Posted by & filed under PPCChat.

Hosted by @NeptuneMoon, this week’s PPCChat session was focused on Brand and Bidding. Experts shared their views on reasons for bidding on brand terms, their success and failure, reasons for bidding on competitors’ terms and more.

Q1: Do you bid on your brand terms?


We do, yes. An interesting situation with a non-related store that has a very simliar brand name in our market, but I would probably do it either way. @DarthSamK

Absolutely. Brand bidding is a must for low-cost conversions and brand defense. @Mel66

It depends on the brand along with their overall budget. If it makes sense, then yes. If not, I just leave it. @adwordsgirl

As a best practice I go for 100% IS on all brand keywords. (some exceptions) @FindingAmanda

Yes. There are so many cheap knockoffs that we have to but the cost is so low, I don’t mind it as much. I don’t do this with every brand, but the current brand I’m over, I do. @RyBen3

Almost always. @stevegibsonppc

Yes. Our client is actually 80/20 split on brand/generic bidding. @mindswanppc

I also advertise on brand terms as a general rule. @NeptuneMoon

In most cases I do, but always being cautious of adding proper audience exclusions and so on. @andreacruz92


Absolutely! Our industries are highly competitive and the last thing we need is for our deep-pocketed competitors to out-bid us on our own terms, like this guy. For pharma in particular – you HAVE to own your brand and tm. so many shady herbal unproven fake gummy nonsense out there can actually make people sick if they buy the wrong thing. @JuliaVyse

Yes. Because if you don’t, everyone else still will. @JonKagan

Depends, but as a rule of thumb no. I think it has it’s place, but sometimes the amount you have to spend to break the intent isn’t worth it. @zmste

Absolutely! Can’t have competitors getting clicks off my name. @MaverickAdverts

Absolutely. @CountXero

We bid on our clients’ brand terms. That’s a must. @marccxmedia


Q2: What is the biggest reason you have for bidding on brand terms?


Brand building and relationship. The cpc’s are cheaper and with previous testing it has shown to generate incremental revenue. @mindswanppc

Brand defense, taking up more SERP real estate, controlling the message, driving users to conversion-oriented pages, capturing low-hanging fruit. @Mel66

Brand defense, also if you get any decent % of mobile traffic, you’re nuts to not advertise on brand, IMO. @NeptuneMoon

Because it gives you the top spot on the page. @stevegibsonppc

The users are pre-qualified if they already know your name. Cost efficient. Protect your brand visility on the SERP. @andreacruz92

100% yes & the reasons are simple: 1. It’s cheap if you set bids correctly 2. You control the messaging people see (vs SEO) 3. People do it in every other form of advertising (trust me I’ve done it) 4. Why not capitalize on brand equity? 5. You can rotate promos/offers. @jdb426

If you don’t bid on your brand, someone else will (assuming your business is viable and making money) In competitive spaces it increases your SERP real estate and pushes competitors down! @markpgus

Inexpensive, safety & prevention of conquesting, and customer education. owning your brand can protect against cheap knockoffs! plus, brand RLSAs are awesome mid-funnel. @JuliaVyse

Protect abs 1st position; send to conversion page; actually control the narrative; cheap. I’m sure there’s more. @DarthSamK

You can’t always play offense. Sometimes you have to have a good defense against your competitors. (See Basecamp’s CEO in the news lately for reference) @RyBen3

The people know what they’re searching for, making them more likely to convert. @MaverickAdverts

Try and counter bidding on your own terms. Basically you bid on mine, I bid on yours. Also I think against industry leaders can find success. @zmste

Brand searches are part of the consumer journey, either for Consideration or Purchase. Not bidding there is a missed opportunity to speak to your target during an important touchpoint. @CountXero

Easy – to maintain a foothold on brand awareness (in addition to achieving reliable conversions and lowering the overall account CPA). @marccxmedia


Q3: What is the biggest reason you have for NOT bidding on brand terms?


If they rank really well organically and it’s a low competition market, I’d consider not creating a brand campaign. @adwordsgirl

If your name means something else that is very common. For illustrative purposes, I made up this name but something very similar happened to me – let’s assume your clients name is “strawberry” – it can get expensive quickly. Also if people tend to use your brand name to login into their accounts, it might get expensive if you don’t have experience using multiple layers of exclusion. @andreacruz92

1. If your brand name is generic and has overlap with normal searches. 2. If you’re a startup and a disproportiante amount of searches are about your funding etc. and not actual interest in buying (this is obviously a DR perspective). @markpgus

IF and only if, after testing, you find it isn’t doing anything incremental for you. This is most likely due to strong SEO, display, GDN. I’m all about testing and if you can save money without losing conversions…go for it! @mindswanppc

Reducing expenses caused by previous converters that are familiar with the brand and do not have an intent to visit competitors. @ClickGUARD

If I’m limited by budget I will give up some less profitable brand terms to make sure I can do some prospecting efforts as well. @FindingAmanda

In my career on my clients, the only 2 times we have elected not to were for 1. Incrementality testing on SEO and 2. Bad press we needed to separate ourselves from. @JonKagan

Budget can be spent in so many another ways. @zmste

The only reason we wouldn’t advise bidding on brand terms was if a brand was all alone in their category (i.e. no competitors). @CountXero

We don’t bid on certain match types of brand terms if the Avg. CPC gets too high. @marccxmedia


Q4: What is your best success or worst failure experience with bidding on brand terms?


1: Failure with generic brand names. Some searches were branded, other’s weren’t. Hard because of how competitive it was and the volume around the searches! BMM and Phrase on some more generic “Tech” names getting lot’s of volume from college sports searches. @markpgus

When I used to work with a client that had global campaigns, we tested turning off brand bidding & made sure we could see unified reporting across all our channels. We saw that rev didn’t drop and we were able to redirect the spend into other remote profitable areas. @mindswanppc

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced failure with a brand campaign. The successes remain the same across accounts, they tend to out perform other campaigns for obvious reasons. @adwordsgirl

I have experienced more than once running branded campaigns and then turning them off at client request, only to have them want to turn them back on when all the numbers dropped without it…@NeptuneMoon

Not 100% related but I had a client that ran brand but NOT shopping. Competitor shopping ads would show on our terms WITHOUT us being there at all! Turned on Shopping and BOOM huge uptick! @PPCKirk probably sees stuff like this more often! @markpgus

Not a specific example but the beauty vertical is so so tough with brand terms because the big box resellers (Sephora, Ulta, etc) drive up your brand name CPCs, but you have to bid because if not ….@FindingAmanda

In auto, you tend to get ‘swim lanes’ where corporate runs search, dealerships run their own search, and SO OFTEN they bid against each other. accidentally or otherwise. Franchisees too will compete with other franchisees, and corporate. @JuliaVyse

Thinking that just because we ranked for 2-3 1st page spots organically we wouldn’t have to bid on certain brand terms. Then our competitors started bidding and we lost a little bit of mindshare/brand awareness. It’s easy to think you’re invincible. @RyBen3

Dealing with improperly done SEO on websites, the SEM comes to the rescue. @JonKagan

We’ve had pretty reliable conversions on a weekly basis from SaaS and hospitality clients when it comes to branded terms. @marccxmedia

We had a client who had multiple accounts that were managed by multiple agencies for different product sets; however, the company name, as a brand, was used in all accounts. They would never make a decision to turn it off on all but one account. @CountXero


Q5: Do you bid on competitor terms?


Generally, yes, I encourage competitor bidding. @NeptuneMoon

DAMN RIGHT I DO! @markpgus

High competition market, 100% I do. Low competition market, if the search volume justifies it. @adwordsgirl

If I see an opportunity, yes. Though they have to be in the same price range. @MaverickAdverts

Another reason for not doing it is if I have a very limited budget and the competitors’ brand name has more volume than mine – I don’t want to spend all my budget on people who might have already decided who they want to be with. @andreacruz92

If we can afford it. It’s mostly my last resort recommendation to a client. And again…I look at the numbers. If it’s driving no conversions and just making our data look bad…I’m out! @mindswanppc

I rarely bid on competitor terms. It’s not worth the risk of them coming back and bidding on MY terms and driving up my brand CPCs. I’m not opposed to testing it tho. @FindingAmanda

Not always. For example, if nobody is bidding on my brand name, I have to analyze this carefully because as soon as I am in somebody’s SERP, they will be in mine. @andreacruz92

Yes, as long as: 1. They have brand recognition and/or they are top player in the space, 2. They are running media I can ride the coat tails of (ie TV) 3. It makes enough financial sense to steal traffic from them, even at a loss. @JonKagan

We have before for our main PPC clients, but we’ve dialed it back in recent months. @marccxmedia

Absolutely. Brand searches can be used for various points in the consumer journey, including Consideration. Bidding on a competitor is an opportunity to be including in that consideration. @CountXero


Q6: What is the biggest reason(s) you have FOR bidding on competitor terms?


Retaliation mostly/extra budget. If the competitor is bidding on my client’s terms – then maybe there is opportunity for us there. @mindswanppc

When you’re the David in an industry with Goliath brands. @heyglenns

Biggest reason to bid on competitor terms for me is usually to cover bases – not everyone who searches on a brand is automatically brand loyal. Might be able to peel some of them off. @NeptuneMoon

1. Probably a higher intent signal than Non-branded 2. Potentially cheaper clicks than Non-branded 3. Because I’m evil. @markpgus

Stealing their customers with better offers… @MaverickAdverts

To ride someone else’s success (or occasional failure) to create brand awareness for myself (said in the most evil voice possible) @JonKagan

It’s a good way to bring in potential customers who are in the consideration phase. @marccxmedia


Q7: What is the biggest reason(s) you have for NOT bidding on competitor terms?


Expensive!! Sometimes the comparative CPC/CPA is just not worth it. @mindswanppc

1. Expensive Clicks 2. Low Quality score means hardly being served 3. Lot’s of effort on the LP sided to get a better QS 4. No conversions. @markpgus

1. The cost no longer makes sense from a holistic standpoint 2. their brand has become such a dumpster fire you want to avoid it 3. You might’ve been accused of collusion (a la 1800 Contacts move) @JonKagan

Might be different answers for search network – perhaps high cost vs display network – lower cost – and less visible relationship to competitor brand terms.. @smarketreports

When it’s a service that requires a lot of after-the-service follow up. The query has high potential to be related to an already paid for service, not in need of new service. @DavidKyle

There may be confusion on the consumer or client side (i.e., someone searching for a competitor with a similar brand name, and phone support on the client’s side not being aware of the competitor campaign). @marccxmedia


Q8: When you advertise on competitor terms, do you simply advertise your brand and its benefits and/or a promo offer or do you try to tie into the competitor in any way? Why or why not?


What we’ve done in the past is Brand benefits/offers. Google not allowing us to use the brand in text kind of limits us tying the ad to the competitor. Although I’ve seen some brands cheekily get around that. @mindswanppc

How much are you willing to poke the bear? Like @JuliaVyse emphasized, if your offer/business is not even a match then do not try to go head to head. If you’re clearly better BRING IT ON! @markpgus

Mixed bag. Depends on what legal team says, and how closely I can misspell their name, and it still look legit in the ad, while getting around trademark compliance. @JonKagan

We’ve advertised how the client stacks up to the competitor from a product standpoint. @marccxmedia


Q9: It was suggested by Jason Fried of Basecamp recently that Google Ads allowing businesses to bid on competitors’ terms was unethical or even possibly extortion. Your thoughts on this?


Bizarre to me that someone could feel so entitled to Organic traffic. @markpgus

Not un-ethical all. Because honestly…most the time is doesn’t pay off. Also, I feel like it makes all advertisers/brands work harder. If you’ve created a great product or service & have brand loyalty – competition can’t knock you off your pedestal! So do the work! @mindswanppc

RIP @NachoAnalytics but this is what I think of everytime this topic comes up! @markpgus

Maybe if his brand was stronger/he had a more distinct name he’d get more direct traffic and not need to worry about it. @markpgus

I think this is also a legacy to a prevailing myth of the early internet – that it was a level playing field and any biz could compete with any other biz. It just isn’t so. @NeptuneMoon

@jasonfried is failing to accept that this all part of the inherent cost of doing business, and this exact same thing exists in nearly every type of marketing, in different forms. If you don’t like it, don’t run on them, but you may take a hit. @JonKagan

Exactly this. No one owns an exclusive on a SERP. He sounded whiny and entitled. @Mel66

I wrote a post about this, but essentially, branding has become a lost art and search engines don’t owe you anything. My post: @NeptuneMoon

This blog most definitely inspired my answer! @mindswanppc

Here we go. Search is Google’s product. It’s not extortion for them to set rules in an auction, and we don’t have to like them. Google has not set a rule that you HAVE to build on your own brand, and they have no reason to help you protect your brand for free. @JuliaVyse

I heard  @jdprater @Wickerpedia opine that he did this to reinforce his view that contentious views grab free attention. If he gets lots of Basecamp signups by throwing this PPC hand-grenade, he’ll have proven that content/word-of-mouth can still work.

It’s not extortion, as companies have been doing similar things in other ad formats. Just look at all the competing dental hygiene or car company TV ads. It’s the evolution of the industry. @marccxmedia


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