6 good reasons to bid on your brand name

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In a recent post we stressed the importance of keyword build-out. Here, we’ll make a case for including branded terms in your AdWords campaigns.

Most companies rank first on Google for their own brand name and slight derivations of it. So, it may seem counterintuitive to include your own brand name as a paid keyword in your AdWords campaigns.  After all, why would you want to pay for a visit that would likely come for free otherwise? In marketing jargon, this is referred to as cannibalization.

There are several good reasons to bid for your own name, many of which result in overall benefits that outweigh some inevitable cannibalization.

  1. You’re not #1 in the organic results. If you don’t rank #1 for your brand name, it’s a must to bid for it (at least until you can fix this urgent SEO problem). Otherwise, many of your potential customers doing navigational searches might loose confidence when they don’t find you at the top.
  2. It’s cheap.  Apart from a few unscrupulous competitors, you likely won’t face much competition for your own brand name. So, the incremental costs of adding brand terms to your campaigns will likely be far lower that your average cost-per-click.
  3. Brand reinforcement. Just as you would love to get the 2nd and 3rd organic listings as indented results underneath your top result, adding a sponsored link only increases your above-the-fold real estate, crowding competitors out. Consumers take notice of such brand repetition, if only subconsciously.   Google’s own eye-tracking studies make a strong case for this.
  4. Nasty competitors. If competitors bid for your brand, it’s hard not to respond and simply allow them to remain above your brand name on the most valuable screen of real estate on the web (and you should in turn be bidding on their name).
  5. Focused message and/or highlighted promotions. Ads allow you to highlight a promotion or draw a particular emphasis, regardless of the search term. Most often, your homepage will rank atop the organic results. But it’s page title (SERP title) and meta description (snippet of text) speaks to the brand’s most common denominators. You may be in need of responding to a particular PR issue. You may want to broadcast a seasonal sale or promotion that mirrors other online or offline campaigns. You may want to make an important company announcement. Whatever the case may be, this ad post will give you the opportunity to steer those navigational searchers–consumers who are already familiar with your name–towards the single thing that you want them to care about at that precise moment.
  6. Boost conversions and profits! The most counter-intuitive yet most rational reason. Often, conversion rates are higher from PPC because advertisers have more control over the ad message, landing page and conversion funnel. Combine that with the overall lift in clicks that you’ll receive (net of some cannibalization), and you might find that your branded ads increase your revenue and site profits. Avinash Kaushik drove home this point brilliantly at SES London in the following graph, which shows the impact to conversions of own-brand keyword bidding:

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