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Politicians play dirty with Google Ads

The main political parties in the UK are currently gearing themselves up for the next general election, which must be called for 3 June this year at the latest. Key to this election, more than those in the past, will be the use of advertising, particularly online and through new and social media.

The Conservative Party got in early with billboard advertising and have now turned their attentions online, according to Rory Cellan-Jones. But this is not straightforward advertising, and uses tactics online retailers have been utilising for a few years: buying the keywords of rivals. So, type "Gordon Brown" into Google and you will probably be greeted with an ad for the Conservatives.

The Tories have bought advertisements for keywords such as "Labour Party" and the names of rival party leaders "Gordon Brown" and "Nick Clegg" through Google's AdWords program. This means that when you search for these terms using the Google or YouTube searches a small piece of text and a link appear in the sponsored links section, directing you towards the Conservatives website or YouTube channel.

Cellan-Jones reveals that "the Conservatives reckon it's one of the cheaper ways of getting their message to a wider audience" and that they have actually been "experimenting with this particular digital campaign tool for a while."

Earlier today, luxury goods brand Louis Vuitton lost its five-year legal battle against Google over rivals using its trademarks as AdWords to direct consumers to other products. Although advertisers will have to make it clear that there is no association between them and the trademarks, they will still be able to buy advertising space for when people search for these brands. However, it will be the advertisers - not Google - who are liable for any trademark infringement.

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