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Brand bidding – Waste of time or an important part of PPC?


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Dave Karellen
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Brand bidding in your PPC campaigns is a divisive topic. Should you bid on your branded terms? Should you bid on your competitor’s brand terms?

Brand bidding is a PPC strategy for bidding on search terms relating to your brand. For example, ecommerce platform Shopify makes bids on ‘shopify’ search terms, guaranteeing that they appear for any users searching for their brand. Similarly, a competitor might also bid on those search terms so that they appear on searches from undecided users.

There are many things that people disagree on these days. Xbox vs PlayStation, Manchester City vs Manchester United. Bap vs roll vs barm and so on. When it comes to PPC, brand bidding is another that causes a heated debate.

Many would stress that it’s an important strategy, others would suggest it’s a waste of time. So, to throw another hat into the debate we are taking a look at the pros and cons of brand bidding and whether or not it’s a strategy you should be exploring.


The Pros of Brand Bidding

Starting on a more positive note, let’s look at the pros first. Why is brand bidding worth it?


1) Complete Control

Paid ads are almost instant, which allows you to be more reactive than you would be with other campaigns.

With brand bidding, you can control the ad copy better than you can control the organic listing. You can take advantage of ad titles, descriptions, and extensions by using creative ad copy. This means you can fully control the message for your prospects, without the worry of your voice getting lost.

Brand bidding can also be used to highlight offers whilst showcasing some creativity.


Whilst you control the ad real estate, you can change your ad messages regularly. This allows you to keep up with recent events, trends, and news to shake up your copy.

brand bidding example


2) Stop Your Competitors From Robbing Your Prospects

What happens when your competitor begins bidding on your terms and forces your hand?

What does that mean? Well, your hand is forced every now and then if you’re in a situation where you aren’t appearing first organically, or worse, a competitor is showing above you.

Make a start by checking if someone is bidding on your brand name. The last thing you want is for potential customers’ eyes to wander elsewhere.

Many agencies and brands have taken to bidding on their competitor brands, essentially taking your prospects away from you, to push you out.


brand vs brand


By bidding on your own brand, you can prevent your competitors from stealing your prospects. If competitors are bidding on your branded terms or name, you can raise their costs simply by bidding on your own name.

Typically, your own ads should get the better position for your brand name as it will have a better Quality Score. As a result, from these changes you could see your competitor’s ad position decline, reduce their traffic, lower their conversion rate, and increase their CPA.

A word of caution though, it’s always best to avoid potential bidding wars – the only person who benefits from this is Google!


3) It’s Pretty Cost-Effective

Brand bidding can also be a more cost-effective alternative to other types of ads – branded keywords tend to be cheaper with less competition.

Quality Score also plays a massive part in keeping costs down as you’ll have the advantage of having a highly relevant landing page, and typically this is your own site. With better Quality Scores come higher CTRs and ad relevance, keeping your bid costs low.


The Unfortunate Cons of Brand Bidding

There is only one main issue when it comes to brand bidding and that is you may end up paying for traffic that you would have acquired regardless. If your SEO campaigns are performing well, you should ideally be within the top spots organically. There is the risk that you could be paying for clicks that people may have already clicked on if they saw an organic listing.

But is it worth taking a chance?


1) Attribution

When it comes to multi-step conversions, a question to ask yourself is, are the branded bids leading to people converting later down the line on non-brand searches, or is it the other way round?

If it’s the former, then brand may be more useful as it’s likely acting as a lynchpin from people becoming aware of the brand elsewhere, and then using the brand interaction to research exactly what they want before coming back later.

If it’s the latter, you’d probably have got that traffic from organic anyway.


2) Don’t Fill Google’s Pockets Through Bidding Wars

A lot of people get into bidding wars against their competitors, where both bid on the other’s brand name, forcing each to put up their defences. The only one winner here is Google.


3) Is It Really Needed?

As we mentioned earlier, if you already appear number one organically and there are no competitor ads, then it’s fine to not have to bid on brand for search.


Where To Go From Here?

One of the best ways to judge if brand bidding is worthwhile is to link up Google Search Console to Google Ads to leverage the Paid vs Organic report. This gives an idea of how performance differs when there is organic only, paid only, or both.

It may be that the situation is different for these and while bidding on pure brand makes no sense, it could for these terms.

Finally, if you do choose to bid on brand after weighing up all these considerations, we recommend keeping reports separate from one another, this way you can get reliable data for your branded and non-branded reports and are left with skewed results.


Need help with PPC?

If you need any advice on your PPC strategy and are looking for a comprehensive PPC audit, get in touch and our army of PPC experts will be able to help you strategise and make sense of brand bidding.

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