Marking Your Territory: A Case for Branded PPC

Brand bidding is a hotly contested issue in the PPC world on a number of fronts. Should you do it? Is it ethical? What the hell can I do to stop my competitors doing it?

This is an area I feel quite strongly about, so much so that I analysed the topic as part of my undergrad dissertation. I believe that as a brand you should always have a branded campaign set up.

There are two sides of the fence, and more often than not I find my clients on one side and fellow PPCers on the other. Here’s why you should consider brand bidding, plus my tips on how best to utilise it!

1.   Multi-Channel Investment


Advertising in 2016 is a multi-channel, multi-screen experience. How many times have you seen an ad on TV and quickly Googled the business on your phone? For me, you can’t risk your ad not being as visible as possible when you’ve hooked prospective customers with your advertising on other channels.

Worse still, what if a competitor is bidding on your brand? You’ve enticed them and your competitor might have picked them up. Just because they’ve searched for your brand doesn’t mean users are sold on your product or service; this is a common mistake.

We have a client that runs TV campaigns in regular bursts. The brand boosts are noticeable. So much so that vs. a week with no TV advertising, brand searches are typically up over 100% with conversions subsequently increasing by the same figure. This client’s brand is also a generic term, making it even more essential to be visible in this period.

Capture everyone you can, don’t risk losing customers who are at the point of purchase to competitors bidding on your brand. A sharp competitor may see you’re running TV advertisements and try to piggy back on your brand campaign, capturing users looking for your brand. Control this by protecting your brand and maximising exposure.

My Tip: Use congruent messaging for your TV and branded ads while running both – make sure a user recognises your messaging from where they last saw your brand. Additionally, be certain that your budget has capacity to match demand in that period.


2.   Flexible Messaging


If you’re relying on organic listings for brand visibility, your flexibility is significantly reduced.

For example, if you’ve got a great special offer on a key product it is possible to quickly amend your PPC ads and ad extensions to target potential customers instantly. Organically your sitelinks are selected by Google with only the option to exclude, which makes it difficult to tailor these messages.

Agility is one of the most important aspects of marketing, and the beauty of PPC is its agility, allowing you to tailor your ads based on your current media focus.

My Tip: Maximise your branded ads with any special offers and campaigns you’re currently running. Your PPC ad is the virtual shop window of your business before a user reaches your site – make it look that way.


3.   Protect your online real estate


Competitors bidding on a brand is often one of the biggest pain points for my clients. We can all associate with this frustration. As long as your competitors aren’t directly imitating you, then there’s not a lot you can do, it’s just the nature of the beast online.

I’ve seen brand bidding get messy in the past, even being brought up in court for one campaign I previously managed. When a competitor is bidding on your brand, it’s generally cheap to defend. Conversely, your competitor is paying much more to be there due to a low quality score rating through a lack of relevance.

The best form of attack is defence in this case, ensuring you have an ad in the results can help put competitors off before they start.

My Tip: Legally, you don’t have a leg to stand on with brand bidding. Many have tried and failed in court with this. The most effective way to protect your brand on Google I’ve found is offline with a ‘gentleman’s agreement’. You can politely suggest that you don’t want to start a war as it’s mutually not beneficial. More often than not, people will back off.


4.   Brand Authority and Credibility


With the sheer amount of affluent Nigerian Generals and discount Ray-Ban outlets online, it’s no surprise that users are suspicious when dealing with a brand they’ve never heard of. 75% of users expect to see a paid and organic listing when searching for a brand.

Building trust is an important part of any website’s user journey. After spending time on reviews, case studies, payment icons and secure site status, don’t risk losing customers through a lack of trust. Get your brand ad listed, the clicks are cheap and you can provide an authoritative, credible position in the search results.

My Tip: Utilise the registered Trademark TM sign. This gives your ad that extra bit of credibility and ownership over your brand, especially where there are comparable products and services in the market. You are the brand, let people know that.


Final Thoughts


Organic cannibalisation may occur from bidding on your brand, of course it will. Some of your users were already sold and you’ve just paid for them.

However, I have always found the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts. Anecdotally, when I’ve tested pausing brand, it has cost more through lost opportunities than Ad Spend.

I understand the arguments against brand bidding. Some clients are suspicious of us looking for easy results, others don’t want to pay for the clicks they feel they’ve already earned when a user searches on their brand.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand a business wanting to cut costs, but at what cost? Consider the bigger picture for your business.

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