6 Great Reasons To Invest In Brand Paid Search Ads

Mar 20, 2018   |   Clock Icon 6 min read
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As a marketer in charge of paid search, whether you work in-house or at an agency, I’m sure you’ve been asked (or asked yourself), “Why are we bidding on our brand terms?” This usually stems from a desire to cut costs with the assumption that people searching for your brand will find you through your organic listings anyway. Which means there’s no point in spending money to get that traffic, right?


While the reasons vary depending on your business, there is almost always a good reason to continue bidding on those brand terms. So, paid search marketers, take heart and come to your next meeting armed and ready with these simple yet compelling arguments to keep your brand campaigns up and running.

While the reasons vary depending on your business, there is almost always a good reason to continue bidding on those brand terms.

1. Brand traffic is cheap.

Graph comparing brand vs. non-brand cost-per-click

As we all know, Google’s bidding structure is influenced largely by how compelling and relevant to the searcher’s intent your ads are compared to the competition’s. People searching for your brand will obviously favor your ads, and you clearly have high relevancy on branded search queries. As a result, you won’t need to pay as much to win an auction with your brand as you would on a non-branded term.

At Workshop Digital, we have found that brand ads cost on average about ¼ the cost of non-brand terms, with some costing as little as one percent of the non-brand cost. This means you won’t be breaking the bank to bring this traffic in. If you find you are having to pay significantly for this traffic, it means you have significant competition on your brand terms.

Which brings us to the next very compelling reason to bid on brand.

2. Keep the competition out.

Like it or not, Google’s search results are open to anyone willing to pay enough to win an auction. As of today, even owning a trademark on your brand does not prevent your competition from showing an ad when someone searches for you. People looking for brand terms are often well down in the consideration funnel, and by searching for your brand, they become a prime audience for your competitors. You want to make it as hard as possible for competitors to swoop in and poach these valuable customers, and the only way to ensure the top result on your brand SERP is protected is by paying for that ad placement.

3. Paid ads supplement organic performance.

While the Google team is quick to point out that their paid and organic teams are separate and paid ads do not give you a direct advantage in organic, it has been proven that having both paid and organic ads outperforms relying on either alone.

Studies have repeatedly shown that paid ads significantly improve results, even if you are the number one organic result on the page. A Google study¹ found that on average for searches where your organic position is one, the top paid ad results in an incremental lift in clicks of 50 percent. This incrementality increases to 82 percent for organic listings between two to four and to 96 percent for those with organic listings in position five or lower.

The big takeaway here is that even if your organic link is #1 on your brand page, Paid Ads can provide incremental traffic and value.

Graph showing how incrementality of ads clicks vary with the rank of advertiser's organic results
¹ https://research.googleblog.com/2012/03/impact-of-organic-ranking-on-ad-click.html

4. Provide a better experience using ad features not available in organic.

But what if I own every result on my brand SERP, you ask? Well, bidding on your brand allows you to leverage an array of ad options designed to improve your visitor experience and increase conversions.

Use sitelink extensions to direct searchers to pages deeper in your website. Promo pages that change frequently, important product or category pages, and pages which are not indexed are particularly great uses of this feature.

In addition, callout extensions let you educate your customers quickly on your company offerings and differentiators. Call extensions allow users to call directly from the search results. Location extensions show your nearest store location to the searcher and store hours. Structured snippets, price extensions, promotion extensions, rating extensions…the list goes on and on. All of these ad options allow you to sculpt a brand ad that reduces the natural friction involved with any web experience, so searchers will learn more about your company and take more of the actions you desire.

There are not many brands stronger than Home Depot. And as you can see by their brand ad below, they have clearly decided it is worth investing in enhancing their customer’s experience through paid brand ads.

Home Depot paid brand ad

And they are not alone. A quick search revealed an array of strong brands bidding on their brand terms, including Walmart, Honda, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bank of America, and even Amazon.

5. Testing, Testing & More Testing.

The marketer’s credo, right?

Paid brand ads allow you to create controlled A/B tests to see which messages resonate best with your very best audiences. Using the experiments tool and sophisticated machine learning within Adwords, you can quickly and easily determine which copy inspires the most clicks and conversions.

This messaging can then be repurposed on your website, in other marketing or remarketing channels, and even in your organic meta-data. It also provides valuable insight into which features of your product or services are most important to your repeat customers or those searchers comparing you to your competitors.

6. Pair with remarketing lists for greater control.

Another great resource available to paid ads is the remarketing audience. Remarketing lists paired with brand ads allow you to tailor your ads based on known details of a searcher’s behavior.

Have they bought from you before? Did they visit a particular product or category page? Are they a member of your newsletter?

These audience segments may be better served with a different brand search experience, and paid ads allow you to tailor the details specifically to their needs.

Still Unconvinced?

Why not dip your toes in the brand waters, so to speak, by excluding previous site visitors from your brand campaigns. By excluding repeat visitors, your spend is focused with laser-like precision on those searchers just beginning their relationship with your brand. Put your best foot forward by creating a compelling, informative, and helpful brand ad. Surely providing the best experience possible to your new visitors is worth the small expense.

In short, while we all understand the desire to save money where possible in our advertising portfolio, the benefits of running brand ads will almost always outweigh the small expense associated with them. So the next time you’re asked, “Why are we bidding on our brand terms?” don’t hesitate to share these five great reasons why.

Portrait of Charles Moehnke

Charles Moehnke