PPC: Who Owns The Keywords?
Posted on 11.13.2007
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If you have outsourced the management of paid search campaigns, who owns the
keywords (the intellectual property) that are being used to promote a website
and its products and services?
There are two schools of thought on the subject. The first is that it is
owned by the client because it is a service they are paying for. The second is
that since "keyword selection" is such an important part of a PPC marketers
skill set that the list should be kept confidential. There are many good reasons
for keeping keyword lists private as giving out such valuable information means
clients could potentially leave. Unfortunately, it's not a black and white
Best practice for both sides may just be to establish detailed guidance
within a formal contract. If a paid search campaign manager were to spend time
researching keywords, they should be compensated for the time they invest. On
the flip side, advertisers contracting PPC specialists should understand that
there is more to effectively managing campaigns than raising and lowering bids
alone. This, in my opinion, does not warrant ownership however. Unfortunately,
it's not a black and white issue.
In the end, it is simply very important to understand at the outset what
should happen when it comes to your intellectual property and ideally it would
come in the form of a contract. Companies outsourcing their paid search
activities to qualified parties should also consider setting up their campaign
separately from the paid search managers account as if ever there were a need to
go in-house, the transition would be much smoother.
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