To Conquest or Not To Conquest? That Is the Paid Search Question

Search marketing is fun. In each PPC account, you get to play around with a handful bells and whistles to consistently improve performance. But, what happens when you’ve had your fun with those bells and whistles and want to try something new? Easy. Go after the competition! Hmmm… not so fast.

While it’s easy to create a campaign to target your competitor’s brand, it’s important to take a step back and really consider the consequences. Are your competitors bidding against your brand? If they are, are you fully aware of the effect in doing the same? Generally, branded campaigns are usually the most profitable in search. Messing with your competitor’s branded campaign potentially puts yours in danger.

But how will they know I’m bidding against their branded terms? Simple.

The competitor you’re targeting will notice their CPC increasing and will jump into their auction insights to find your name. Or, they can just search for their keywords and find your ads popping up along with theirs. Creating that competitor campaign is an open invitation for your competition to do the same to you. This will inadvertently increase the cost of your branded campaign by creating a bidding war. The CPC for your own branded terms will steadily increase as long as the war lasts, while both sides are losing money.

There’s also a massive impact on quality scores.

Bidding on your competitor can also be an ineffective strategy because of the extremely low quality score you will receive for these competitor campaigns. Quality score in Google and Bing consists of expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience. Your ads will receive tons of impressions and not as many clicks, since the ad does not include the brand the consumer was searching for in the first place. You can bid on your competition’s branded terms and put them in your ad’s Display URL, but cannot use it in ad copy. Therefore, ad relevance and landing page experience scores will likely be low. Expected click-through rate score will also be low because, again, not what the consumer was searching for. The low-quality score will result in a poor Ad Rank and very high CPCs.

Is it worth it?

Launching a competitor campaign is tricky, but worth a try as long as the strategy behind it is well thought out. According to Search Engine land, generally, “smaller companies without an established brand benefit from bidding on the competition.” Your competition receives a ton of traffic and you would only be taking away a small piece to get your un-established brand some exposure.

Another competitor strategy includes bidding competitor’s products or services in your search campaign instead of their brand. As long as you firmly believe your product/service is truly better, going after the competition is worth a shot.

Let your product speak for itself in the 120 total characters allowed in expanded text ads.

Sometimes you’ve got to risk it for the sweet conversion biscuit.



M A R I S O L  C A R D E N A S
Search Marketing Analyst



Posted on December 20, 2016 in Marisol Cardenas

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