NZ Brand War: Stuff vs NZ Herald

Give Stuff full marks for audacity.

The Fairfax Media news site aggregates news stories from Wellington’s The Dominion Post, Christchurch’s The Press and regional papers such as the Nelson Mail, Taranaki Daily News and The Timaru Herald. But for national news coverage The New Zealand Herald, owned by rival NZME, is better known.

The solution? Google AdWords, where Stuff is not only bidding on The New Zealand Herald’s brand name, but also referencing their competitor’s brand name in ad text. Neither is against Google AdWords policies, of course, and we see plenty of advertisers bidding on the brand names of their rivals. But not many include the competitor brand name in their ad copy, if only because the trademarks have been registered with Google.

Interestingly, Stuff appears to be targeting mobile devices only (not tablets or desktop computers). And, of course, Stuff’s ad appears first on the page, before the organic search listing forThe New Zealand Herald’s mobile website.

stuff ad

Why should you care?

Bidding on a competitor’s brand name doesn’t make sense for some advertisers, but can be an easy way to gain a new audience for others.

Typically, if you already have a well-established brand you have less need to bid on a competitor brand. And, if your competitor’s brand is also well-known, you’re unlikely to gain much from the practice.

But if your company’s brand is new or not well-known, associating your company with another’s can be an easy way to get noticed.

For Stuff, there’s not much to lose from this gambit. And, in targeting mobile devices, the site is likely to reach an audience that just wants national news and wants it fast, whether it is on The New Zealand Herald site or on Stuff.



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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.