Do you bid on your Competitors' brand names in Google?

We often get asked whether it is a good idea to bid on competitor’s brands or products. We are challenged to think of smarter ways of getting ahead of competitors with well-established brands, with double or triple the marketing budgets, or even worse; a product that is more popular than ours.  PPC competitor bidding gives the advertiser the chance to springboard off the demand for their competitors’ products and potentially convert their customers.  This is something that is nearly impossible to achieve via organic search (SEO), but is it the right thing to do for your business?

We have recently seen some incredible results when bidding on competitor’s keywords across sectors such as; entertainment, retail, training, real estate and insurance.  So much so, that we recommend having this discussion with Digital Willow, (if not starting action) for any underdog looking for aggressive client acquisition.

Yet aggressive the strategy must be…  Competitive AdWords bidding will need to be higher than your normal search campaign, resulting in more expensive cost per clicks.  Furthermore, the quality score will be lower and the keywords will need extra attention as they will fluctuate at the whim of the marketplace.  Finally, you risk aggravating your competitors, causing retaliation and creating a bidding war.  But be warned, they may already be bidding on your brand!  It could just be a matter of time before they are bidding on you.

So what to do?

With limited budgets we would always suggest starting with the low hanging fruit; consider how your marketing money is best spent.  To do this you must understand the volume of searches in your industry and have data to suggest that the 'easily converted' customers are being mopped up by your search marketing.  If your budget doesn’t even stretch that far, then competitive bidding probably isn’t for you.  

If you have decided to give it a try, there are many tactics to consider.  Some of our favourites are:

  • Switching competitor bidding on and off at opportune times
  • Creating a separate campaign just for competitor bidding so that your other campaigns are not negatively affected by the quality score
  • Avoid using your competitors name within your ad copy; this way, you are not only preventing Google disapproving your ads but also avoiding breaking some trademark rules.

This infographic shows some further effective ways in which businesses can bid on competitor brand keywords: