Advertisers seem to be on both sides of the fence for this strategy. It’s hard to find a marketer who doesn't have a strong opinion one way or another, when it comes to including brand-related keywords in a paid search campaign.
I've always been an advocate for letting the performance data, and ROI, make the SEM campaign decisions … not personal feelings. This includes if a company should bid on its own brand terms and name. Given that these terms typically aren't highly competitive, and that you'd be the most relevant for Google's quality score, top positioning for modest pricing should prevail. Add to that, a very high conversion rate for brand terms, and the formula for success (an aggressive ROI) is apt to occur.
Most often the reason given by marketers on why they don't want to pay for branding is that they don't feel they have to. The philosophy is if there is strong organic search results (which for your Brand terms there should be!) the company will capture the business anyway. While this may be true, is it worth the risk? At times, we have seen astounding returns on Brand campaigns. Even in the worst performing circumstances I have seen, the returns are still positive.
Additional thoughts to consider on the decision to bid on Brand terms:
- In paid search, the advertiser has full control over the message. Therefore, testing ad copy or frequent updates to promote short-term sales or special events is made easy. In Organic search, this is not the case.
- Organic search results for mobile differ from desktop and require a responsive or “M.” website. Again here, the advertiser does not have much control over what is indexed or with the title and description that are displayed. Leveraging mobile landing pages in paid search provides full control and visibility.
- If the company or brand has a very common or generic (multi-use) name, be mindful on how you set up your keywords surrounding this in paid search. Exact match or a large number of negative matched terms may be required to avoid a low quality score (site appearing as not relevant to query) or poor performance.
Having full visibility and exposure on brand terms is an important strategy. Ultimately, surround-sound can't hurt your business. If it’s a personal decision to not pay, then ensure your brand has a solid SEO/Content strategy so if other companies are appearing in paid ads for the company name, searchers clearly know where to click for you.
I will leave you with this thought … How would your Executive Team feel to turn down the following offer: Receiving $1,000 in exchange for $100? A return on investment of 10 times is not uncommon with brand terms in paid search. Understand through analytics what you are walking away from before you pause those keywords!