Brand Bidding The Smart Way

In our previous post, we have addressed the brand bidding issue that many advertisers face. Simply put – if you do not bid on your brand as a keyword and someone else is, then your competition will make business on your back. Now that you understand the urge of brand bidding, here is how you can do it the smart way. Read on…

After having read our previous post, you have finally made your decision – you will include your brand as a keyword in your paid campaigns. Well done! But at this stage, you might be wondering about the ins and outs of the campaign setup and mostly the dreaded cannibalisation effect – will you really pay for clicks you might have gotten for free anyway?

The cannibalisation effect that wasn’t

Bing Ads have been very transparent about data and numbers and published a very informative slide deck this May 2015 about brand bidding. The numbers are pretty eloquent.

Keep in mind that Bing being a Search Engine, they have full and complete access to all the data – notably the clicks on the Search Engine results page…

They analysed 400.000 impressions for travel on Bing in December 2014 and included the majority of the brand terms searched for in the travel vertical, comparing two distinct scenarios:

  1. When a brand term was not present on the Search Engine Results Page: the brand received 61% of clicks on the page, all from organic listings
  2. When a brand term was present on the Search Engine Results Page: the brand received 88% of clicks on the page, 43% from organic listings and 45% from paid ad

Yes – you would have gotten some of those clicks for free. There is an 18% overlap in this situation; but on the other hand, research shows you also received 27% incremental clicks!

If we look at the dataset from your competitors’ point of view, bidding on your brand terms only leaves 12% of the total clicks at their disposal. From a defensive strategy point of view, this really means that you are only leaving a few clicks to them – and they will have to pay a significant extra to enjoy top position, given their lower Quality Score… Which in turn could lead to them simply stopping bidding on your back, if not profitable anymore.

One important aspect is that those numbers are only valid for a brand occupying the top ad position. How can you make sure to be listed on top of the ad pack? Well, here are some…

Easy to implement tips on how to maximise brand bidding at your advantage

As you own that brand, there are a few elements that will help your ads stand out from the rest:

  • You need a dedicated brand campaign, under a separate budget. Use only a few keywords, preferably of the exact match type. Include your domain name as a keyword as well
  • Start by bidding low – you will benefit from a very high Quality Score when compared to your competition; given the high correlation between keyword, ad copy and landing page
  • Use your brand in your headline and copy. Those terms appear in bold font when someone is searching for your brand and make your ad more noticeable. If your domain name also revolves around your brand, you get an extra visible mention. Otherwise, use it in the display URL for that same effect
  • Make sure you highlight the fact that this is the official branded website. Your ad copy should mention terms like “official website”, “original” and so on. Try different ad copy for maximal efficiency
  • Google AdWords allows the use of a specific character in your headline – try TM to enhance the impact of your ad
  • Pick your landing page wisely. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid sending visitors to your homepage – even when bidding on your brand

Following and applying those easy steps will lead to maximal visibility when brand bidding.

And now – for the adventurous minds willing to get a bigger share of the pie

We have seen above that bidding on a competitor’s name could be quite expensive if they are already brand bidding themselves. Indeed, but this is only if you are solely using that brand name as a keyword.

When bidding on your competitor, you need to offer something different, mention the extra value you bring or get the fringe of customers they have not thought about – or are close to losing. Here are a few common examples…

Be obvious

Feel free to go over the top and blatantly add elements of positive constructivism in your copy. “Why not stay with us instead?”, “Still unsure about your next [product type]?”, “Did you know [your brand] is market leader” – or anything that will shake the room a bit and instil doubt and uncertainty.

Focus on Ad Extensions

This is a great way to make your offer stand out. List your main points, use numbers, grab attention. Anything that can make a searcher hesitate between the product he was looking for and yours is serving your final interests.


Those keywords, very close to your competitor’s brand, are extremely cheap and still possess some volume. Bid on “Comeptitor” for cheap clicks. Make sure to lead those clicks to a comparison page where you list the main advantages of your product or service.

Service cancellation

How about getting some clients ready to jump ship? Simply bid on “cancel competitor service name” with a great listing of your most recent offer and get ready for a sweet harvest!


When setting up a Paid Advertising Campaign, you simply have to focus on bidding on your brand as well. It will allow you to gain a significant advantage on your competition, grab incremental clicks at a lower cost per click and simply take away a larger share of the pie.

Should you need help or assistance with brand bidding or anything SEM related, feel free to get in touch. We would be more than happy to assist you in getting the most out of your paid efforts and attain your goals.

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