Should You Bid on Your Brand?

The range of keywords you can bid on in any Paid Search platform is near infinite. We all know about long tail queries, comparison terms, intent-driven keywords and the like – but if there is one question that needs resolving, it is the ever-ending ‘Should I bid on my brand?’ interrogation. In this 2 articles’ serie, we cover the current situation and provide you with a definitive solution! Read on…

This is one good question we get often asked – why should I bid on my brand anyway? I am already enjoying top organic rankings and, if people are looking for my brand, they will either go to my website directly or click on the first organic listing, right?

Well – it’s not that simple…

What can – and cannot – be done right now

Do you often Google your brand and wonder why on Earth are those competitor ads being displayed? Is Google going AWOL? Are they meant to be serving those ads? Is it accepted?

First of all, you have to know that anyone – yes, anyone – is allowed to bid on any keyword. Even if loosely related to their business. Even if it’s a registered brand. Even on your brand. What platforms such as Google do not usually allow though is to mention that brand keyword in the ad copy. It can however be used in the keyword list and lead to an ad of that same advertiser.

Here is Google’s stance on that matter:


You read it right – nothing will prevent an advertiser on bidding on a trademark term.

Please note that in certain countries (Ad campaigns targeting Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom or Ireland), the trademark term can be used in the ad copy, depending on the landing page, notably for resellers.

In short: competitors ads can appear when Googling your brand. Those ads cannot mention your brand in the ad copy.

What it means for the user

People use Search Engines because they have an issue (big or small) and are looking for a solution. They can be looking for a hotel room, have a blocked drain or need to buy a last minute Christmas gift.

When setting up a dedicated paid campaign, you look at the various stages of customer intent and craft your ads and keyword lists accordingly. You want to make sure your offer is visible to the most profitable audience, at the best of times.

Sometimes, people know about your brand. They have visited your website before, seen an ad on television, or a billboard when going to work. They might even have bought from you in the past and want to check your new products. The only thing they remember though is your brand name and they Google it. Do you want this click? Yes, absolutely. This is a pre-qualified lead; someone who knows about your company and is expressing interest in your offering.

You probably own the top position in Search Engines for your own brand (and if you don’t, talk to us – we can help) and imagine that this will do. However, between the search box and the organic listings, lies a very pale yellow box with ads. Those top of the page ads get clicks – lots of clicks. Users are in a hurry, they want an answer now. They will not scour the page for the best possible result; they will click, assess the landing page, and move on.

People have been accustomed to trust Google for its algorithm accuracy and results it delivers to their searches. First search results are meant to be the best ones, if Google lists them there!

Do you know that roughly 40% of all searchers have absolutely no idea that those top pale-yellow-box results are actual ads? In a study ran by Bunnyfoot in the UK, respondents were saying that those ads should be the best results “because they meet my search criteria” or because “they are the most searched I guess”.

What if the top of the page result, the very first listing, is an ad from your competition? Bidding on your brand? Getting that click?

‘Hold on! They know about my brand, they want to see my website. They will not click on a competitor’s ad. Not a chance!’ Well… Sorry to point the obvious but loyalty on the Internet is a very vague notion. Yes, this customer Googled your name. They want to buy a new set of blue widgets and have heard yours are top of the range. Then comes this ad at top of the Search Results page:

This sits above your organic listing – above anything else, in fact. And it’s getting hundreds of clicks. Lots of business. A decent share of your pie.


Even searchers knowing the difference between paid and organic results might click. Well – why not? This website seems to have what they are looking for. Why not having a look around? And if the landing page is well crafted, relevant and on par, they will not be looking anywhere else and finalise their purchase on your competitor’s website – on your back.


Brand bidding is quite a simple issue – everyone can bid on anyone’s brand. What it means for you is that you can lose a decent amount of business to your competition if they are bidding on your brand and you are not.

Now that we have set the scene, it’s time to plan and act on your tactic and implement brand bidding across your campaign. In our next post, we will look at the cannibalisation issue (how many clicks you could have gotten for free organically) and how you can implement a successful offensive/defensive brand bidding strategy.

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