PPC Competitor Strategy Talk: Your Brand Vs. The World

February 7, 2013

When it comes to your branded search and your competitors, where do you draw the line on betting on competitor terms? When do you break out the metaphorical sword and start chopping down your enemies, a’la Scott Pilgrim? Glad you asked. Betting on competitor terms is a Paid Search strategy that can open a can of worms if you go about it the wrong way. But on the other hand, if you approach the strategy correctly, you can find success. For me, it all starts with securing your own brand. I often tell people at AdWords trainings that if you have a healthy amount of people in the same industry as you, you can bet that at least one is bidding on your terms and funneling those possible conversions to their site.

However, other people choose not to bid on competitor terms for various reasons. There are certainly other creative ways that you can increase your own brand presence, which might be cause for another blog post at some point but not today. Below are some tips for bidding on your competition that you should keep in mind that will keep you on the right side of the law and stand your ground with your own terms.

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It’s a no brainer. Have a brand strategy. Bid on your branded company terms and use ad extensions like sitelinks to lead people into your important conversion funnels. My most basic brand campaigns looking like this:

Campaign: Brand – Company
Ad Group: Company Name
Ad Group: Company Misspellings
Ad Group: Company Website

Often people look for certain brand-affiliated products. Make sure you have campaigns focused on this too! I would add brand campaigns with the key products or your own trademarked terms as well.

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Stop deluding yourself. Get a competitor strategy together. Just like I said in the beginning of the post, not all advertisers want to actively bid on competitor terms. If you are one, then boom, you have your strategy. But it might behoove you to brainstorm ways to combat the fact that your competitors might not be as scrupulous as you are. If you are in the other camp, then these following tips apply more to you.

Do you research – who is in the same ad spaces are you are? What are they doing with their ad copy? Use the Google Keyword Tool to get a running list of your competitors and judge how expensive this type of campaign might be. Use other tools like Spyfu to see some interesting historical data like archived ads and average daily spend.

Ask yourself if you’re willing to test. Do you have the budget to bid on competitor terms? Are you willing to test even if you might not get the best CTR’s and Conversion Rates?

The point is that this conversation needs to happen. So go do it.

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Be aware of your ad copy, my friend.  Also, read Google’s Trademark Policy. It’s pretty straight forward. Don’t have branded trademark terms in your ad copy or you could be in legal trouble. Laws are different for many countries, so read up on all relevant literature for whatever country you are targeting. The big thing to remember is that while you can happily bid on competitor terms, don’t actually use them in your ad copy or you can be hit with a “Cease and Desist” notice.

Remember that people who are looking for a certain branded product are already at a further point of a conversion funnel. You need to get creative with your ad copy here. Differentiate yourself from your competition. What do you do better than them? Just keep in mind that your ad copy shouldn’t mislead a user. What are some verifiable stats that put you above the rest? Is your price better? Prove it.

 Speaking of ad copy, don’t have an “oops” DKI moment. Dynamic Keyword Insertion can be your best friend for 

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your regular campaigns, but with your competitor campaigns, that’s a different story. I suggest not using DKI at all in competitor campaigns in the off-chance of a competitor term appearing in the ad copy.

If you have a particular product that directly competes with a competitor product, you also might want to consider a campaign that is targeting those product terms. Many of the same tips run with this idea, but just remember that any claims in your ad copy you use to differentiate yourself from them should be verifiable and true.

With these tips, you can be well on your way to delivering a pretty sweet Sonya-Blade-style Flying Kick to your competitor’s PPC campaigns.