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The Benefits of Bidding on Branded Terms

There are few topics that have been met with more conversation than bidding on branded terms. With paid search evolving faster than ever with new ad formats, new targeting options, and increased competition, it’s vital to have a well-rounded account that supports customers through the entire sales funnel. Bidding on your branded terms might seem counterintuitive, but as the following top reasons illustrate, this strategy can not only act as a line of defense against your competition, but also increase performance of your overall account.
1. Stake your claim
Are competitors bidding on your brand name? If so, it is imperative that your brand is on the search engine result page (SERP) to claim your territory and deter any potential or existing customers from purchasing your products or services elsewhere.
If competitors aren’t bidding on your pure, exact brand, be sure to review the SERP when a qualifier is added before or after your brand name, e.g. “brand” + “product you sell”. These qualifiers open your branded SERP to competitors who may not be bidding on your brand, but are bidding on those non-branded terms.
2. Expand your real estate
Simply put, you want to dominate your branded SERP. Even if you’re already ranking on top organically, paid ads give your brand more exposure and opportunity for traffic, and it also take away ad space that could be used by a competitor who’s out to snatch up your customers. As shown below, is ranking first organically, but numerous competitors are bidding on their brand and using their unique value propositions to convince searchers to click their ads instead. Maintaining first position in the paid and organic listings while leveraging multiple ad extensions for a larger ad footprint provides their customers with more opportunities to locate their brand and reduces the noise from their competition.

Also, don’t forget about competition on the mobile branded SERP. With such limited space, and with traffic and ads growing larger and larger, there is no place but first place for a brand on a mobile device. See the example below – and check out those gorgeous price extensions that almost push the brand completely off the screen!

3. Control your message
Paid search is quick and nimble. New ads can be created and launched in mere moments. As such, branded PPC ads can be used to advertise the most current promotions, products and services through ad copy, sitelinks and other ad extensions. Conversely, organic listing’s meta descriptions typically anchor themselves in broader brand messaging. See the example below. The paid ad copy and extensions focus on the newest arrivals, timely product categories, and a special collaboration, while their organic listing delivers a more evergreen brand message accompanied with top-level product categories for sitelink extensions.

4. Reap the residual benefits
Branded terms are a triple threat. They have extremely low CPCs (cost-per-clicks), high quality scores and strong conversion rates. These factors create a ripple effect that can benefit your entire account.
You can’t get more relevant than bidding on your own branded terms. As a result, the search engines reward you with extremely low CPCs and high quality scores. These high quality scores raise the overall account quality score, which can result in better performance for less cost. Also, searchers using your brand name within their query are low in the sales funnel and ready to purchase, resulting in strong conversion rates. Couple that with low CPCs and you’ve got yourself a set of keywords with extremely high return. These higher returns not only increase your bottom line but provide the allowance to test new strategies more often, and longer, to find additional revenue streams for your account.
5. Increase your overall clicks
While all of the aforementioned benefits are a sampling of the positive uses and results of bidding on branded terms, there is a bit of an elephant still in the room. Many clients ask: why should we pay for branded clicks?
It’s an ongoing debate rooted in the suggestion that branded queries will be captured by the brand’s organic listings. While that is a fair and valid argument, studies conducted by major search networks (links below) show the combination of branded paid ads with organic listings provide an increase in overall clicks, than when a top organic listing is on its own. More importantly, it’s taking clicks away from the competition. Data also shows the number of clicks increase even without the presence of a competitor’s ad.

Source: Bing Ads internal data, Jan 2016
That’s not to say there isn’t any overlap or natural cannibalization. It’s the nature of the beast. But this occurs less often than you’d think. Bing provided data at the end of 2015 that shows only 11% of retail branded ad clicks and 18% of travel branded ad clicks would have gone to the brand’s organic listings. So the overall increase is a win-win for the entire brand.
There are clear benefits to bidding on branded terms that can help ward off competitors and increase overall account performance. The beauty of paid search is that everything is measureable. So while no strategy is a one-size-fits-all model, give it a try, measure your results, and develop a strategy that works for you and your brand’s goals.
For more information on this topic, check out:
Bing: Use Brand Term Bidding for an Effective Offensive and Defensive Strategy
Bing: The Science of Brand Bidding: Follow-Up and FAQs

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Thomas Clough, Paid Search Director

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