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Pay-Per-Click Brand Advertising – To Bid Or Not To Bid?

One question seems to pops up again and again when talking to our PPC clients or prospects: should they be bidding on their own brand terms or not? So, I...

One question seems to pops up again and again when talking to our PPC clients or prospects: should they be bidding on their own brand terms or not?

So, I thought I’d help clarify a few of the key points which we often respond with to ensure they get the best possible outcomes for their business from pay-per-click advertising.

Brand protection

PPC is extremely competitive and with Google now allowing brands to bid on each other’s terms, it’s vital that companies protect their presence as much as possible.

For example, you might have decided not to bid on your brand terms, but a competitor has, and they end up appearing above your own paid or organic listing on the search engine results page (SERP). The impact of this could be that your prospect ends up clicking on your competitor’s ad and converting rather than through your organic listing. You’ll be missing a potentially valuable sale.

SERP ownership

When a user searches for your brand, the ideal situation would be for your brand to ‘own’ the SERP in organic and paid areas. Owning the SERP means your presence dominates the results. This could be through your landing pages, videos, blog items, news releases, PR, images, social media posts and paid positions.

In reality, this perfect scenario is unlikely to occur, however, your search agency should be doing as much as possible with you to ensure your business has the best possible chance of owning as much of this space as possible.

Alternative information

Brands that are successfully bidding on their own terms tend to clearly differentiate the information being provided on their organic and paid listings. While organic meta descriptions tend to be slightly more static, PPC offers a fantastic opportunity to push promotions, offers or any other information you want searchers to be made aware of.

For example, search for the term “Virgin holidays” and you’ll notice the organic meta description contains the usual copy needed to target that search term effectively. However, for the same term, the paid result promotes a special May 25% off offer. This will help Virgin entice holidaymakers.


Some of the largest issues new or low awareness brands face online is trustworthiness; “is this company for real, or am I going to get ripped off?” This is especially applicable if you have a fairly new brand.

Paid search can help clarify this issue in a searcher’s mind. If you are a brand they are not familiar with and appear in the organic results, that’s great, but you can add to your legitimacy by appearing in the ad areas as well. This creates a link in the searcher’s mind. A company willing to advertise is much more likely to be legitimate than one that does not.

How much should I assign to my brand term campaigns?

This does vary from sector to sector. However, a responsible search agency should discuss the options available and how these will link up with your business/marketing objectives. On average we tend to spend around 10% of a PPC budget on brand terms. There are three reasons for this:

1. Brand terms should have extremely high quality scores

2. Bids on brand terms in most cases should have the lowest CPC

3. Targeting brand terms are useful (as mentioned above). However placing too much emphasis on brand terms can skew results and lower your % of new customers

How do you or your agency approach brand term bids? Do they purposefully use it to drive down your overall account CPA with excessive budget weight or is there a more strategic approach that you follow? Let us know in the comments or get in touch for more information.

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