Top 4 Reasons to Bid on Your Competitors’ Brand Name in Google AdWords

Bidding on your competitor’s brand names – the names of a competitor’s company or product – is a great way to get more impressions, clicks conversions or views. I’m sure you’ve run across related ads before. Let’s say you type something very specific into the search bar like, Nike Running Shoes, and an ad for Footlocker or Amazon appears.

Fair enough, after all they stock that product. But, you may also see ads for Puma, Adidas or Reebok. Why? These companies know that you’re in the market for running shoes and they want to capitalize on the popularity of the competition.

This popular marketing tactic can be seen everywhere from fast food chains (a different one on every corner) to malls with countless clothing shops.

1) Why It Works Online

When you offer a similar product or service as your competition, you can piggyback on the bigger brand name recognition to achieve your marketing goals – whether you want to: increase brand awareness, generate traffic to your website, take action on your site, or increase video views.

Working “with” your competitors is one of the best ways to get a qualified audience; meaning individuals or businesses who are ready to take the leap. If they’re interested in the competition and you show them how you are, not only similar, but offer something even more tempting (more on that later) they are “ripe for the pickin’.”

2) How Bidding On Your Competitors Brand Names Can Save You Money

Branded terms will typically cost less then other clicks because there isn’t much competition for them. Usually, it is the most relevant branded terms, that result in high CTRs that lead to high quality scores, and often the cheapest CPCs.

Even if your competitors only have a few hundred searches a month, the cost to bid on a company brand name is likely going to be very small, because the costs of targeting that particular keyword is based upon how many other people are targeting that keyword. So in most cases you’re facing very little competition which means the cost per click can be very low $0.20 or maybe $0.50 per click. A relative bargain when maybe a heating company might pay usually 3 to 4 dollars a click.

Try using SpyFu or iSpionage – competitive analysis tools – to get a feel for how many searches and clicks your competitors are getting.

When bidding on branded names, don’t just stick with their company name, bid on specific products or even their URL or SKU’s. Not only are these terms likely to be easy on your wallet, they should also garner some of your highest click-through rates and Quality Scores.

You may be shocked to know that sometimes your competitors forget to bid on their own brand names, making it a less expensive more successful conversion campaign. Not only that, you can actually outrank your competitor for their own brand names.

A word of caution, you’re allowed to purchase their names as keywords, but you can’t use their name in your ad copy. Also, make sure you aren’t using Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) in your headlines, which can create an infringement issue. 

3) How You Gain Brand Awareness

You remember the popular kids in school? Let me be more specific, the well-liked ones who seemed to have that extra-special something. It was hard not to admire (and on some level resent) them. The same is true for competitors who may be enjoying more success than you.

But, what do you think would help you up-your-marketing-game, tearing down your competitors, or sitting right next to them and emulating what IS working? The latter, of course. Remember, it’s not enough to just mirror their strengths; you have to be better in order to get loyal customers or followers to make the switch.

Once individuals or businesses are aware of your similar presence, it’s time to give them a reason to make a change. Here are a few ideas…

  • Beat the vendors prices
  • Offer a limited time discount
  • Create a value proposition that they don’t address
  • Use better ad extensions than the competition
  • Make a distinct or creative call to action
  • Throw in something for free

4) Why It’s Legal And How You Can Benefit

Advertising policies (in Google AdWords) stipulate only that you need to have permission from the owner to use trademarks in your ads. Aside from the ads themselves Google clearly states: We don’t investigate or restrict trademarks as keywords.

Take for example this Louis Vuitton vs. Google lawsuit, and how lesser known companies benefitted by bidding on his brand name…

Google’s AdWords service allowed advertisers – selling imitations of Louis Vuitton products – to bid on the keyword “Louis Vuitton.” The court ruled that Google is not responsible for the conduct of advertisers. With respect to the advertisers, it ruled that they would only be held responsible for the use of keywords, if the ad was misleading about the commercial relations or origin. Therefore, the ad for Luis Vuitton product imitations must not pretend to be an ad for the original product or associate the imitations with originals in any way.

It’s easy to see, based on this example, how lesser-known companies benefit greatly by hitching their wagon to a legendary name.

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