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!