Lauren Weisel

by Lauren Weisel | Search Marketing Strategy

One common question advertisers ask is “am I wasting money by bidding on my brand terms in paid search?” If the primary concern is wasting money paying for brand traffic that would be coming to you anyway, you might be interested in this case study of what happened to performance when we turned off brand search campaigns for a client. But beyond performance, advertisers reap many other rewards from bidding on their branded terms.

Own the results page when people are searching

When you rank well organically and appear in paid ads, there’s potential to completely dominate the results page. By taking advantage of Google Ad Extensions, you can further maximize real estate (plus, those extensions are more likely to show for branded searches). While owning the SERP on desktop is important, it’s even more critical on mobile, where real-estate is scarce above the fold.

Search Engine Results Page for Branded TermSearch engine results page for brand search on mobile

Defend Against Competition

Many advertisers bid on searches for their competitors in hopes of swaying users to convert on their site instead (in fact, you’re probably doing this right now). It’s important to recognize that those competitors are most likely doing the same to you. By not bidding on your own brand terms, you’re opening up the door for them to be the first result searchers see when looking for your brand. If they aren’t currently, that could change at any moment. And what about modified brand searches like “DSW shoe stores?” Any keyword using ‘shoe stores’ will serve ads against that search, so the only way to prevent competition from taking your hard-won traffic is to be running an SEM campaign. In most cases, any added cost is worthwhile as insurance against this kind of leakage. In particularly competitive industries, brand becomes an even more important part of the SEM program.

Control Messaging

Even if you rank well organically, the messaging shown in that listing is likely pretty generic (or maybe even outdated). Paid ads provide an opportunity to share specific events and promotions, which can have a big impact on performance. Because paid search ad copy can be updated as often as you’d like, this messaging control is particularly helpful for retail brands during key shopping times (like Black Friday & Cyber Monday), when promotional details could make or break someone’s decision to purchase.

Inexpensive, High Quality Traffic

Your branded search terms will likely garner the highest quality scores in your account because they’re hyper-relevant to you (no surprise). Google rewards this with cheap CPCs – the CPCs you pay on branded terms will be some of the lowest in your account. The audience searching for your branded terms is also higher quality than any non-brand keywords you bid on, as these people are already familiar with your brand! We know that the path to conversion typically includes multiple steps. Therefore, it’s likely that branded searchers have done previous research, and searching for a branded term is the last step in their purchase process, making it all the more important to ensure those searchers are getting to your site and completing that conversion action. Think about all the time and money that goes into getting people to search for your brand, and then imagine that customer vanishing at that point. Painful, right? Brand search campaigns can actually raise the ROI of your other marketing.

Understand Your Competitive Landscape

By bidding on your own branded terms, you’ll be able to garner data on your competition through Google’s Auction Insights. The Auction Insights tool provides insight on which advertisers are actively bidding on your brand, how aggressively they’re pushing spend, and how frequently they show up next to your ads (or even above your ads). Oftentimes, you may see competition from brands you don’t expect or consider a direct competitor. If you aren’t bidding on your brand, you’ll unfortunately not be able to access any of this competitor data that can provide extremely valuable insights.

Take these considerations into account when determining if you should bid on branded search. Keep potential risks in mind when testing. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more.