Why You Should Use Brand Campaigns

Leave me to my own devices, when crafting PPC ad campaigns for gonculators.com — I hope I’m making that up, with a nod to Hogan’s Heroes — and I will make brand (or branded) campaigns for both search and display networks. The keywords in the search campaign will likely be:

  • +gonculator (the + is for modified broad match; the word marked with it, or a close variant, must appear in the user’s search term)
  • [gonculator] (the brackets signify exact match, which means the user’s search term must match the keyword exactly, allowing for plurals and other close variants)
  • +gonculators
  • [gonculators]
  • +gonculators.com (because people often type a web address in the search box of certain browsers which have separate address boxes)
  • [gonculators.com]

I’ll be sure to use slightly higher initial bids for the exact match keywords than for their modified broad match versions, but tiered bidding is a topic for another day.

The keywords in the display campaign will simply be gonculator, gonculators, and gonculators.com, because all keywords in the Google Display Network are broad match.

Sometimes, a client tells me he doesn’t want campaigns on his own brand keywords. When I ask why, the answer is always the same: His web site typically appears at the top of organic search results, so it’s easy for people to find. Clicks on organic search results are free. Why should he pay for clicks on an ad?

Here are six reasons.

  1. A company’s own brand keywords tend to get very high quality scores in the company’s AdWords account. This means they increase the account’s overall quality score, which means lower costs for the same ad positions across the account. (Quality scores are definitely a subject for another day.)
  2. Largely because of high quality scores, the company’s ads on its own brand keywords are likely to be in top positions — that is, above the organic search results. Higher on the page is better.
  3. Your ad takes up prime space on the page, which means less prime space for your competitors’ ads.
  4. Similarly, your bidding on your own brand terms — from a position of strength — makes it more difficult and more expensive for your competitors to use your brand terms for their own benefit.
  5. You have a great deal more control over where a potential customer goes on your site with PPC than with organic search results. The organic result will generally be a page related to the search term, but Google chooses the page. With properly-managed PPC you can send that click reliably to just the right page — ideally, a page optimized for conversions.
  6. When accounts are set up to measure return on ad spend (ROAS) — see my own discussion of ROI, ROAS, and ELROI — we see that brand keywords tend to convert with an extremely high ROAS. These conversions may be tens or even hundreds of times more profitable than other conversions in the account, because users searching for your company by name are already inclined to buy from your company. You can tell me that they would come just as eagerly, and in equal numbers, if you had only organic search results, without ads. And we could probably even think up a test for that. If we did, I’d bet money on the ads.

Several of these reasons are, in a sense, restatements of this question: How much business do you want to leave for your competitors, when prospective customers are already searching for your brand or company name? I’m guessing, not so much.

Pay-per-click advertising is not one-size-fits-all, but it’s a rare account that doesn’t needed a search campaign on brand keywords. And a display campaign with the same keywords often does very well, too.

(Revised March 30, 2015; June 1, 2015.)t

Posted in Getting Started, PPC

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