Merely Because It is Legal – Is It Ethical? Third Party Tee Time Practices: Under Scrutiny Again

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At the Golf, Inc. Fall Conference in Austin, Texas on September 12 -14, 2016, it was reported that Peter Hill, Chief Executive Officer of Billy Casper Golf Management stated that all leading third parties providers had signed the Tee Time Coalition Agreement.   Our understanding is different.

While all leading vendor indicated a willingness to comply with the guidelines, all have exceptions to various provisions.  Though none have formally signed, they all being held accountable to the standards outlined.

We believe sticking points revolve around the flow of data and the marketing by the third party of their client’s golf course.  A good example of the differing views involves the use of a course’s trademarks and undermining a golf course’s marketing efforts by the third parties.

Is it not the role of the vendor to represent their client’s best interests? If so, does a third party vendor who uses Google Adwords to sell barter times violate that implied contract?

One would think that the ability of a third party to secure a higher page ranking from their social media expertise and purchasing power would undermine the efforts of a golf course owner to effectively market.

The practice appears to be pervasive. Presented below is the Monthly Domain Overview report for GolfNow.com from spyfu.com:

golf-now-spyfu-redacted

 

You can view a report that lists the 7,550 paid keyword submissions used by GolfNow that includes the keyword, ad title, add URL, add description, volume, traffic results and the date last updated.  Download

EZ Links uses Google Adwords for teeoff.com. Presented below is the Monthly Domain Overview report from spyfu.com:

ez-links-spyfu

The EZ Links keywords submissions can be viewed here: Download

Golf18Network also uses Google Adwords as shown in the spyfu.com report:

golf18network

The Golf18Network keywords submissions can be viewed here:Download

Regarding the use of Google Adwords to sell barter times, Jared Williams Managing Director, Golf USA Tee Time Coalition writes,

“The Coalition’s position on Adwords is that third parties should not purchase a golf course’s brand name or trademark for marketing purposes without express written permission from the golf course.

What’s allowed? Generally, (and legally) there’s nothing wrong (ethics aside) with the purchase of another’s trademark for keyword advertising. But when a company bids on a trademark and then includes that trademark in the triggered advertisement (text/URL), that is an issue. Especially, when those ads mislead and redirect legitimate web traffic.

It is important to note, though, that an authorized reseller (or similar) of the trademarked product/services in question may be able to use the trademarked term in the advertisement.  That is one of the exceptions.

Many golf courses, when working with third parties, give the Online Tee Time Agents broad permission to purchase their golf course name and trademark for online marketing purposes. If golf courses want to work with third parties, but want to protect certain trademarks or names from being purchased for marketing purposes, then those specific keywords should be referenced in the contract.

Also, through purchasing golf course directories/listings, Online Tee Time Agents can appear relatively high in organic search results. Especially, if a golf course does not have a website or hasn’t made sure to optimize his golf course’s search position.”

Keyword advertising seems unfair. That is what I think. What is your opinion? Comment below.

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