People have been using the term “google” as a verb for years. That’s nothing new. What sounds like a great thing for brand awareness is actually something marketers know as a potential disaster. Think about the kleenex in your bathroom or the band-aid on your boo-boo (sorry, I have a two-year-old). Chances are you have no idea if you’re using a real Kleenex brand tissue or a Band-Aid brand bandage. Google doesn’t mind if you say you’re googling something, as long as you’re googling it on Google.
Here’s what got me thinking about this. On our proposal request forms, we ask new leads how they heard about us. We’re looking for things like “saw you speak at a conference” or “found you in a web search,” that will help us with our ROI tracking. At the same time, we’re capturing the referring site. That means if you came from a Google search for “web design company,” the form will store that information in the form of the link http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=hp&q=web+design+company. Here’s an example from the other day:
Now here’s the funny thing. Recently I’ve noticed a trend with people saying they heard about us through a Google search. However the referring site is listed as Bing. Once is a mistake. Twice is a coincidence. But multiple times tells me that people are “googling” on Bing. And likely Yahoo, and whatever other searches they use. Search, to some degree has become a commodity.
Take a look at the definition of the word, according to dictionary.com:
It still mentions the trademark, but so does the definition for “band-aid.” Want to see something even better? Check out the results for the definition in Google. You can see them by searching for “define: google.” Note the highlighted portions:
The most interesting part of this is that I don’t think Bing cares. In fact, I think they want people to use google as a verb. It diminishes the brand. Who says Kleenex makes the best kleenex anymore, or that another company doesn’t make a better band-aid? Bing might be the best place to google something. Call it whatever you want, but if people are googling on Bing, then Bing is getting the ad revenue.
Just an interesting observation. I’m no patent attorney, but I’d love to hear what one has to say on the issue!