5 Reasons to Start Bidding on Branded Terms (If You Aren’t Already)

By , Senior Digital Advisor at Hanapin Marketing


As we start to wrap up 2012, I wanted to take some time to publicly address a question and concern that popped up rather often this year: bidding on branded terms. I know there are believers that this strategy is a waste of marketing budget and I understand where they’re coming from. That said, I also feel like the data and research that has been published over the last year or so backs up the method of bidding on brand terms. That’s your territory! Claim it!

This isn’t just an argument of vanity, however. It’s about a lot more than that. So here’s my list of the 5 biggest reasons why 2013 is the right time to start bidding on your branded terms, if you aren’t already.

  1. If a searcher is typing in your branded terms, they’ve likely got some familiarity with your brand and are therefore closer to a sale/conversion. Whether they heard about you from word of mouth, or they’ve already been on your site shopping around, some of their questions have been answered and they’re further in to the buying cycle than someone searching for general product or service terms.
  2. You can double your visibility to searchers by showing up twice on one SERP. More than likely you’re getting the top organic result for your brand, but having a paid ad listing on the first page (and probably in the top few paid positions) reinforces your presence to the searcher. Amplify Interactive posted data back in January (chart below) that showed CTRs increasing by 5.1% when a brand has an organic and paid listing, as opposed to just an organic result. This strategy also doubles the likelihood of getting the click over competitors in case they’re bidding on your branded terms to try and ‘steal’ your traffic before the searcher reaches organic results. Which brings me to my next point…
  3. Your competition is and/or will be bidding on your branded terms, so you need to be prepared. While there are restrictions and policies on not allowing competitors to bid on your trademarked terms, there are ways around it and most advertisers have a campaign dedicated to the practice. You can call and report these competitors for bidding on your terms, but that can take more time than you might think and be a bigger hassle than just bidding on the terms yourself and doing a better job!
  4. Branded terms can help your overall account Quality Score. Due to the high relevancy of your branded terms to your ad copy, landing pages and whole website…your branded keywords are probably going to get the highest Quality Scores in your entire account (9’s and 10’s!). Simple math will tell you that adding terms with higher Quality Scores will bring up the average and offset some of your lower scored terms. The healthier an overall account score, the more likely it is that newly added terms could get some Quality Score bump right out of the gates.
  5. You can’t capture all searches/searchers organically, even with the top organic result. There are some searchers who prefer to click paid ads and some who prefer organic listings. The truth of it is, because quite a few paid ads come up above the organic results, traffic is received from paid ad results that is not replicated in organic traffic if paid ads are shut off, branded terms and campaigns included. Check out the infographic from Google on the subject, which shows that according to their research, around 85% of all click traffic is lost and not replaced by organic clicks.

Effects of pulling paid search ads

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Again, I’ll accept that there are marketers who feel differently about the subject of bidding on branded terms. They don’t want to cannibalize organic (free) clicks, they want to focus PPC spend on more competitive keywords, or various other reasons, but I’ll still stand by bidding on brand terms as a solid and competitive strategy for the all of my paid search days.

What are your thoughts? I know you’ve got some! Share with us in the comments section how you feel about bidding on branded terms, experiences you’ve had with the strategy, or questions you’ve got about the method!

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14 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Start Bidding on Branded Terms (If You Aren’t Already)

  1. Alex

    Thank you! You are absolutely right. Your advices fit around the world. For example, I work in Russian company and we use they.

  2. David Wolf

    Great post on the subject. I will be referring to you article anytime I have to deal with a client that feels the need to question why they have to spend .15c in what they think are unnecessary clicks on their own brand.

  3. Ryan Patrick

    Nice, if there’s no one else bidding on your brand term though I’d rather not bid either. Some people may be more inclined to click your ad vs your organic listing. while that’s great for CTR it’s no bueno for the budget. But, if there’s competitors going after your customers/prospects then yeah, you’ve got to get in the game.

    1. Kayla KurtzKayla Kurtz

      Hey, Ryan. Thanks for the comment and question! It’s all about ‘trademark’ when it comes to the legal side of it, and even that rule is fuzzy. You can most definitely get in to some grey area on the subject. Most instances I’ve heard of require the brand owner to let Google know they’re being infringed on, and in those cases you get a warning of sorts to stop before anything really bad happens. So you can get in trouble, yes…but you’ve also usually got some time to restrategize if the terms are truly trademarked. Hope that helps!

  4. Thomas Kane

    I read a report last year that showed the same
    statistics as well. I manage a massive army of ecommerce websites and this question always flows through my head. Good to know this is still a good practice. Good blog post Kayla

    1. Kayla KurtzKayla Kurtz

      Correct, Ben. The graph in bullet 2 is showing that there is an average 25.2% CTR on combined mediums when a brand shows up organically and in paid ads, but 20.1% when running organic listings only. Thanks for the question!

  5. Ben

    On #5, according to the article associated with that chart: What are these two bullets referring to?
    Increase search ad spend, from a zero base: 79% IAC
    Increase search ad spend, from a non-zero base: 78% IAC

    1. Kayla KurtzKayla Kurtz

      I believe these bullets are showing that when brands increased their paid search ad spend, from $0 and more than $0 respectively, those accounts received 78-79% increases in clicks. They don’t explain those bullets in the graph as they do the decrease bullets, so that’s what I’m assuming they mean. Hope that helps!

  6. captain_planet

    The Google study means nothing in regards to branded keywords, it was done on accounts stopping all PPC activity (not just brand keywords) so of course it will result in a big loss of traffic, if it was focused on brand it would be different, it would be nowhere near 89%.

    There is reason to bid on your brand if there are competitors bidding, you aren’t first in organic searches or first for mis-spellings etc but if you are first in the organic results with no bidding competition on your brand it is a complete waste of money.
    Google has done another study where it looks at keywords where you rank first
    (organically) but again not brand words, the figure was 50% instead of 89%
    (also it doesn’t mention what position your paid ad has to be). It should also be noted that this study is from Google, who make the vast majority of their income from PPC advertising so they have a monumental bias on this one 🙂


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