To brand bid or not to brand bid, that is the question

Jérémy Courty
March 12, 2024
To brand bid or not to brand bid, that is the question

Do you bid on your brand terms on Paid Search? Some brands do and some don’t. So who’s got it right? Well, it depends so let’s get into it.

But first, what is brand bidding? 

Within Paid Search it consists of bidding on your own brand terms - or trademarked terms, if you wish - in order to appear on Google Search and Shopping. For example, Scamp & Dude or Passenger Clothing. So when potential customers are searching for your brand, your ad will appear and redirect them straight onto your website.

Now, some marketers have strong views on brand bidding and would argue that if a customer is searching for their brand terms, their organic listing should capture them anyway. Effectively driving ‘’free’’ traffic to the site as it’s not incurring any advertising cost. To a certain extent that is true, but not always, and one I want to delve into in a sec.

The other challenge lies in how Paid Search is being perceived in-house. Historically, Paid Search has always been a Return On Ad Spend-focused channel. So, if you run a full-funnel strategy we know that brand activity drives a much stronger ROAS than non-brand. By nature, we’re engaging with users already familiar with your brand and ready to buy. Therefore, the minute you pause your brand activity, Paid Search ROAS starts to drop and senior stakeholders internally are interrogating PPC performance.

The one million pound question is always, should I actually bid on my brand term, yes or no? 

Our approach at Genie Goals is always the same and will depend on our client’s strategy. But here are a couple of pointers to help you review your use of brand bidding;

  • First, does your organic listing appear on top of the search result page and is the copy up to date? If yes, we would question whether brand bidding is vital for you. If not, then there’s an argument to launch Paid as you might lose out on ready-to-buy customers.
  • Second, we would look into Google Ads Auction Insights to understand if other retailers, or your third-party resellers, are appearing on your brand terms. If no one is and your organic listing is on top of the page then there is an argument to pause your branded activity on Search.

In both instances, if you do decide to drop brand bidding we would always recommend to have a solid testing plan in place. The hypothesis here is that your organic channel will pick up those sales. To prove or disprove this theory, when reviewing your activity, ensure that you are looking at performance holistically.

Now, what about brand bidding on Google Shopping? On that inventory, Google will match a retailer’s shopping ad with a search query based on factors like historical conversion rate, expected CTR and quality of the product feed. Meaning that pausing shopping brand activity will naturally open the door to retailers with similar products. So in that case it’s always about brand protection. All the time and cash you’ve invested in driving that new potential customer can be swept away by a competitor at the very last minute. So in most cases we would always argue to keep running brand activity on shopping. 

There might be one instance when it could be a conscious & strategic decision, and that is when a retailer is happy to drop out the auction for their third-party resellers to drive those sales instead.

What are some ecommerce brands doing?

One of our retailers' strategies is to capture brand demand at all costs. Their argument is that they should not lose out on ready-to-buy customers and own the first result page on Google.

Another retailer is more than happy to drop their brand activity and let their resellers pick up that sale; be it on Search or on Shopping. This can be more unusual but their argument is that it is still a sale for their brand and they do not want to compete against their own resellers.

Lastly, a small fashion retailer we’re working with is visible both on brand shopping and on SEO so have decided to pause brand bidding. They understand their PPC ROAS is going to drop and are happy to purely focus on mid-funnel activity through Search and Pmax.

Now that you know what brand bidding is all about, it is a case of understanding whether your money might be better invested somewhere else to drive new customer acquisition. But whatever you do, we’d always recommend you to test either strategy to first understand the potential impact on your budget and other key metrics.

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