Should You Bid on Brand Terms in Google Ads?

Should advertisers use their own brand name as keywords in Google Ads search campaigns?

It’s a question you’ve probably either asked or had to answer, possibly many times…

Like most of the persistent questions in PPC,

it depends…

But there are some specific pros and cons to brand bidding in search campaigns. Understanding these will help you to assess whether brand keywords are worthwhile in a given situation or account.

This extract from my course (from lesson 3, on keywords) runs through those pros and cons…

Should you bid on brand keywords?

The most serious disadvantage of brand bidding, and the first point usually raised in discussions on it… paid traffic will ‘cannibalise’ organic brand traffic.

Your ads – at least on ‘pure’ brand terms – are likely to attract clicks from users who were heading your way regardless.

Why pay for what was already coming?

This is a strong point. A large proportion of paid brand traffic will come from a big, unnecessary bite out of organic traffic.

On the other side of the scales…

1. Those your brand clicks will be cheap. (more of a damage limitation than a real benefit, but worth remembering as you weigh up the other pros and cons…) High relevance, strong Quality Score and low competition on your own brand terms will ensure low CPCs

2. Paid brand activity will bring – at least – some genuinely incremental traffic. How much is open to debate.

Google periodically releases research showing a surprisingly high overall percentage increase from brand ads, versus organic alone. This research is often met with some scepticism… but exaggerated or not, there will be some uplift in traffic – and that incremental traffic will come from very high-value users… Users who have shown a high level of interest, but may have been poached by a competitor if you hadn’t made doubly sure of their visit with your brand bidding.

3. You can control and update the messaging shown to users who search for you, far better through your ads than you could with your organic results

4. Ads can show higher in the results pages, than the highest organic results. This is a particularly important point when competitors are showing ads against your brand terms. When they are, your own ads are your best defence, to ensure that your results are what users find first, when they search for you.

Based on these pros and cons (con…), I usually recommend brand bidding.

I often use brand keywords in accounts that I manage, though they are rarely the highest-priority keywords, and where budgets are limited, they may not make the cut.

If you do use them, it’s important to be clear that a conversion from brand keywords is not as meaningful as a conversion from non-brand… so that no-one misreads the attractive-looking CPAs that brand activity will generate.

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