A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Pet Circle targets local petfood shop with Google ad campaign

The big Pet Circle business has been targeting local small business The Petfood Warehouse with ads that specifically name The Petfood Warehouse.

Google permits this, a business naming a competitor in an ad. This is what one of the Pet Circle ads targeting The Petfood Warehouse looks like:

 The headline of one Pet Circle ad says: The Petfood Warehouse – Fast Delivery + Free Shipping.

 The headline of another Pet Circle ad says: Petfood Warehouse | Low-Priced Pet Food Online

If you click on either ad it takes you to the Pet Circle website.

I can understand how a shopper may think they are shopping at The Petfood Warehouse when they click on the link. The headline suggests that it is an ad for The Petfood Warehouse and the ad presents when you do a Google search for The Petfood Warehouse. But this is an ad for Pet Circle.

Why does this matter, why am I writing about it at the Newsagency Blog? fair question. The Petfood Warehouse is a customer of the POS software company I own, Tower Systems. I feel for their situation as I went through the same thing last year. The Google keyword Tower Systems was targeted by a company that used it in their ad heading promoting POS software. No, it was not a newsagency software company. People searching for us were presented their ad with our name in the ad headline text – which is exactly what has been happening with The Petfood Warehouse.

This all matters here because it can happen to you. Beware. keep your eyes open. I know of one business it happened to and their online sales dropped from 25 a day to 5 a day when this happened.

Pet Circle is not the local small business serving the Illawarra like The Petfood Warehouse.

I’m not saying Pet Circle is a bad business. But, I am raising a concern that they are paying to use the name of a competitor of theirs in a apparent move to see people looking for that business to shop at Pet Circle.

In my opinion, it sucks that Google permits this type of advertising, where a competitor uses the name of another business in a headline for an add to effectively pass the ad off as being for the other business.

I am all for competition, fair competition. Local small businesses do not have the marketing budget for expensive Google campaigns. I think any Google ad that uses the name of a competitor to divert eyeballs and clicks is unfair, inappropriate.

Maybe the best way to deal with businesses that squat on a competitor’s business name like this is to click on their ads. A higher ad spend for no revenue will soon get the attention of those in control of their ad budget.

Being a local small business is challenging, in the physical world as well as online, as this issue shows.

Hopefully, the folks at Pet Circle will change their approach. I have lobbied them to do this, in support of the family that owns The Petfood Warehouse.

Footnote: LegalVision makes some interesting comments about this type of advertising.


Join the discussion

  1. Jonathan Wilson

    If its not already, it should be illegal under false-and-misleading-advertising laws to run an ad that pretends to be an ad for business x but is really an ad for business y.


  2. Tim

    I have just done my own google search using the term “the petfood warehouse” and links to the Wollongong based business appear. No links to pet circle. I live in Wollongong so perhaps location makes a difference?


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