Brand Aid covers the unique issues faced by search marketers responsible for campaigns featuring big or well-known brands. Columnists look at topics such as effective branding via search, trademark protection, “co-opitition” with affiliates, integrating search marketing with traditional brand marketing and more.

Couponing Websites For Competitive Branding Campaigns

Have you ever tried to use a PPC campaign to steal customers from your competitors and failed? If so, consider trying a campaign on Google's display network in conjunction with your search campaign. It might just deliver the results you’re looking for. After running a successful PPC campaign for some time, it can be difficult to gain additional traffic beyond your branded and non-branded industry terms. Often, the next step is to try to gain market share from your competitors. However, this can be tricky—and unfruitful—because consumers are actively looking for your competito [...]


Are Your Competitors Purposely Bidding On Your Brand?

If you have agreements with advertisers who sponsor your brand on paid search, it's important to monitor them to make sure they are using your brand or trademark terms according to your agreement. If they advertise using keywords containing no other words but your trademark or slogan, it's easy to recognize that as a violation. However, it is harder to glean the intention of the advertiser if your mark is paired with non-brand words or phrases. For example, if your brand is "Netflix," an ad triggered on a search for "Netflix" is an obvious violation, but an ad triggered on a search for "movi [...]


Is The Hispanic Market Right For Your Brand?

Did you know that the US is the world's second-largest Spanish-speaking country? It’s true. In fact, there are 46.3 million Hispanics in the US today, and 20 million of them use the internet. Are you targeting the Hispanic market with search? If not, perhaps it’s time you considered doing so. Understanding the opportunity Clearly, the US is undergoing a dramatic shift in demographics. Today, Hispanics represent the largest middle class group in the US, and over 88 percent have a household income of $50,000. Moreover, according to eMarketer, on average Hispanics spend more than 14 ho [...]


Watch Out For These Unsavory Affiliate Tactics

Many affiliates offer an honest additional marketing channel that is necessary for your marketing mix. However, there are affiliates who are looking for ways to beat your system, beat the search system and hide when you try to find them. Here are specific things you should watch out for: Direct linking. Direct linking in paid search is where the affiliate copies your ad copy, uses your display url, and then links the traffic through an affiliate URL directly to your website—in essence, hijacking your well thought out search strategy, bumping your own ads out of the listings, and [...]


How To Turn Your Social Media Averse Boss Into Your Champion

When an investment in social media marketing is considered by executives, it's common to hear objections like "prove to me we can make money" or "where’s the ROI?", regardless of whether the organization is an extremely large business or a mom and pop shop. Such classic concerns actually make a ton of sense. Social media certainly can be a double-edged sword. On one hand brands must consider the downside—that inviting users into the public corporate communications stream might mean dirty laundry is aired on the street. Among the upsides brands can enjoy increased visibility, bette [...]


Paid Search: Why Data Insights Matter

Cookie cutters are a great idea... for making cookies. But when it comes to marketing, a cookie cutter approach can do more damage than good. Unfortunately, many search marketers do exactly that when they treat their keywords, ad copy, landing pages and customers all the same. Following a cookie cutter approach with paid search is risky. Your customers know what they want, but it’s your job to convince them that you have it and that you really want their business. Treating everyone the same may result in missed opportunities to connect with potential new customers or retain existing ones. [...]


Brand Bidding Techniques: Smart Ways To Use Typos & URLs As Keywords

Finding the right mix of keywords is as much science as it is good common sense. When it comes to your brand, there are typo and URL derivation techniques that you should consider as part of your overall brand bidding strategy, even when the science (search volumes) appear too low to matter. Typos as keywords Most of our clients are well aware that using typo variations of their brand name as keywords is important, but, often typo use doesn’t go deep enough. Think about two types of keywords that include your brand: Stand-alone brands as keywords like "BarnesandNoble," "Wal [...]


Radical User Intelligence: Moving Past Keyword Research

Marketers have been advising strategy and tactics by "search" keyword research for well over a decade. We pretty much all know by now that keyword "inventory" has various tails including search frequency (number of searches), seasonality (when), cost-per-paid-click, CPM (cost per thousand impressions), SEO attainability, geo-location and user-intent (query objective). All these years later search seems only slightly less amazing. No matter what comes next, there will probably always be awesome power in search, targeting users’ questions by tailed keywords. That said, demographic research [...]


Paid Search: The Glue Between Offline & Online

While people use the internet for daily activities including reading news, doing research, communicating with others and shopping, many marketers still do not make paid search a priority when planning a new campaign. In fact, it is often implemented as an afterthought—a second level priority behind more traditional media such as TV and print. Rather than making it an integral part of initiatives starting with the planning phase, marketers find themselves wondering if they should run a paid search campaign to coincide with another effort. Unfortunately, this approach is a mistake as se [...]


Be Careful When Your Affiliates Practice Link Cloaking

If you run an affiliate program you may have noticed that some of your affiliates use a practice known as "link cloaking." Link cloaking is a method used to make a long affiliate URL link into a shorter and prettier one—often to the detriment of a brand. One of the most common forms of link cloaking occurs when an affiliate doesn't use its own URL at all, but rather just appropriates a brand's URL without any disclosure. Look at these two links: "http://affiliatename.hop.affiliateprogram.com""http://affiliateprogram.com/?clickid=abc1234567" Neither tells the consumer anything [...]


Branding, Direct Response, Intent & How Search Made Us Soft

The old has become new again. Back in the day, when setting budgets for mailing paper things in bulk to prospective customers, marketers asked themselves crucial questions. "Will the ROI of this direct response mail piece justify the investment of paper, printing, postage and fulfillment?" If not, "is the objective a more cosmic value, in other words, branding?" We knew when to sell with action calls and we knew how to brand. The search revolution has turned some of our brains to oatmeal by fostering unrealistic expectations for contextually targeted ad space. Traditionally "search" has wor [...]


5 Key Strategies To Build Your Brand Online

Direct response marketers are obsessed with generating leads and making the sale. So much so in fact that they often discount the value of investing in online branding. But even for marketers who live and die by their performance, neglecting to invest in brands is a mistake. Let’s take a look at why. Understanding the value Contrary to what some direct response marketers might think, investing in your brand online is not just about spending money on the brand. Instead, it’s about building an entity that will resonate with your customers and keep them coming back again and again&mdas [...]


A Novel Idea: Branding Your Search Ads With Your Brand Name

When a consumer does a search for your brand, shouldn’t you be branding? It may sound like an obvious question, but you might be surprised how many brand owners are squandering an incredibly valuable opportunity to connect with their customers. Wikipedia defines "brand" as a name, sign, symbol, slogan or anything that is used to identify and distinguish a specific product, service, or business. But a brand is much more than that. A brand is more aptly defined by its intangible qualities: a brand is a promise, a feeling, the total perception in your mind. And so it follows that brand [...]


PPC: Why You Need To Pay For Your Brand Terms

When it comes to developing an effective PPC strategy, it is important to include branded terms. However, many marketers are opposed to doing so. This is a mistake. Let’s take a look at why. Understanding the value In this economy where marketers need to do more with less, it is easy to understand why they might balk at the idea of incorporating branded terms into their PPC campaigns. Many marketers figure, "Why should I pay for my brand to show up in paid search when my organic listings will do the work for free?" Granted, their argument might appear valid—at least on the surf [...]


Protecting Yourself From Your Affiliates’ Bad Actions

Many search marketers work with affiliates but fail to ask the question: Can your affiliates’ bad actions cause you legal trouble? The answer is probably. Among other things, your affiliates might get you into trouble for bidding on competitors' brand name trademarks or making false offers, claims or endorsements without complying with FTC guidelines. Let's take a look at both of these scenarios in more detail. Bidding on competitor trademarks Trademark bidding is the act of bidding on paid search listings for keywords that contain a trademark. Trademark bidding on a competitor’s [...]


Fox In The Henhouse: How To Recruit Your Competitors’ Facebook Audience

Aggressive marketers have been infiltrating competitors’ camps since long before Odysseus sought covert entrance to Troy by way of the fabled Trojan horse. Search and social media marketing tools elevated competitive intelligence to the level of industrial espionage, in the hands of the unscrupulous. That said, somewhere to the left of that ethical line in the sand, there’s a suite of killer competitive tactics, fully defensible to even the most sensitive and principled brands and their attorneys. Of course, always consult with Facebook’s terms of service and your legal team to make [...]


Using Affiliates To Protect Your Brand With Paid Search

If brand advertising using paid search is hotly competitive for you, think about using your affiliates to help you win in the market. To determine if this strategy is right for you, evaluate the competitive landscape on your brand terms. A quick test: Do any of these statements apply to you? There are more than 3 advertisers sponsoring your brand terms or phrases on paid search. You are not always in the top ranking position in sponsored results on your brand terms or phrases. Your ROI is lower than you would like on your brand terms. Your CPC is higher than you would like on you [...]


Why Facebook PPC Is Crucial For Branding & How To Sell Your Boss

On Christmas Eve, December 24th, Facebook garnered 7.56% of United States internet traffic market share, whereas Google had 7.54%. Subsequently on Christmas Day, December 25th, Facebook’s piece of pie ballooned to a whopping 7.81% while Google dropped a bit to 7.51%. The day after Christmas, December 26, Google regained its stature as most visited site in the US with 7.33% share, while Facebook retained 7.12%. The ramifications of these stunning statistics, which truly reflect the massive girth of Facebook’s 350 million users, simply can’t be stressed enough to brand managers. To [...]


Online/Offline Integration: 5 Tips For Strengthening Your Brand Experience

With another holiday season behind us, retailers are busy crunching sales data to measure success and year over year revenue. However, this is also a good time to assess your company’s brand experience. And if yours needs improvement, integrating offline and online marketing can help. How integration strengthens your brand Integrating your offline and online marketing efforts can strengthen your brand experience by enabling you to be there when your customers are looking for you. In short, it helps your customers find what they need when they need it. This is key because when customers [...]


The 4 Most Siginficant Changes To Paid Search In 2009

I'm writing this on January 1, 2010, and I'm reminiscing about the changes to paid search that emerged in 2009 which will impact your brand and affect how you execute your brand strategies on paid search in 2010 and beyond. Here are the top four big changes, in my mind: Google changes its trademark policy On June 15, 2009, Google changed its trademark policy to make it easier for advertisers to use brand names in ad copy text. Prior to this change, Google restricted the use of brand names in ad text and was willing to take action to prevent it, allowing brand owners to authorize spec [...]


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