For anyone who has a Google account manager the first they always tell you is that you should be bidding on brand. Well, in some cases they may be correct, but we shouldn’t take what they say as gospel and should A/B test it.
Only you bidding
If we do a Google search and can see no competitors bidding on your brand it makes sense to not bid. Why give Google money when you are number one organically for the same level of sales? if you are not number one for your brand you probably have other issues to worry about and need to analyse your SEO strategy.
Other websites are bidding:
If there are others bidding on your brand firstly identify who these are.
It’s usually in the contract that affiliates can’t bid on your brand so ask them to stop or threaten to remove them from the programme. If this means you’re now the only one bidding, that’s great. You will either increase sales (affiliates will lose out) or stay at the same level.
While it would be nice to ring up the competition and say ‘please stop bidding on our brand,’ I doubt they will listen. You could offer a gentleman’s agreement that you wouldn’t bid on their brand if they stopped bidding on yours and I have worked in sectors where this does happen, but the only people that usually win is Google.
However, if your competition aren’t going to stop bidding first, see it as a compliment that they see you as a big enough threat for them to invest time and money in the PPC space. Secondly as they will have a low quality score that they potentially could be paying a lot get your customers.
Your strategy here – simple A/B test stop bidding. While Google won’t let you directly do this, as most companies would see they are paying for something they don’t need to, you can do it yourself by looking into the data.
You need to look at the data on a mobile and desktop view and really dig into it.
For the first two weeks of a month leave everything as normal then, in the first two weeks of the next month, switch PPC off completely (brand only) and see if the sales you were getting via paid search now come from organic.
I can’t share specific information but the numbers below illustrate the argument. All data is correct:
Let’s say you’re spending £1000 a week on a brand and you get 50 sales. You’re happy with the cost per acquisition of £20. You are doing well on organic search and get 300 sales (this is total SEO sales as we can’t tell by keywords anymore – thanks to Google for that).
In total you are spending £1000 and getting 350 sales which is ok.
Let says you switch off the brand bidding for first two weeks of the next month and you get 347 sales through SEO and PPC but save yourself £1000.
You have got to ask yourself, ‘are the three customers that you lost worth £1000’?
In theory the costs per acquisition of those three extra customers is really £333 not £20. Are they still profitable at £333?
If you’re a mid-range ecommerce company probably not, high end maybe. But, perhaps you could better invest that £1000 to drive more customers to your website.
However, you can go even further into the analysis and only bid on brand for people who have previously come to the site against those who haven’t and see what impact this has on sales. The good thing about PPC is that it is all data. So long as you don’t mind analysing this data, and delving deeply into EXCEL, you can make some great savings.
We have performed this testing for clients and every time we get the same questions: ‘But we have always bid on brand,’ ‘Google tells us to bid on brand,’ and ‘It converts really well we don’t want to lose these sales.’
Every time we have to go through the above and explain we are using data and maths to see whether it’s worthwhile bidding or not. Let the data make the decision.
If we came across an example of where bidding makes sense, firstly we will update this article but we would recommend the client to carry on bidding. We want to help clients grow.
However, sometimes you need brand to portrait a particular message. If you are doing an above the line campaign and want users to see your message, it can be quite difficult to edit the meta descriptions users see, so in this case it might be worthwhile for the duration of the campaign to have a brand PPC campaign live.
I am the Managing Director of Coreter Media and have been in Digital Marketing since 2009. Initially in-house working for some of the UK’s biggest brands, but now I run my own agency helping small businesses grow.