"We already rank well organically, why am I bidding on my branded terms?" How many times have you heard this question asked, or even asked it yourself?
This common question needs revisiting from time to time. Let's look at the three main reasons why people continue to spend money on branded terms.
Brand Infringement/Protecting Your Space
Increasingly more competitors, or resellers, have bid on branded terms since the policy for bidding on branded terms opened up after Google's trademark change in May 2009. Bidding on your own branded terms protects your ad space, because if it isn't you, it will be a competitor.
Look at 1-800-Flowers. If they weren't bidding on their own brand, then two other ads would have taken up that ad space.
You may think that your years of hard work created a person searching for this term, and without your product, or brand advertising there is no market for this affiliate or competitor to gather traffic. That's a great argument, and over time the legislation may catch up to that theory, but it doesn't work that way now. So while you're fighting the good fight protecting your space as a defensive move is the only way to go.
Though many people may never click on paid search ads and only click organic, other people are the opposite, or situation based. The evolution of universal search is changing the SERP into more of a menu. There are videos, tweets, paid search, organic search, local business ads, images, news, etc. With all these options, it's critical that your brand is an option on this menu. Paid search is a guaranteed way to get placement.
A recent case study released by Google featured a test done by Vineyard Vines. This test was designed to measure the incremental lift from having paid search ads. They found that when they turned off their paid search ad they only received 33 percent of clicks they would have received in paid via organic search, and missed out on 67 percent. Considering the conversion rate of these terms, the ability to control ad copy, landing pages based on any given promotion, or other optimization tests that might be done is key to driving incremental business results.
Impact on Brand Awareness
Many studies have demonstrated an increase in brand awareness when both paid and organic search listings appear together in top spots. Consumers think highly of brands that they see more frequently. They identify with traditional advertising methodology, the more times a consumer is exposed to the brand the better in any form, or medium.
The most frequently cited study is one done by Honda and Enquiro. This study found that brand affinity, brand recall, and purchase intent was all increased by 16 percent, 42 percent, and 8 percent respectively when their ads appeared in the top sponsored and top organic spots.
Overall, it may be unfair to ask brand owners to buy paid search listings for their own terms; however, these reasons make a compelling argument. We've tested turning off branded ads before for clients, and we'll most likely do it again in the future.
Performing this test each time should yield the same results that many others have experienced. Not to mention how many advertisers rely on their branded paid search ads to justify any non-branded spending, but that is another discussion/article for another time.