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PPC brand bidding and how to defend against competitors

July 14, 2016

Richard Halling
Rich manages the paid search advertising department at Candidsky, with over 7 years of hands on industry experience, managing campaigns for established household brands.

“Why should I pay to bid on my brand with PPC?”

A question we get asked all the time. If you appear on the first page / first position in the SERPs why should you pay? Well, there’s a significant number of benefits for using brand bidding with PPC:

  1. It’s cheap! It does not cost the earth to maintain first position for brand keywords
  2. It looks good when your brand dominates page real estate. Plus, 2 results are better than 1, right?
  3. Increase in overall account CTR, which impacts your quality scores and overall lowers the cost per click
  4. Testing: If you want to split test landing pages or persuasive messaging, you can set up and run them quickly and accurately using a branded PPC approach
  5. Insights into search queries – you will find out what keywords users are associating with your brand
  6. Increase clicks by controlling more page equity
  7. Defend against losing out on clicks to your competitors
  8. Promote offers and promotions

A Bing Travel Industry study of brand PPC keywords

A study by Bing analyzed 400,000 impressions for a large travel company, measuring when a brand ad was not present and when it was present and how it impacted organic results:

Naturally you would lose some organic clicks but the gains outweigh the loses. The study resulted in 27% incremental clicks with the brand ad running. Not to mention reducing your competitors clicks, who received 40% of clicks when the ad was not present and only 12% when it was.

If you dominate the results page the chances of getting clicks are far greater due to your campaign having additional page equity. It became even more important to dominate a page when Google introduced their results section ‘people also searched for’ which gave users more options to navigate away from your brand.

CandidSky Travel Industry example

As you can see below, we maintain an excellent presence for one of our partners NST by coupling great organic positioning with paid brand keywords – removing all other distractions so the users highly targetted brand search results in a click through for NST and not a competitor.

Nst page equity

How people search for brands

People tend to search in one of two ways; either with an exact match of your brand name or a modified variation. Continuing our NST example, people search for “NST” (brand) or “NST school trips” (modified variation). Users will often associate the product or service with the brand. In this common scenario, competitors will also be bidding on the keyword “school trips”, the image below shows that there are 3 other competitors appearing for the keyword search “nst school trips”.

Nst brand variation

How the percentages stack up

  • You have 50% chance of winning the click (paid + organic), leaving a 50% chance you won’t…
  • If we remove the brand variant from PPC, someone else will fill the sponsored result spot leaving you with a 33% chance of winning the click through the organic & map listings

The CPC difference in the above example is also quite staggering; with the modified brand variation the CPC is 86% cheaper than the keyword “school trips”! So to increase your chances of winning clicks it’s worth paying for those low-cost brand keywords.

Final thought

Brand campaigns won’t break the bank, with CPCs as low as £0.5p you can greatly increase traffic and conversions whilst gaining insights into how users search for your brand. Also, having the option to quickly test new landing pages or messaging adds additional benefits to customer learning. Finally, your AdWords account will benefit from booming click through rates – lowering your overall costs.

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