Should you be using Brand campaigns on AdWords?

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The question, “Why should we advertise on our own brand name on AdWords?”,  comes up quite frequently.

It is quite logical on the part of a business owner / manager to have an uneasy feeling when paying for clicks on their own brand name.  Hell, it gets even more difficult to digest when you rank at the top of the organic search results for these.

So then why do PPC experts recommend launching AdWords brand campaigns?

To understand this, you will need to know the factors leading to it.

1) Your competitors can advertise on your Brand name

It’s a common practice to bid on competitors’ brand terms. The theory is quite simple: Get in front of potential customers who are searching for products / services similar to yours.

This is a Very low-hanging fruit, and you can be sure that agencies / ppc experts are already advising your competitors to do it.  In fact, the benefits on this has been known and followed for much before the internet was even conceptualized.  You can see it in the offline world almost everyday.  You might even be aware of it yourself.

When strolling / driving across areas where most retail shops are, do you notice that stores for top designer brands are conveniently located in the same vicinity?  Salons? Eateries? Coffee Shops?  Well, they have been enjoying the benefits of competitor brand name targeting for many years.

One visit to the mall, and you will also see how most similar products/services are located in the same portion of the property.  Along with the customer’s convenience in mind, each business is also aware that it’s an opportunity to win business from each other.

A customer’s intent to buy a particular product/service, is in itself a big-enough factor that encourages your competitors to show their ads on your brand searches.

You can stop your competitor from having your brand as a part of their ad content, however; you are unable to stop them from showing ads on your brand searches.  This is a fact clearly mentioned by Google here:

To help illustrate, imagine you’re promoting ‘FreshDirect’ and ‘Hello Fresh’ is a possible competitor.  Now what would your reaction be, if people searching for ‘FreshDirect’ were to receive this as the search result:


Exactly!  In the above screenshot you can see that ‘Hello Fresh’ has an ad showing above ‘FreshDirect’,  YOUR Brand!

Luckily for ‘FreshDirect’ though, they have this covered, as the complete picture looks like this:

FreshDirect could be doing better with things like user ratings, but that’s another blog post.

Right now, as things stand.  They have their brand’s interest covered.

2) You have better control of your copy

It is a well known fact that organic search listings are open to changes and the listings content is not directly in our control.  Google has systems in place that modify the title, description, sitelinks etc. displayed in organic searches based on user intent and relevant content on the page listed in its Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP)

With paid search, it’s a totally different story.  You have much higher levels of control to display ads/creatives the way you want them to be.

Let’s evaluate ‘American Express’ AdWords brand campaign:

The ppc ad on top, with all the ad extensions and the content/copy in place, helps leads a user towards their intended action.  Even the sitelinks are placed to help guide users towards actionable landing pages / content.

Let’s take a look at the search results for ‘Ann Taylor’:

Ann Taylor’s currently offering 40% off and their PPC ad is making sure that users searching for their brand know of it. Having more control on the content of the ad, means any promotions & offers you currently run can be highlighted right away.  

Now imagine wanting to do the same thing with your organic SERP listing.  Having it display the ad description and discount/promotion is one challenge, making sure this is displayed right away, while the promotion is still running, is another major challenge because of the time it takes for these to get re-indexed

3) Take Advantage of More Real Estate on the SERP With the Same or Lower Cost

Click Thru Rates (CTR) are highest near the top, and you would definitely like to have more of this precious space.  Having your website listed multiple times at the top, leads to gains in CTR while also insuring that the top in-focus areas of SERP are dominated by your website for its Brand searches.

Let’s take the example of ‘Homelight’.  The first screenshot vs. second screenshot below should help see the difference between the amount of space received in SERP.

4) Drive Up Your Competitors Costs

One of our clients spends $30,000 just on their own brand terms in order to maximize their search impression share. We made the decision on which terms to let go of based on whether or not competitors were bidding on those terms.

Since most people are looking for your brand when specifically searching for your brand terms, you will most likely receive the lion share of the available clicks.

If competitors are bidding on those terms, it will lower their quality score and drive up their costs on bidding on your brand.



There can be several more factors that support the use of brand targeting in search ads like higher CTR, higher quality scores, higher conversion rates, higher ROI, etc.

Often times, the best method is to run a test of overall results with-brand vs without-brand periods. This should help arrive at a decision with measured results.

Need help deciding for your brand?  Feel free to reach out to the Growth Marketing team at 99Robots.  And while we are helping you evaluate, we will gladly do a Free (no obligations attached) Audit of your PPC campaigns for you and help improve results / save wasted ad spends.

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One Response

  1. On one hand I understand the need for branded campaigns, especially when you have competitors bidding on your own brand name. On the other hand by taking out all branded keywords from my campaigns and putting them together in a new branded campaign I am reducing the CTRs of my other campaigns, so my ads will have lower positions for non-branded keywords. Isn’t this a case of cannibalizing my own campaigns?

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