PPC Bidding Against your Competition

By: Gary


By Gary E. Haffer

One of the best "tricks" in managing a PPC campaigns is creating ads that will be triggered from your competitor's brand names. The first common question is this "legal", to bid with their names even if they are trademarked? The answer is yes, as long as you don't include those brand or company names inside of your ads. Google has been challenged in the courts for allowing advertisers to display ads that are triggered by user searches for names such as "AcmeCompany.com". In all cases, Google has won the case that they have the right to allow your competitor to use your company name to trigger their ad, and vice versa. So since this is an acceptable practice, by all means you should actively pursue a competitor's brand name campaign.

Note, there are times you can use the brand name in the ads, if you are a reseller and complement their business, but you may not get away with if you compete directly. The best way to find out if this is acceptable is to try running an ad with the brand term in it. Google will very quickly return a message stating if this is acceptable. You may have to request "an exception" stating why it is acceptable to use the brand name in the ad. Give it a try, but run an alternative ad without brand terms in case the ad at a future date is rejected and this can happen.

When bidding with your competitor's names, I always like to break these up into separate ads, and when possible use like terms as in this example below. Having these ads separated is very useful for future reports to develop trends to measure which competitor has the best on-line brand presence overall or the effect of news events by spikes in daily traffic. And don't limit the ads to your competitors terms, include an ad for your own company, because this will help you understand how your on-line presence measures up or if that recent press release generated any search excitement. An example of brand search terms that will trigger ads is as follows:

www acmecompany
acmecompany.com
acme company com
[Acme Company] (exact match)
"Acme Company" (phrase match)

In the example above I avoid a broad match if the company name is somewhat common, since this will trigger a much wider search result. For in brand bidding I'm really looking for the searches people are doing who know the company name and are using Google as a quick directory lookup. You can include product names if the branding is unique and has some common usage, but I always recommend performing a search first to check out the search results to avoid association with other common terms.

Will brand bidding deliver new sales? Is the effort worth it? Very often the conversions aside from your on brand terms (which should be your highest converting ad) will produce lower sales or leads from the other campaigns. But in most cases the actual costs associated with brand bidding are much lower, so the Cost Per Conversion is low, thus making it worth it. The insight in tracking your competitions on-line marketing efforts can prove to be a long-term benefit as it is often an indication of how active they are in on-line marketing.

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