Interesting article over at Conversation Marketing about bidding on your own brand name. The post throws up some good arguments, but like all things in life one rule simple does not fit all. Aswell as reasons to bid on your own brand there are equally very good arguments against bidding on brand and it really depends on the business circumstances as to whether it makes sense for you.

When bidding on brand one thing you should always do is track brand performance separately from your non brand campaigns.

There are some agencies who will encourage you to bid against your brand and then proceed to lump it all into one to make the overall figures of your campaign appear far more successful than they actually are; effectively hiding the poorer performance of non brand campaigns.

Things to consider when bidding against your own brand -

1) Other Advertisers
2) Organic Placement
3) Brand Volume
4) Affiliates

1. Other Advertisers – Are there any other adverts displaying against your brand? If there are other advertisers appearing against your brand then I would advise to bid against your brand no matter where you are placed organically. This increases your exposure or shelf space so to speak. If you have a trademark, submit an application to Google to stop other advertisers appearing against your brand in the UK. For US advertisers this works a little differently, you can’t trademark protect keywords, only the use of your trademark within adtext. So those targetting the US will have to maintain a degree of vigilance in monitoring the SERPS if at the time of checking their were no other advertisers.

2. Organic Placement – Where are you placed organically? You should be in the very top position for your brand unless you have an extremely generic or competitive brand name (or a new site!). If you are not top then you should bid against your brand to avoid losing any visitors. If you are top organically and there are no advertisers bidding against your brand then it makes sense to save your money and not bid against your brand. You should however take into consideration point number 4.

3. Brand Volume – How much volume do you get to your brand?. If your brand volume is quite low then cost will be equally small. However, if you are a large brand, bare in mind that you could get a serious amount of your volume going through the PPC advert obviously at a cost. In theory the larger brands should be able to afford this, but it still might be better spent elsewhere.

4. Affiliates – You should have terms and conditions in place to limit affiliates from bidding against brand anyway, whether that’s paid or organically. Obviously if you don’t have affiliates this will not be a problem, but those that do need to consider affiliates because bidding against your own brand can act as protection, especially in the US where you cannot trademark the use of keywords.

Conclusion

In general if you have no other advertisers displaying adverts against your brand name and you are placed at the top organically, then you should not bid against brand. There is no need to pay extra when the difference in clicks from a top organic placement against aggregate clicks via an organic top placement with a PPC advert are generally fairly small. I have seen the research which shows increases, but I have also seen many instances where you are simply paying a cost with no extra benefit.

Although average CPC’s on branded keywords in these circumstances are also very small, if you are a large brand then actually this can equate to a significant amount of volume. Some brands can incurr costs into the thousands each month as an example.

Would this spend not be better funelled back into the paid or organic search campaign?. That said, you will need to monitor your brand within the SERPS, in terms of other advertisers and affiliates especially if you do not have a trademark or are based in the US.

A Happy Medium

There are mediums to be had when bidding on brand. If you are concerned that you are losing out on some misspellings of brand or long tail brand related queries then you can use embedded match to show for the queries you want to.

This allows you to bid broad on your core brand keyword(s) and negatively match out exact (or phrase) match keywords where you are sure you rank organically in top positions. So you can run search query reports (and use log data) to negatively match out further queries you identify where you rank in the top position and believe you would be incurring cost for no reason. Alternatively you could just bid using exact match where you believe you need to show your ad. The Adwords example from the help centre explains embedded match -

“Example: An advertiser selling Toy Story merchandise might use the embedded match option of a negative and exact match on -[Toy Story]. This way, the advertiser’s ads appear for Toy Story dolls and Toy Story products, but not for the exact match Toy Story.”

Still Not Sure?

Like I said at the start, one rule does not fit all. The best thing to do is test and see what works best for you.