Brand name bidding: should you buy ads for your brand terms?


Earlier today I wanted to visit Taskrabbit, so typed the brand name into Google to navigate my way to its website.

Here’s what was shown on the first results page…


Wow, Taskrabbit is so good they listed it twice!

Obviously the top listing is a paid search ad, although perhaps that’s not so obvious to the 40% of people who don’t know that these results are actually paid for. 

It begs the question: why do brands bid on their own brand terms? Is it a good idea, or a bad one? Aren’t you just paying for traffic that you’d otherwise get for free?

Personally, I’ve never really bought into the idea of doing this kind of thing, but there are some very good reasons for buying these kinds of paid search ads.

1. Boost your Quality Score

Jim is right. This is typically a really easy way of improving your quality score without breaking the bank.

Brand search campaigns are going to generate some of the highest quality scores you can attain, so if you do a lot of paid search and need to raise your average then this makes for an easy win.

2. Keeping competitors at bay

A defensive brand bidding policy is necessary when your pesky competitors play rough. I say fight fire with fire, and then some, but as a first port of call you need to protect your top position. Otherwise you’re going to leach traffic, especially from those people who don’t know that ads are in fact ads.

Bob makes another interesting point about rich snippets. Some search queries barely show any organic action above the fold these days, and you may need to pay something to pop your head above the parapet.

3. Traffic uplift

Jonathan suggests that it’s worth it as it affects CTR across the board. He reckons that it might not be much (“less than 5% uplift”) but if it works a little, it’s worth doing. Especially for brands with serious scale.

4. Hide something

Richard makes a great point: what if you wanted to push another result down the page? 

Let’s say you’ve had a bad time in the press recently, and one of the newspapers has a page indexed highly. In a few weeks that is likely to fade away, but the last thing an embattled retailer wants to see at this time of the year is negative PR placed prominently.

In such a situation, you could tactically bid on brand terms and create some paid sitelinks, to bury bad news well below the fold.

5. Persuasion 

Tim’s point gets to the heart of what makes a search result look trustworthy, and clickable, in the mind of the searcher. “This is the result you’re looking for.”

Right? Right. 


6. Choose your own sitelinks

You have some control over how organic sitelinks are displayed, but not full control over what Google chooses to show. 

If Google chooses to ignore one of your key pages, then replicating your organic listing in paid form allows you to determine your own sitelinks. 

7. Make sure of the sale

Brand terms won’t usually have tons of competition, so they’re going to be relatively cost effective, and the user intent will already be strong as they’re clearly brand-aware. 

Buying ads simply allows you to make it easy for someone to reach your site, and gives you an opportunity to make another sale. A small price to pay if you can entice that person to become a repeat customer.  

And finally…

I’m sure it wouldn’t have published this unless the results were positive, but Bing’s research suggests that there is much to be said for brand ads.

What do you think? Is this a tactic you use? Do you turn these ads on and off, or are they a permanent fixture? 


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