Some people call it “the Google tax” and accept it as just a part of online marketing you have to do. Others, rally against it and seek to eliminate all traces of Brand bidding from their PPC account. So, what’s the right way to treat brand terms?
As with most things, it depends. However, in this post, I hope to provide some basic approaches to give a greater perspective and help you decide on your strategy for brand bidding.
1. Brand Bidding is Not Just About Single Sales
There are many factors you must consider. For instance, your brand term may be the last part of a multi-stage purchase funnel. You might have invested substantially in brand awareness only for searchers to be lured away by competitor offers.
Therefore, whenever you appraise brand campaigns make sure you review attribution and multi-channel funnels as well. You can do this in Google Analytics. Also, for businesses running offline ATL campaigns, make sure you correlate visits and sales with your TV spots, locations and regions with respect to brand traffic.
2. Brand PPC Terms – Competitors
If competitors are bidding on your brand term they will appear above your organic search result. Especially on mobile devices where your organic listing will be pushed below the fold, this does two things.
a) Your competitors will get traffic from your brand term and capitalise on any ATL campaigns you have running. Most PPC teams keep an eye on TV ads and adjust competitor campaigns to suit. So, if you are running TV, expect a slew of competitors joining your brand auction.
b) Another layer of “research” will get presented to searchers and many who would directly click through to your site and buy will consider competitor options now. The purchase has either been extended or in the worst case lost.
All in all, remember that your brand in SERPs can be pushed well below the fold by aggressive competitors.
As you know, understanding your competitors is key to PPC success.
3. Retention versus Acquisition
Many new user/buyer acquisition focused companies lose sight of the importance of Brand terms when it comes to retention. In the vast majority of cases, PPC management sits with the new customer acquisition team. As a result, using Search Retargeting repeat customers can be excluded which results in many repeat customers seeing your ads on Brand.
This impacts retention because your competitors in a lot of cases are prepared to give better offers for new customers than you are to retain your current customers.
If you do not have a strong brand it is highly likely that a significant proportion of your customers will take advantage of any new customer offer your competitors are running on your band terms.
Your brand ads push competitors down the page and reduce the number of clicks to their site from the SERPs.
In the vast majority of cases, PPC requires multiple sales to work. A single transaction-focused approach to PPC is simply not viable in most auctions because competition has raised CPCs. Therefore most PPC campaigns are appraised against Customer Lifetime Value.
As a result, repeat sales through brand terms at lower CPCs or through organic search is essential as generic head terms are often too expensive to sustain repeat sales.
4. Brand PPC Terms and Customer Perceptions
Many direct-response focused marketers often discount the perception customers have when faced with brand SERPs.
This is important because your brand perception will be negatively impacted if competitor ads appear ahead of your listing. This results in three underappreciated issues:
a) Your conversion rate falls on brand visits
b) Your “path to conversion” is extended as competitor ads create an extra layer of research
c) People question why you are not paying to outrank competitors. In most cases, confidence in your brand is negatively impacted. Can they afford to do it.
As a result, a core component of your brand positioning as a market leader or a rising up and coming start-up will be lost.
In short, you should run ads on your brand if there are competitors. The only time I would advise not to do it is when you have no competitors and are ranking number one for organic search.
If you need help with your PPC let us know below.