*AdWords Broad Match Function: A Rich Playground for ‘Geeks’ But A Hard Nut To Crack For ‘Jurists’

Google has recently announced that it has added additional functions to its set of keyword options. In a nutshell “broad match modifier” will allow advertisers to define more precisely which user queries might trigger the display of their ad.

The issue of broad match is a delicate one, not only because the issue itself is indeed quite complicated (if you are not working with it on a daily basis) but also because most jurists who work in the field of keyword advertising apparently seems to either blindly rely on more or less suitable analogies/simplifications or just get it wrong. (notable exception: the readers of my blog ;) Same applies to judges, who in principle, should be well advised by their impartial experts.


The reason why I got again hooked up on the topic of “broad match” was a passage (e.g. para 16, Question four: para 45 ss) from the ECJ’s very recent Portakabin v Primakabin decision in which the court states that the defendant has “chosen” not only the TM of his competitor as a keyword but also three variations which resemble the TM with just minor spelling mistakes.

16 For the ‘AdWords’ referencing service, Primakabin chose the keywords ‘portakabin’, ‘portacabin’, ‘portokabin’ and ‘portocabin’. The last three variations were chosen in order to avoid a situation in which internet users, performing a search for units manufactured by Portakabin, might miss Primakabin’s ad because they had made minor spelling mistakes in typing the word ‘portakabin’. [underlining added by austrotrabant]

This truly surprises me. Is it realistic to assume that someone in the defendant’s sales department sat down just to book the three most popular misspellings of their favourite keyword? Wouldn’t it have been just more efficient to book the keyword “portakabin” and accept that AdWords default keyword option (broad match) would do the rest?

The author would be tempted to trust the Dutch court in this respect, but can’t help but think of the Austrian Wein&Co case.  This Austrian case mainly got decided upon the fact that the defendant’s ad also contained the claimant’s trademark (“Wein & Co“) in its title. The defendant argued in front of the court of first instance that the display of the claimant’s TM only happened only because the defendant had enabled the “dynamic keyword insertion” keyword option while having booked only the German word for wine “Wein“.  The judge at the HG Wien however rejected the claimants argument and (wrongly) stated that the parties failed to proof that such a function exists [sic!].


However, for all of my readers who are into keyword options and who want to keep up with developments in this field, please find a description of the new feature, referred to by Google as “broad match modifier” (BMM) below. At this point I’d also like to point out recently established Search Query Report in Google AdWords which allows advertisers who use the “broad match” keyword option to check (ex post) in detail which search queries have triggered their ad and effectively resulted in clicks on the ad.

So well, that’s where the geeky part starts: For more information please also see the respective Inside AdWords blog, as well as an extensive description on postrimmkaufman and searchengineland.


How does it work? Put a plus symbol (+) directly in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. The example given by Google is, “the keyword formal +shoes will match the search “evening shoes,” but the keyword +formal +shoes will not.” Here is a chart that breaks down most of the match types:



PS: I thereby ask to be forgiven for my provocative and arrogant tone in regard to jurists and judges but I guess I have to admit that after more than one year of intensive studying of this issue I am surprised to see that I feel kind of personally insulted if I read articles or decisions which just doesn’t get the basics of keyword advertising right. … while at the same time I fully acknowledge that those people earn their living through other things and don’t spent their time writing 400 pages on some topic just to get granted their long-wished-for doctoral degree ;)
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1 Response to “*AdWords Broad Match Function: A Rich Playground for ‘Geeks’ But A Hard Nut To Crack For ‘Jurists’”



  1. 1 BGH: MOST-Pralinen; German Supreme Court remains liberal on Keyword Advertising & contradicts Austrian and French Supreme Courts « Austrotrabant's Blog Trackback on 17/12/2012 at 08:02

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