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Definition

Branded Search refers to when a Brand shows Search ads against its own Branded keywords .

Reasons for buying Branded Search keywords include:

  • Highest ROI. Typically, when visitors search for a Brand keyword they are already at the ‘bottom of the marketing funnel’ and are ready to buy. So buying Brand terms ensures a Brand captures the very bottom of the Funnel.
  • Competitor blockout. In nearly every niche, competitors are buying your Brand terms, in an attempt to luring your potential customers away from your offer and towards theirs. By buying and ranking high for your own Brand terms, you are ensuring your Brand always remains the most relevant for Brand searches. Also, by successfully owning your own Brand terms, you force your competitors to pay an even greater click premium for them to bid on your Brand keywords.
  • Incremental lift. A common question is: “If I’m ranking number one organically, why should I buy my own brand terms?”. Studies have shown that when Brands buy their own Brand terms, they actually get an incremental lift in conversions (ie. they get more conversions) when they rank number one both organically and in paid search for their Brand terms. A possible reason for this is that as users, we don’t really ‘read’ search results, but we instinctively ‘skim and scan’. If a Brand is ranked high for both paid and organic listings, we collectively accept both of these as confidence signals, confirming our trust in that Brand.
  • Seasonal promotions. One final important use of Brand ads – particularly when compared to Organic results – is the control of ad copy. Brands commonly have promotions that run over a very specific date range. With Organic search results, Brands have no control over the ‘ad copy’ that appears, so this can be rectified with Branded Search Ads – here advertisers have full control over both the ad copy and the time period over which these ads appear.   
Intentional Tips:
  • Always separate Branded Search campaigns from Unbranded Search campaigns (& definitely from Display Network campaigns). Never use ‘Search Network with Display Select’.
  • Buy Branded Search as an important part of your overall Digital Strategy
  • Never have Branded Search comprise a majority of your ad spend
  • Observe Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) for full control of all of your Brand terms
  • Never buy Branded Search inside Unbranded Search campaigns. This practise makes Unbranded Search campaigns appear to have better performance than they really do – because the bottom of the funnel is being mixed with the middle and top of the funnel. This typically happens because advertisers are unknowingly buying Branded Search within Unbranded Search because they have not been ‘negativing’ or ‘sculpting’ their Paid Search accounts properly. 
  • Never only buy Branded Search. This practise makes overall Paid Search appear to be returning stellar results since advertisers here are only buying the absolute bottom of the funnel. Only buying the Branded Search may appear to drive incredible ROI in the short term, but does not help in filling the top of your funnel, so  can actually ‘starve’ your Brand in the long term.

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