Broker alleges false Google ad violates FSCO rules

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One leading broker is accusing a competitor of using his name to attain leads through Google’s ad services.

“I did a Google search of “Butler Mortgage” and at the top of the page (there was) an ad: ‘Butler Mortgage – Second Mortgages @ great rates,’” Ron Butler of Verico Butler Mortgage told “This is a totally different broker than Butler Mortgage; different license number (and) here’s the thing: this is 100 per cent illegal.

“FSCO’s prime advertising rule is very simple: all advertising must be in the broker’s licensed name.” contacted Ron Goodfellow of Mortgage Central – the brokerage linked through the ad – who said he had no knowledge of the ad.

“As I was telling Ron I was unaware of this situation until this situation and I told the I.T. person to pause the campaign that is going on,” Goodfellow said. “Before I could get that sentence out Ron informed me he has filed a grievance with FSCO so basically I will let FSCO decide if I did anything wrong … I didn’t know what was happening.”

The ad has since been removed.

According to Butler, Mortgage Central isn’t the first competitor to use ads that are linked to his name.

“Other brokers do the same,” Butler said. “The key difference is when they pay for Google ads based on the term “Butler Mortgage”  it is legal because they do not use my name.”
  • Merv G on 2014-08-19 11:34:50 AM

    You should call your web site " Butlernews .ca"
    Seems like Mr Butler has a monopoly on comments and statements

  • Steve on 2014-08-19 12:09:34 PM

    In my area, I find most internet advertising does not meet government code, but no one actually surveys the ads. Its a honor system where nothing happens unless you complain. Wouldn't it be nice if the regulatory body found the problem. If wishes were fishes I guess...

  • Paul Meredith, CityCan Financial on 2014-08-19 12:12:59 PM

    i'm not a Google adwords expert or anything, but one thing I do know is that you can set your ads up for a category where the term searched is automatically used as the top line of the ad (don't recall what this is called). When someone searches 'butler mortgage', then that is exactly what shows as the first line of his ad.

    This is most likely what happened, and if that is the case, then Goodfellow didn't have any idea this was happening (and probably wasn't happy it was) until he was notified.

  • Mark on 2014-08-19 12:47:37 PM

    Sounds like Mr. Butler could have given Goodfellow a chance to fix the problem instead of going to his favourite news forum. Non issue. Move on

  • wow on 2014-08-19 1:18:06 PM

    I have no idea that Mr Ron Butler is a big shot until this article.

    Salute to you !

  • Ron Butler on 2014-08-19 1:58:21 PM

    This is funny actually. Paul how would you like it if you did a Google search on your company name and someone had an AD on Google who's AD started with "CityCan Financial" with no mention of their own company? I don't think you would like it.

    You are correct that you can arrange a Google Pay Per Click campaign that targets another broker's website and that is 100% fine BUT the AD you run on PPC should not pretend to be that same broker. This AD was designed to appear to be Butler Mortgage. Paul, take it from me you have to specifically build a false name into the subject title.

    The idea that it was unintentional is just plain silly, nonsense in fact. There is no way for a fake business name to happen accidently. Even if an internet advertising consultant dreamed up the illegal AD faking the name then the question becomes is a broker responsible for his own advertising or not and FSCO is very firm on that concept. The buck stops with the broker.

    When you see all those illegal signs pasted up on stop signs with no broker name or number on them do you assume: "well it cannot be the broker's fault he likely never knew what the bad sign maker was doing" if you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn you may be interested in buying.

  • Paul Meredith, CityCan Financial on 2014-08-19 2:24:13 PM

    I of course wouldn't like it Ron, and I understand why you would be upset seeing that. I just question as to whether it was intentional. The first line of a Google PPC ad can be set up so the keyword entered is used in that far as I remember from when I studied adwords. Whether it be CIBC mortgage, or Butler. This is why I think it may have been unintentional. If you had googled RBC mortgage, the first line of his ad would have read RBC mortgage. If i'm wrong about this, then I stand corrected. If the other broker specifically tried to impersonate Butler, then of course action needed to be taken. I would have done the same if it were my name. I really don't see how anyone could think they could get away with doing something like this intentionally, but there are always people that surprise me.

  • wow on 2014-08-19 2:26:47 PM

    I hope some days people will do the same to me as what they did to Mr Ron !

    Means I am famous !!

  • Ron Butler on 2014-08-19 2:49:41 PM

    If I Google Search RBC mortgages many other websites come up as ADS but NONE of them says "RBC offers lowest rate Second Mortgages" on the title line and when you click on that link you are taken to Mortgage Central. You have to build that deceit into your ad.

  • Carmelo on 2014-08-19 4:53:16 PM

    it is too much business around....focusing on Big BS......i remember when i was a Top National Producer even time for the Bathroom...

  • Alberta Broker on 2014-08-20 10:37:10 AM

    I am a Mortgage Broker in Alberta, for the last several years, has been using domain names focused on Alberta, BC and other provinces however they don't even have a license to operate in this province! (,,....)

  • Don on 2014-08-24 6:10:18 PM

    Ron, you are correct. I can have my ad show up on a search for any keyword or keyword phrase, ie: CIBC mortgage, but adwords does not insert that phrase in my ad. I would have to intentionally create a headline using CIBC. In your case Mortgage Central is putting your name in its headline. This not only deceptive but illegal and against both FSCO rules and Google Ads terms of service. They are more likely to get their account banned from Google than by FSCO. You have every right to protect your name and brokerage from illegal use. The ultimate responsibility to compliance to all laws falls upon the broker. Saying "I had no idea" is not a defence in criminal law, civil law, contract law and surely not copyright law.

  • Scott Dawson on 2014-08-25 9:34:29 AM

    It's called Keyword insertion -

  • Don on 2014-08-25 1:23:43 PM

    Scott, you can have the search term as a title but you are restricted in using any term that is copywritten or restricted use. I could not for example "MLS.CA" in my title as that URL is the sole property of CREA. I could make a keyword but not as part of my ad title.

  • Ron Butler on 2014-08-25 3:26:49 PM

    @ Don............... your point is 100% correct but only a handful of mortgage brokerages in Canada have trademarked names. The networks like VERICO and DLC are trademarked but very few individual brokerages are have a copyright.

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