• http://www.avalancheinternetmarketing.com dangerlarson

    Glad to have you writing, Alan. I just checked out your blog & articles – good stuff there. Haven’t done as much with the B2C retail sector so I look forward to reading your future material.

  • Jonathan Mendez


    I look forward to your columns. However, I do have to respond to your main assertion. We have done testing for a client on this very subject and found brand PPC is indeed incremental when compared with not purchasing the ads.

    While traffic from brand kw ads did not provide an incremental lift due to the ads, revenue and RPV numbers shot up across all three engines because of them. So while Google (and the others) had nothing to do with generating click demand, the ad had plenty to do with driving incremental sales vs. not having the ad.

    The study is here:




  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog Alan Rimm-Kaufman

    Hi Jonathan —

    Thanks for your comment.

    To clarify, we’re NOT recommending NOT advertising on the brand (pardon the double negative there) — a retailer’s brand name will typically be ultra low-cost and super-high converting. Of course we run those terms and they do well.

    What we’re saying is that a customer searches for a retailer by name only when they’ve already opted to buy from that specific retailer — and that prior awareness is due to prior marketing or prior brand exposure in other channels.

    Yes, take the brand sales and enjoy the profits they provide, but evaluate your search term — agency or in-house — on the ability to grow the sales profitably in the NON-brand portfolio — those are sales where the advertiser is seizing the click and the order away from the competition. And those are far more likely to be new buyers, the lifeblood of a direct marketing firm.

    Cheers —


  • Vu

    I also highly encourage to review a Performics study for multiple clicks before purchase. That study is totaly proving otherwise as well.

  • http://www.techmentat.com Tech Mentat

    Alan, I agree with your point, however, I have a few caveats I has hoping you could comment on.
    First is NEED based products; Ex. Auto Parts, Medical/Emergency products. In my experience, branded AND non-branded keywords aren’t incremental for these verticals. While this doesn’t contradict your initial point on branded terms, it does seem to disagree with your bottom line.
    Secondly, are content (non conversion or product based) websites. In my experience for sites that merely supply content, branded terms actually have the highly (and most frequent) visitor frequency – these visitors also spent a longer period of time on the content site. In this sense, I feel the value of branded terms IS incremental.
    I think your point was a great one to make and if you have thoughts on the two points above – I’d love to know what you think.

  • http://www.optimizeandprophesize.com/ Jonathan Mendez

    Alan, in your reply (thank you for it) you stated: “What we’re saying is that a customer searches for a retailer by name only when they’ve already opted to buy from that specific retailer ”

    I’m not so sure. There are certainly loads of navigational queries and no question brand performs better in every key metric but I think you may be undervaluing the searcher behavior of brand query use in the consideration stage.

    In many respects it is easier to optimize conversion rates on landing pages and add incremental revenue off these branded terms turning folks that were coming as browsers into buyers.

    So personally I do feel (and have seen) that contrary to your original post, sales from brand phrases can be incremental and can indeed (and should) reflect the effort of the search team. Especially one steeped in optimization.



  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog Alan Rimm-Kaufman
  • http://www.theppcbook.com theppcbook


    Glad to have another paid search author to read here at SEL.

    I have to say I agree with your assessment that a “retailer’s brand name will typically be ultra low-cost and super-high converting”, however, an experienced paid search agency can improve ROI on these terms just as they would on non-brand searches.

    Also, I’ve found that searching on a brand name doesn’t at all mean the prospect has “already opted to buy from that specific retailer”. On the contrary, brand name searches are often in the research phase.

    For example, if I want to see how much a nikon xyz costs, versus a canon abc, I’m just comparing. This is not a ‘layup’ sale, and requires a combination of specific ad and landing page to convert the sale. All of which requires effort on the part of your paid search agency.

    Good article, keep it up..


  • http://www.topdownsem.com TopDownSEM

    The article could be construed as saying someone who typed in “Nissan” or even “Nissan Altima” is in a purchase mode. I can’t tell you how many times I have searched for cars because I wanted to research them long before purchase. Not to mention, since I can never remember what Nissan’s website is since they have that domain dispute issue, I usually will search for it.

    I’m interested if your studies show the same for products that consumers research well in advance over.

    I would assume the average consideration time for a consumer to take a cruise is months. I know the names “Carnival” and “Royal Caribbean”, and will search on them both, but they haven’t sold me yet.