Competitive brand-jacking occurs in many markets that have strong online sales and a complex web of channel and promotional partners. For example, according to new research of one sample industry, the U.S. hotel industry loses approximately $1.9 billion annually in online bookings because channel partners and affiliates compete with the hotels' direct channels by using branded search terms in paid search campaigns. Once a customer who is searching for a specific hotel brand has been attracted to the website of a hotel partner or affiliate, that customer often books a room at one of the competing properties displayed on these sites. The power of branded search terms is well known, especially at later stages of the sales cycle when searchers become purchasers. Search engines, in general, do not restrict the use of branded search terms to the brand itself, unless there is a clear case for bait and switch, piracy, or counterfeiting. In the case of the hotel industry, it's an advertising practice that adversely affects online bookings for the hotels and can also lead to paying unnecessary commissions and affiliate fees for traffic seeking the hotel's own booking site. Brands that do not specify how their terms can be used in online search and promotion risk losing business that is searching for that very brand. Online advertising professionals hold the driver's seat view of how a company's search terms are referenced online. As the losses in the hotel industry illustrate, additional levels of sophistication in managing the use of branded terms is emerging as a must-do for pay-per-click (PPC) professionals. Get the full story at iMedia Connection