WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK: Avoid legal traps with your AdWords

Buying AdWords is an effective way to ensure your business makes easy money from online ads. Cheap and easy to use, they’re a sure-fire way to bring in new business as long as you use the right words. But last week, eyewear retailer Specsavers found itself in court against a Canadian firm, accusing Coastal Contacts of engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct after the company allegedly ran advertisements on results pages where users searched for the words “contacts” and “SpecSavers”.

You need to be extremely careful with your AdWords. You can encroach on others’ territory and find yourself in some real legal trouble.

Feel free to try and make as much money as you can, but be careful not to step on any other business’s toes, especially when using another company’s name.

The ACCC is looking out for online retail

The ACCC is on the case. This week commissioner Rod Sims said in a speech that “front and centre” of its focus this year would be the online world, and making sure established players aren’t making things unfair for the little guys.

Sims has made this case before, and the ACCC has been going after suppliers which have been engaging in price maintenance. But it’s good to know the regulators are on the case.

If you’re a supplier and you’ve been putting pressure on retailers to only sell goods at certain prices, then you should be a little bit concerned. The ACCC is taking this sector more seriously than ever before, and you’re better off getting on the right side of the law.

Consider the humble QR code

The past few weeks have been a positive one for QR codes. With Sportsgirl adopting a type of virtual shop window, and Woolworths a QR code-based shop where passengers in Victoria can buy items on their smartphones, it seems the QR code is making a comeback.

This type of code has always been used on print advertising and other materials until now, but it could possibly represent a new link in online sales transactions.

Your business may not need QR codes, but if you’re using any sort of print media, this is definitely something you should consider. Whether it’s a virtual shop window or even an addition to your print advertising, giving the shopper a little extra is always a good thing.

Whether it be a discount, or perhaps access to VIP discounts that others don’t have, using this type of technology shows you’re in-tune with what younger shoppers are doing. Don’t do it for no reason at all, but be willing to experiment.

A little bit of PR never goes astray

The Air Australia controversy has been a disaster. Passengers stranded overseas with no money and no way of getting home. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a disaster for someone.

But Scoopon has managed to make itself look good by providing refunds to customers who bought Air Australia deals through its site. In fact, it said it had a representative on the ground within hours providing information on flights, meals and accommodation.

You might argue Scoopon had some sort of responsibility for refunding its customers due to its involvement, but this is also a nice bit of PR. The company spied an opportunity and took it, contrasting itself against the insurance companies which argued it wouldn’t bail out some customers due to policies not covering insolvency.

This is similar to the way Nando’s jumped on Grill’d a couple of years ago, honouring discount vouchers that had spread further than the company anticipated.

If you spy an opportunity to contrast yourself against others in a difficult situation, especially online, then you should take it if it will end up in a net benefit for you. Don’t put others down, but using the internet and technology to get ahead is a great advantage.

The AFL and top level domains

The AFL surprised a lot of people in the domain name industry last week by announcing it would apply for a new top level domain, providing it with the “.afl” suffix to use for its own websites.

It’s the first major Australian organisation to apply for a top-level domain, and signifies that perhaps large businesses and organisations may have more interest in such a change than previously thought.

There are few small businesses that would have the money to apply for a top level domain, but the AFL’s application represents a good lesson for SMEs, in that it’s always important to be checking out what domains you should be registering.

If you have a good domain name idea, then go and buy it. They’re incredibly cheap, and they’ll stop squatters or people who have the same idea from registering the URL, which can make or break competition.

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