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Date posted: September 7, 2012 ; Last revised: November 9, 2012

Suggested Citation

Evans, David S. and Mariscal, Elisa V., The Role of Keyword Advertising in Competition among Rival Brands (September 5, 2012). University of Chicago Institute for Law & Economics Olin Research Paper No. 619. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2142692 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2142692

Contact Information

David S. Evans (Contact Author)
University of Chicago Law School ( email )
1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
University College London ( email )
London WC1E OEG
United Kingdom
Global Economics Group ( email )
1400 S. Dearborn, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60603
United States
Elisa V. Mariscal
Centro de Investigación y Docencia Economica (CIDE) ( email )
Mexico City
Mexico
Global Economics Group ( email )
1400 S. Dearborn, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60603
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.globaleconomicsgroup.com
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