5 Questions to Consider When Thinking About Bidding on Brand Terms

The practice of bidding on your own brand terms is a topic that has two divided camps among search marketers. Bidding on your brand terms can provide a lot of benefits – they tend to have a higher click-through rate (CTR), and they help promote your brand alongside the organic results. But bidding on your brand can be costly if you have a lot of competition that is bidding on those same terms. So is bidding on your brand always the best strategy?


Below are five key things to think about when determining your strategy for bidding on your brand terms, and some insights on each:

1. I have a strong brand presence organically; do I need to have my brand show in the paid results as well?

This is a very common question marketers ask -should I spend dollars on search when I am showing up in the top positions organically? If you have a strong dominant brand presence with little to no competition and a strong customer base, bidding on your brand isn’t necessarily going to provide a tremendous amount of benefit. This tends to be more the exception than the rule for most companies, however. Target, for example, does not bid on its brand term – because it doesn’t need to.

Most of us, however, are not Target. If your brand terms show up well in the organic results, bidding on your brand term can provide the “1-2” effect. Showing up in the paid and organic search results communicates to the potential customer that you are relevant. And helps your brand to “own” the search results page.

2. My competitors are bidding on my brand keywords.

This is a problem that many retailers face, and it can turn into a costly bidding war where you are fighting for every click, exhausting your budget, and wasting valuable time. Since you have no control over this, many companies feel they have no choice but to set aside budget and bid against the competition.

Here are some options to consider…

If you are running search on Bing, Bing’s new tool analyzes data to help you determine if bidding on your brand terms is cost-effective for you.

In AdWords, you can use Google Analytics to segment your brand keywords by channel. Determine the value of your traffic by both channel and keyword. Look to see if there are certain brand keywords that are performing better than others. You may find opportunity in bidding on certain terms as opposed to all of them. Tailor your ad copy to include those brand keywords, and ensure the landing page is targeted and relevant.

Bidding on brand terms just doesn’t mean bidding on your brand name. Include products, URLs, and phrases that include your brand name. These can be relatively inexpensive, and can give you good quality scores and click-through rates.

3. I have partners that bid on my brand keywords.

This can be challenging when you have partner sites that are also bidding on your brand terms – and you have a search results page that is a mix of both. While it’s important for everyone to share in the sandbox, it’s also important to create a strategy that everyone benefits from.

Partners can do geo-targeting that puts their message to their local area, which can target their customers. In turn, they are not paying the high costs to be bidding on a larger demographic.

4. We have no brand presence at all.

If you are a new business, odds are you are not going to show up in the organic results if someone searches for you. Bidding on your brand can help people find you. And if you incorporate site links into your brand ads, your ad will take up more real estate. Adding expanded site links also provides more information to your prospective clients about who you are and what you do. Being a brand-new website requires you to promote your brand – and paid search can help provide you with that visibility.

5. I show up in organic results, but not in the top five.

This is an opportunity to bid on brand terms to get visibility on the search results page. If you are not showing up high in the organic results, bidding on your brand terms allows you visibility. And if your organic results improve over time, you can revisit your strategy to determine if bidding on your brand is profitable for you.

Bidding or not bidding on brand terms is a strategy that needs to be well thought through – know who your competitors are, analyze your data to determine how your channels are performing, and know what your potential costs can be. Then determine if bidding on your brand is right for your business.

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