When faced with budget cuts, many marketers stop bidding on their brand and trademark terms. But doing so is a mistake. While it may be a quick and easy way to limit spend, it can negatively impact overall campaign performance. To achieve the greatest return from a search engine marketing campaign, most brand owners should bid on their brand and trademark terms. Below are seven reasons to keep bidding on them through this recession.
Reason #1: When you enter the auction for your brand and trademark terms, you control the marketing message that searchers see. If you are not in the auction, your resellers and affiliates control the way your brand is represented in the search engine results, which may or may not align with your branding objectives. And while a top natural listing may portray the brand appropriately, it lacks the dynamic quality of a paid search ad. By using paid search to feature the latest promotion or customer focused messaging, you can engage the customer and win the click.
Reason #2: With the June 15 update of Google’s trademark policy, advertisers can not only buy trademark terms that they do not own, but they can also use those terms in their ad copy whether or not they have permission from the trademark owner to do so. Because of this change, it’s more important than ever that brand owners display ad copy on their brand and trademark terms. If you are not bidding on your brand and trademark terms and displaying relevant ad copy that captures the searcher’s attention, it is likely that other advertisers will, including your competition.
Reason #3: It’s 11 p.m., do you know what your affiliates are doing? While many affiliates are great brand partners, some wouldn’t hesitate to make a quick buck by bidding on your brand terms in paid search, even if they know that you forbid it. If your brand ads are live, they may not stop an affiliate from geo-targeting, day-parting, or trying to outbid you; however, your performance reports would indicate whether or not a problem exists. If your affiliates are bidding on your brand terms with your permission, consider whether it is more cost-effective to let them own these terms now, and what would happen if you decide to join the auction again in the future.
Reason #4: Bidding on your brand and trademark terms can serve a dual purpose. First, brand and trademark terms are an inexpensive way to drive conversions. Second, your brand and trademark terms provide a great opportunity to conduct research on the marketing messages that resonate with your customers. For instance, do they respond when you appeal to their emotions, their good judgment, or their wallets? If promotional messaging works best, does free shipping or a percentage off discount produce the most conversions, highest AOV, or greatest ROI? Using your brand terms, it’s quick and easy to set up a simple A/B ad copy test. Once you know which message appeals to your customers the most, you can apply it to other online marketing channels, including email, affiliate, and display advertising.
Reason #5: PPC brand ads complement other online marketing efforts, including display advertising. In fact, a recent iProspect study on the integration of search and display advertising found that 27% of people who respond to online display ads search for the product, service, or brand featured in the advertising. That’s just slightly less than the 31% who directly click on the ad. By not advertising on your brand terms in the paid search auction, you may be missing out on some of the benefits of display advertising. If your marketing messages are not aligned across channels, you may not capture all the traffic that you could.
Reason #6: The incremental cost savings you experience from pausing your brand terms may not offset the lost revenue, especially if your average CPC for brand terms is low. While it seems reasonable to assume that a brand with a top organic position will get the click whether or not it’s participating in the paid search auction, it’s rarely that simple. To truly gauge the impact of pausing your brand terms, consider how it will affect your bottom line, including overall site traffic, SEO revenue, and in-store revenue (if you have brick and mortar locations). While such a change may cause you to experience a channel shift, all of the traffic and revenue will not necessarily go straight to your SEO listings, especially now that more advertisers can use your brand name and trademarks in their Google ad copy.
Reason #7: If you leave the auction now because of budget constraints, you may have to pay higher CPCs for your brand terms when you enter the auction again. If your competitors, resellers, and affiliates take advantage of your absence and continue to bid on your brand and trademark terms, it is likely that they will improve their quality scores. Therefore, when you do join the auction again it may be more competitive and expensive than when you left.
Eliminating paid search spend on trademark terms may save a bit of money in the short term, but for most brands, advertising on these terms enhances overall campaign performance enough that it is worth doing, even when marketing budgets are tight. Smart marketers will continue to bid on them during this recession.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.