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  • What is Brand Bidding? This Proves You Should Bid on your Brand Name

What is Brand Bidding? This Proves You Should Bid on your Brand Name

what is brand bidding

What is Brand Bidding?

“Brand Bidding” refers to using your own brand name as a keyword in Google Ads. This strategy involves targeting search terms that include your brand names, product names, or other trademarked terms. The primary goal of brand bidding is to capture high-intent traffic from users who are already familiar with your brand, while also protecting your brand against competitors who may want to capitalize on your brand equity.

Brand bidding is one of the most debated topics among marketers and business owners. Even though Google Ads has been around for over 20 years, there is still debate about the pros and cons of brand bidding. We’ll consider when you should or should not bid on your own brand keywords, review real-world examples, and answer the question:

Should I bid on my brand name in Google Ads?

5 Advantages to bidding on your own brand name

Deciding to bid on your own brand name in Google Ads is a strategic decision that has significant implications for both your budget and your brand’s visibility online. First, let’s look at a few situations where you brand bidding makes sense:

1. Maximizing Control Over Search Results

One of the main reasons to bid on your own brand name is to maintain control over what users see when they search for your brand. This allows you to tailor their experience vs relying on the organic search engine result. By bidding on your brand, you can:

  • Direct Users to Specific Pages: Customize the user journey by directing them to the most relevant page, whether it’s a new product launch, a landing page optimized for conversions/sales, or to a specific area of your site like a customer service portal.
  • Tailor Messages Based on User Intent: Different ads can be served based on what aspect of your brand users are searching for, such as parts of your business, reviews, or locations.
  • Adjust Messaging in Real-Time: Quickly adapt your messaging to include seasonal offerings or time-sensitive marketing campaigns without waiting for SEO to catch up.

Below is a great example from the mattress and bedding company, Casper:

Instead of relying on its organic listings, Casper uses tailored messaging in the ad: “Gift Yourself With Great Sleep”. They also highlight promotions (25% off mattress bundles) and differentiators (100 night risk-free trial). As a final plus, the ad serves in the top position and pushes competitor ads down.

2. Defend Against Competitors

If competitors are bidding on your brand name, they can potentially steal traffic that was likely intended for your site. In this case, brand bidding becomes a defensive strategy to:

  • Protect Brand Territory: Ensure that when users search for your brand, they find you first, not a competitor.
  • Counteract Misleading Information: Prevent competitors from disseminating misleading or comparative information that could sway customers away from your offerings.

Let’s look at another example: I’m searching for a new CRM for my business, and have heard that Salesforce has a good solution. I search for “Salesforce CRM”, and am served this page:

I arrive on this page, and instead of seeing Salesforce front and center, I immediately see three different brands with compelling messages: “See why we are better”, “Budget-Friendly CRM Tool”. Although Salesforce shows up eventually, it is at the bottom of the page, and it’s tough to dismiss the impact on perception of the “other” brands.

Learn more: Here’s How To Stop Competitors From Clicking Your Ads

3. Increase Your Visibility in a Crowded Market

In highly competitive industries, sometimes it’s difficult to simply be visible at the top of search results. Bidding on your own brand name keeps you at the top of user’s search results. This is particularly important when there is:

  • High Market Saturation: In crowded markets, you need to make sure your brand remains top of mind and easy to find.
  • Brand Similarities: If your brand name is generic or similar to others in your industry, brand bidding can help distinguish your brand in search results.

4. Targeting High Conversion Opportunities

Brand keywords typically convert at a higher rate because they capture users with existing knowledge of and interest in your brand. Bidding on your own brand can optimize marketing spend by:

  • Capturing High-Intent Traffic: Users searching for your brand are more likely to be further along in the buying process, making them more valuable prospects.
  • Improving Cost-Effectiveness: While brand terms often have lower CPCs, their conversion rates can justify the expenditure, delivering better ROI compared to non-branded terms.

5. Leveraging Learnings From Brand Bidding

Bidding on your own brand provides valuable data that can be used to refine your marketing strategies across all channels. This data allows you to:

  • Test Marketing Messages: Experiment with different calls to action, offers, landing pages, and messages to see what resonates best with your audience.
  • Understand User Behavior: Analyze how users interact with your ads and your website, providing insights into their preferences and behaviors.

When Should You Not Bid on Your Own Brand Name?

While bidding on your own brand name in Google Ads can offer numerous advantages, there are times where the strategy might not be the most efficient use of resources. Understanding these scenarios can help you optimize your advertising spend and focus on tactics that deliver the best return on investment. Below are a few situations where you might consider not bidding on your own brand name.

1. Dominant Organic Search Presence

If your brand has a well-established organic presence and has 100% ownership of search engine results pages (SERPs) for your brand keywords, it may not be necessary to bid on your branded keywords. This is particularly relevant if:

  • High Brand Authority: Your brand is well-recognized, and your website has strong authority and dominant position in organic rankings. If users searching for your brand are almost certain to find you at the top of organic search results, the incremental benefit of paid ads may be minimal (more on this later).
  • No Competition: There is little to no competition for your brand terms, either from competitors or from ads, making it unlikely that users will be diverted away from your organic listings.

2. Budget Constraints

If your business has a very limited budget for marketing and are focusing on driving new business, prioritizing where you spend becomes essential. In this case, you may want to:

  • Evaluate Cost vs. Benefit: If analysis shows that paid clicks are largely cannibalizing organic traffic rather than providing additional value, reallocating budget to other marketing efforts might yield a better overall return.
  • Allocate Budget to Higher-Value Keywords: It might be more beneficial to allocate budget towards other channels, or non-branded keywords that could drive higher incremental traffic and conversions.

3. Low Market Saturation or No Competition

In situations where your market presence is uncontested and your brand awareness is extremely high, brand bidding might yield diminishing returns:

  • Well-Established Market Leaders: For brands that are household names with little fear of brand confusion or hijacking, you may not need to bid on brand keywords.
  • Unique Brand Names: If your brand name is unique and unlikely to be confused with common terms or other brands, the likelihood of needing paid ads to reinforce your brand or increase visibility is low.

4. Negative ROI from Brand Bidding

Similar to the budget constraints point, if your data shows that brand bidding is not delivering a positive return on investment, it may be time to reassess the strategy:

  • Analyze Conversion Attribution: Make sure that the conversions from brand bidding are incremental and not just shifted from organic results.
  • Cost-effectiveness: If the costs associated with brand bidding outweigh the benefits in terms of additional revenue or strategic value, it may not be justifiable.

Case Study: Brand Bidding Test

Now that we have reviewed the reasons why you should or shouldn’t bid on your brand, let’s look at some real-world data!

We found a great study by Closed Loop, a digital marketing agency, to test if running paid search ads off of brand terms was cost-effective.

They ran a test to see the difference in traffic and purchases when bidding on brand terms (organic + paid) versus running organic search alone.

Note: the brand in this test had no competitors present on their search results, so this allows for much cleaner test results than if the brand had competitor ads showing.

Here are the results:

The results here are pretty clear – this brand saw a benefit and significant lift in all metrics when running paid brand campaigns with their organic search results. The combined paid and organic traffic increased by 39%, with 75% more signups and 104% more purchases!

TL;DR - So what's the verdict?

In most cases, running paid ads on your brand gives you better ad performance than if you just rely on organic traffic. 

With paid ads, you increase visibility and coverage at the top of your search results (more digital real estate), can tailor your messaging, and defend against competitors, making it a very good option and tool in your marketing toolbox.

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