Imagine this: a potential customer, eager to discover more about your business, types your company name into the search bar. However, to your surprise, a competitor’s ad ranks first, stealing the spotlight. The question comes naturally: should you engage in a bidding war to reclaim that top spot, or is there a more strategic approach to protect your brand online?

In the complex landscape of digital marketing, such dilemmas are not uncommon. It’s in this arena that the debate over brand bidding unfolds – a battleground where businesses must decide whether to bid on their own brand terms or let competitors dominate the search results.

In this article, we’ll be your guide, laying out the pros and cons of this SEO strategy. By the end you’ll be able to make an informed decision – one that aligns with your business goals and allows you to maximise online visibility.

Understanding brand bidding

To comprehend the intricacies of brand bidding, one must first recognise the evolving nature of Google text ads. With up to 270 characters – nearly triple the space of standard text ads from 2000 to 2016 – and the addition of various ad extensions, advertisers now have the opportunity to make a more significant impact on their audience. This expanded character limit has allowed businesses to craft more detailed and compelling ad copy, providing users with a richer understanding of their offerings.

Google’s policy also adds an interesting layer to the brand bidding landscape. According to Google, competitors are free to use trademarked terms in their own keyword lists, leading to a dynamic where brands must strategically navigate the use of their own intellectual property by competitors.

These changes in ad format and Google’s policy contribute to a competitive environment where up to four ads can prominently feature atop search results. This increased real estate allows brands to enhance their visibility and engagement, but it also intensifies the competition for user attention. Advertisers must carefully consider how they approach brand bidding to stand out in this crowded space while maintaining control over their brand narrative.

The interplay of these factors underscores the importance of a nuanced approach to brand bidding, one that takes into account the evolving advertising landscape and the intricacies of intellectual property in online marketing.

The case for brand bidding

Proponents of brand bidding put forward compelling arguments, supported by studies that highlight the tangible benefits of engaging in this strategic practice.

Research suggests that brand bidding campaigns can yield substantial incremental traffic. Studies indicate that as much as 89% of paid traffic is incremental, meaning it is not simply replaced by organic traffic when campaigns are paused. This data underscores the unique value that brand bidding can bring to a digital marketing strategy.

Furthermore, the competitive landscape for branded search clicks reveals intriguing insights. When a brand opts not to run an ad, competing ads can capture a substantial 40% of the clicks for branded searches. However, this number drops significantly to 11% when a branded ad is actively displayed. This dynamic highlights the effectiveness of maintaining an active brand bidding strategy in securing a significant share of user attention.

Additionally, brand keywords often boast high Quality Scores and low CPCs (Cost-Per-Click). This combination is a recipe for success, driving strong returns for businesses engaging in brand bidding. The high Quality Scores indicate a strong alignment between the ad content, keywords and user experience, contributing to lower CPCs and consequently a more cost-effective advertising strategy.

As businesses weigh the decision to invest in brand bidding, these statistics provide a compelling case for its potential to not only capture incremental traffic but also to do so in a cost-effective manner. The ability to secure a substantial share of branded search clicks and leverage favourable Quality Scores positions brand bidding as a strategic avenue for maximising online visibility and returns.

At Astrid IQ, our team can craft personalised strategies to maximise your brand’s impact in the complex world of digital ads.

For more information, see our SEO Consultancy Services, or simply call us between 9am and 5pm on 07976 642348 or email seo@astridiq.co.uk

The case against brand bidding

Despite the apparent advantages, critics of brand bidding raise valid concerns, challenging the perceived wins and advocating for a more cautious approach.

One argument against brand bidding is rooted in the notion that perceived successes may be illusory, driven by selection bias. Critics contend that branded ads might not initiate consideration but instead take credit for existing interest. This perspective calls into question the true value of brand bidding in terms of driving new user engagement, emphasising the need for a nuanced interpretation of campaign performance.

Another contentious point revolves around the fairness of Google Ads. Detractors argue that companies should not have to pay to appear above competitors for their own terms. The competitive nature of brand bidding can lead to a perception that Google Ads operates as a ‘shakedown’, prompting businesses to question the ethics of paying for visibility on terms closely tied to their brand identity.

A significant concern raised by anti-brand bidders is the idea of cannibalisation. Advertisers have already invested budget and resources in creating brand awareness through organic methods. Paying for brand clicks that could potentially have been won organically is seen as not only an additional cost but also a form of cannibalisation, particularly as brand CPCs are forecast to rise throughout 2024.

As businesses weigh the benefits of brand bidding, these counter arguments underscore the need for a cautious and strategic approach. The potential illusion of success, ethical considerations regarding paid visibility and the risk of cannibalisation all warrant careful evaluation when deciding on the role of brand bidding in a digital marketing strategy.

The middle ground: best practices for brand bidding

Navigating the brand bidding landscape requires a balanced approach that integrates the advantages and addresses the concerns raised by both proponents and critics. Here, we delve into best practices to help businesses optimise their brand bidding campaigns effectively.

To begin, strategic keyword selection plays a pivotal role. Leveraging Google’s policy that allows competitors to use trademarked terms, businesses need to carefully curate their keyword lists. This involves not only bidding on their brand terms but also identifying variations and long-tail keywords that can enhance the reach of their brand bidding strategy.

Ad extensions, another critical element, offer an opportunity to provide users with more information about the brand. With the expanded character limit in Google text ads, businesses can craft compelling ad copy and incorporate extensions like site link extensions, callout extensions and structured snippet extensions. These extensions not only enhance the visibility of the ad but also contribute to a more informative and engaging user experience.

Quality Score, as mentioned earlier, plays a significant role in the success of brand bidding campaigns. Businesses should prioritise maintaining high Quality Scores by ensuring relevance between ad content, keywords and landing pages. This not only contributes to a better user experience but also positively influences CPCs, making the overall campaign more cost-effective.

Additionally, understanding industry-specific nuances is crucial. Each industry may experience different outcomes with brand bidding, and tailoring strategies to align with industry trends and consumer behaviour is essential for success.

In adopting these best practices, businesses can strike a balance in their brand bidding strategy, leveraging the advantages while mitigating potential drawbacks. By incorporating strategic keyword selection, optimising ad extensions and prioritising Quality Score, businesses can enhance the overall effectiveness of their brand bidding campaigns.

Navigating ethical considerations in brand bidding? At Astrid IQ, we provide personalised guidance to ensure your brand strategy aligns with your values.

For more information, see our SEO Consultancy Services, or simply call us between 9am and 5pm on 07976 642348 or email seo@astridiq.co.uk

Measuring success: metrics to consider

Determining the success of brand bidding campaigns involves a thorough analysis of key performance indicators (KPIs). Businesses must monitor these metrics to gauge the effectiveness of their strategy and make data-driven decisions for continuous improvement.

Click-Through Rates (CTRs)

One crucial metric to assess the performance of brand bidding campaigns is the click-through rate (CTR). Studies indicate that brand keywords tend to have high CTRs, reflecting the active interest of users searching specifically for a particular brand. Monitoring CTRs allows businesses to understand how well their ads resonate with the target audience and whether they are successfully capturing user attention.

Conversion rates

Beyond attracting clicks, the ultimate goal of any advertising campaign is to drive conversions. Brand bidding, with its focus on users actively seeking a particular brand, often yields higher conversion rates. Monitoring conversion rates provides insights into how well the campaign is translating user interest into tangible business outcomes. It’s a key metric for assessing the impact of brand bidding on the bottom line.

Impact on organic search traffic

Concerns about cannibalisation underscore the importance of evaluating the impact of brand bidding on organic search traffic. Businesses should analyse whether brand bidding campaigns complement organic efforts or potentially lead to a shift in user behaviour. Understanding the relationship between paid and organic search traffic helps businesses make informed decisions about the allocation of resources and budget.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

Cost considerations are integral to any advertising strategy. Monitoring the cost-per-click (CPC) for brand-related keywords provides insights into the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the campaign. High Quality Scores and low CPCs, as observed in brand bidding campaigns, contribute to a more favourable return on investment.

In leveraging these metrics, businesses can gain a comprehensive understanding of the success and efficiency of their brand bidding campaigns. Click-through rates, conversion rates, the impact on organic search traffic and cost-per-click all contribute to a holistic assessment of the campaign’s performance, guiding businesses in refining their strategies for optimal results.

Success is a science, and Astrid IQ is your lab partner. From boosting click-through rates to decoding the impact on organic traffic, our data-driven approach ensures your brand bidding campaigns thrive in the digital arena. Partner with Astrid IQ today to measure success effectively.

For more information, see our SEO Consultancy Services, or simply call us between 9am and 5pm on 07976 642348 or email seo@astridiq.co.uk.