It is easy to bid against your competitors in the paid search auction. You can implement an automated bid strategy, like outrank or top of page. You can bid on competitor terms or target audiences that show an interest in your competitors’ brand. All can help to ensure that your brand is winning for the top spot against your competition. The difficult part of bidding and competing in market is when you are competing against yourself; when your account has multiple brands in the same auction, with similar goals, budgets, targets, and audiences. It is difficult because you want all brands to succeed and earn the top spot, meeting each individual brand’s lead goals. So how can you manipulate the auction to help each of your brands without being your own worst enemy? There are a few creative ways that I have found working in an account that manages multiple competing brands.

Priority Geo Markets

In the account that I worked in with multiple brands, a handful of brands (6) all targeted in Michigan. A few of the brands were statewide where others were just targeting a selection of counties within Michigan. There was a lot of overlap. At the start of our run time, we only had 1-3 brands running in Michigan, but as peak season hit, we continued to grow our brands within the state of Michigan, leaving us with 6 by the end. We had to figure out something to get leads in for all brands, rather than just the few that had higher budgets. For the brands that had overlapping counties or were targeting statewide, we asked the client to send us a list of priority markets. This was a list of all the counties within Michigan, each school that was targeting each county, and priority number.  So, for each brand, the client told us which Michigan county that brand would have priority (i.e. in Alpena Brand 3 had highest priority, Brand 1 had second priority, and Brand 2 had third priority).

Prioritizing by geo targeting and brand

From here, we created a formula that told us how much to increase our bids by in each county. This would mean that all our ads for each brand would show up in the county, but depending on the cost per click, the position would go to the brand with the highest priority, the second highest priority, etc.

Using a formula to determine bid increases

So, in Alpena county (where the arrow is pointing), for Brand 3 we raised our bids the highest of 20%, Brand 1 by 10%, and Brand 2 by nothing.

Geo Bids Based on Performance

In addition to modify bids based on the priority markets within a state, we asked the client to look at which counties/geos had the most leads/conversion come through. From there, we took those top counties and raised our bids up in those counties, knowing that they convert well.

Ad Copy Differentiators

An easy way to make your brands stand out from one another is to write your ad copy specific to each brand. In the account I worked in, there weren’t too many differentiators between brand, other than geos. We did the best we could to point out different things about each brand to make them stand apart, whether it was the age of the person the brand was targeting, an aspect of the brand we thought a certain type of person would be interested in, or the costs of the brands. Anything we could pull to manage multiple brands in the same markets would help.

Ad Scheduling

A more time consuming optimization we applied to this account with multiple brands was ad scheduling. We created a heat map (see below) showing the times of high traffic. From there, we created an ad schedule raising bids at high traffic times and lowering bids at low traffic times. This optimized what traffic we were getting for all the brands.

Ad scheduling heat map

Ad schedule for raising and lowering bids


It is not easy to manage multiple brands within an account. The client expects all brands to perform well, and may or may not understand how the brands are essentially competing with each other. It is important to consider all types of optimizations and use ones that will benefit your account the most. Keep in mind that layering on multiple layers of pulled levers can really make an impact on your account. With the multiple levers we pulled in this account, we saw traffic increase MoM, leads increase MoM, and we pushed spend to meet our spend goals. It is a delicate balance, but using a combination of multiple optimizations can help you manage multiple brands within the paid search auction.

Hanapin works with a number of clients that have multiple brands. Learn more about how we work and solve problems with these type of companies. Plus, you’ll find more resources like this blog post!