Why we advertise on brand search queries and you should too
5 PPC Case Studies
Does it pay off? Isn’t it a waste of money? Will it lure clicks away from organic search results?
Over the years while working on large, market leader clients the same question arises eventually. Why should we bid on our brand name? We already rank #1 for search queries related to our brand name.
Common sense could make you believe it truly is a waste of ad budget, better spent in alignment with some other marketing goals. Advertisers with less online experience often believe that these type of ads will never pay off. Already ranking for the top results in the organic search results is a reasonable argument. They believe they are paying a lot of money for the exact same searches, cannibalizing organic results this way.
But numbers beat opinion. We unquestionably believe in results. As a consequence, when we face a challenge, we test the theories. So we did the math for you.
But don’t skip ahead that much. There are numerous reasons even without any analytical investigation that can convince you to bid on your own brand name.
We’ll go into the Adwords Basics 101 here, so if you’re more of a professional, you can just skip to the details of our experiments.
First of all, you will take up much more SERP space.
If you are in the convenient situation when you rank number one for your brand name both in organic and paid searches, it is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. Take that valuable space on the results page against your competition.
Look at the picture below. With the ads on top, followed by organic results, having Knowledge Graph on the right and in some cases even news in the bottom, you can dominate the whole page all by yourself. Looks nice, isn’t it? But you need Adwords to achieve this.
Let us show you another example with a local market leader brand. Trust us on this, you don’t have to be a multi-million-dollar company to take up the whole search results page.
Another logical reason to bid on your own brand name is simply because it can be significantly cheaper to bid on these than any other keyword, in most cases. Our lowest CPC was under 3 HUF (under $0.01), so cost cannot be a barrier doing so.
The cost of a click is highly influenced by the Quality Score.
Quality Score is determined by 3 components: expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. The more relevant your ads and landing pages are to the user, the higher your Quality Score will be.
With the same bid, a higher Quality Score means higher ad rank. Or the other way around, for the same ad rank, a high Quality Score provides lower bids.
Ads that contain the brand name itself in the ad usually get a high click-through rate. The landing page of the brand is also highly relevant to the user as well. So if you don’t mess up anything seriously with your ad’s copy, you are likely to have a high Quality Score.
Even though your competitors may be willing to bid on your brand name, too, your relevance cannot be matched, meaning you have a lower cost to pay for the same searches.
As mentioned above, some companies will bid on your brand name. Leaving aside your feelings about it, be convinced that it is a widely known technique and your competitors may be actually doing this right now. Isn’t it wiser to spend some money on it, too, than lose clicks on it to a competitor of yours?
Not to mention the more control you get on your communication and brand. When you only have organic results you have the title and description of your website, but barely anything more. On the other hand, you have several more options with ads.
You are able to communicate current offers and even use ad extensions to show more relevant information to your customers which would be impossible otherwise.
Enhancing your ads with extensions is a great way to stand out from the crowd, even among other ads. By giving more information to customers, you can give more reason to click on your ad. This usually means higher click-through rate (CTR) on your ads.
There are manual and automated ad extensions available in Google Adwords as well. Automated extensions don’t require any setup, so you won’t find any relevant options in Adwords. The system creates and displays automated ad extensions formats when it predicts that they’ll improve their performance. There are several automatic ad extensions like previous visits or consumer ratings, just to mention a few. You can learn more about them here.
Manual ad extensions give more value to your ads with the additional information and possibilities they provide. You can give details about how to reach your store with a Location extension or let people call you on the phone by clicking a button in the ad with the Call extension. Using an ad with the Sitelinks extension, you can direct your customers to several landing pages helping them to find what they are looking for. Experiment with these and other options in your account to see which works best for you.
I am the target text.Now as we covered the basic reasons supporting the idea of brand campaigns in Adwords, let’s take a look at some of our case studies on the topic.
CASE STUDY 1 – retail webshop
The regularly debated question of whether we should run brand campaigns or not rose last summer with a client of ours. As a company with webshops in several countries in the region, they were uniquely curious if their organic results could replace Adwords brand campaign’s performance. We agreed to turn off the campaign to test the idea. After a short discussion, we came to a conclusion to test during a 2-week period – 1 week while we were running Adwords campaigns with brand related search queries and 1 week while we turn these campaigns off and let organic results do the work.
This was important because we wanted to compare two similar periods, within the same circumstances. This period was long enough to gather enough quality data but short enough to rule out any long-term trends and seasonal effects.
Beforehand, take a look at the brand campaign we had running previously. During the one-week period before shutting it down, the campaign achieved $1268 daily revenue while organic searches with the brand name included resulted in a magnificent result of $241 daily.
During week 2, after shutting the brand campaigns down in Google Adwords, organic results improved to a stellar daily revenue of $757. This suggests that paid ads indeed cannibalized the results of organic results. But once we looked at the whole picture, we realized the ugly truth:
this huge improvement still could not fully replace the paid channel’s performance.
Simply put, organic search results could not make up for the drastic decrease. Without brand ads in Adwords, a loss of $750 daily means 50% less revenue. We consider that a lot.
As mentioned before, we were paying relatively low prices for these brand related search queries in Adwords. Running these ads was worth it, without any doubt. Considering that turning these ads off would have resulted in a loss of $22.500 monthly income, we could easily convince our client to continue running brand campaigns.
CASE STUDY 2 – online marketplace
During this following example, we also took direct traffic into account. We chose a date to turn off the brand campaigns here as well and examined the previous and following 12 days’ performance. In this experiment, we had more time to collect data, but some seasonal effects influenced our results to a minor degree.
The blue line indicates the revenue during the first 12-day-long period when the brand campaigns were running. The orange one marks the second part of our experiment, while we turned brand related campaigns off.
Clearly visible, without the brand related ads, our revenue significantly decreased even in such a short period of time. After turning off our brand campaigns there was a noticeable decline in the most important metrics. During the experiment, we measured a decrease of 23% of revenue which is more than $43.000 in our case. The number of sessions decreased, too, with 25%.
After turning the brand campaigns back again, traffic started to increase and it eventually reached the previous level.
It became sure once again that brand related Adwords campaigns highly contribute to a company’s online success.
CASE STUDY 3 – social shopping website
We would also like to ensure you that our theory also remains trustworthy on the long run. In the case of a partner of ours, only 3 brand keywords made a huge impact on the campaigns performance. It became clear to us that it is a must for most of our clients, regardless of the size and power of their brands. Listing all the brand related search queries that you find relevant can be a long process – but most of their performance will be concentrated on just a few queries. In our case, taking a look at all the Adwords search queries that has the company’s brand name or a part of the brand name in it; we saw that the 3 top-performing brand related keywords were responsible for 92% of sessions. This ratio stands still when it comes to the number of transactions: 92% of transactions that started with a brand related Google search were related to the 3 top keywords. We faced this data on quite a long term, a date range from the start of 2014 until the middle of 2016.
These searches having your brand name in it are low hanging fruits that you should take advantage of. When you have a brand name of multiple words, a list of brand queries can easily extend to fifty or even a hundred of different keywords. Your brand name as one word, written with spaces, with or without accents, or complemented with any other keywords. The possibilities are nearly endless, so be thorough when listing the possible search queries. It may take a while, but will pay off well later.
CASE STUDY 4 – competitor brand keywords
Having spoken of your competitors bidding on your brand name, we recall a case when a client of ours asked us to bid on its main competitor.
During the campaign, we achieved almost 3.000.000 impression and more than 100.000 clicks. We have created a separate landing page for this special campaign to maximize our Quality Scores. Despite our significant efforts, most of the keywords got a Quality Score of 3. Okay, some of them increased to 5. Decent, right? Click-through rate was relatively low with its 3-4% average, and CPC costs moved up to about $0.30 which was way more than the average before.
As seen above, we didn’t bring great results with these tactics, but let me clear the air here. Our main objective was to simply lure away some search volume from the competitor on its keywords. Improving return or traffic was not an objective in this case.
On the short term, you may be willing to follow these tactics, but if you plan to achieve better long-term results, you have to do better than this.
CASE STUDY 5 – building material webshop
Managing an account for a building material webshop was a pretty new experience for us. But we learned that the industry does not matter. If done right, bidding on brand keywords can be an especially effective technique in this niche too.
When we took over the account of one of our newest clients we realized a huge growth opportunity, as they previously had no brand keywords in their account at all. This was our most recent experience about brand keywords, and we achieved the largest rate of growth among all of our clients this year.
To give you the whole picture you in this one, we brought the number of sessions, transactions and revenue as well. As you can see, all three of those metrics heavily increased.
The conclusion for us is this. The brand keywords indeed took traffic away from organic. On the other hand, we improved every important KPI to an extent that would have been almost impossible without brand related ads.
Does it pay off for everyone?
In general, yes, you should probably bid on your brand name. You will have more traffic and higher return on investments in most cases. With the experience we have with our clients we can only encourage you to put aside some ad budget to bid on your brand name in Adwords. However, there may be some rare cases in which you may need to think twice about it. If you have a brand name similar to another company which happens to be more well-known, you might turn your brand campaigns off. If you keep on bidding on them in this case, people may leave your website in no time as it is likely they are not looking for you, but for that other company.
As a key takeaway, try running a few tests with brand campaigns on a limited budget to see if works for you. Search engine optimization can be a super powerful tool in one’s shed, but relying solely on organic results on a search engine result page is probably a bad idea as you may miss out on a large amount of search volume. If you want to build a profitable Adwords account you can be proud of, you will have to consider brand search queries sooner or later.