How often do you look at who is bidding on your branded keywords? If your answer is “each quarter, when I update my SEM plan for my client,” then you are missing opportunities to protect your branded keywords and increase clicks.
Let’s look at why monitoring the activity on your branded keywords should be a weekly activity and is a relatively painless way to improve PPC performance.
First, to get everyone on the same page, brand bidding is when another advertiser appears in the sponsored listing on keywords that contain your brand. It could be just a search on your brand name, a typo of that, or a phrase involving your brand (e.g. Nike shoes).
Who does it?
There are three popular groups of advertisers that will bid on your branded keywords: affiliates, re-sellers, and competitors. Not all three may apply to your industry, but these are the ones to keep an eye on.
The PPC impact
First off, it’s not always a bad thing. Many brands give explicit permission to other companies to advertise on their branded keywords. Or, they simply look the other way when it happens because it is helping build impressions and drive clicks and sales. But, oftentimes, brand bidding helps the three groups mentioned above more than it helps the brand itself.
When unsanctioned affiliates brand bid, they interfere with your search metrics and cause attribution problems. It also drives up your cost of sale. When re-sellers brand bid outside of sanctioned markets (think of all the re-sellers of telecom services, like Comcast, for example), they interfere with other resellers and lead to unnecessary competition. When competitors brand bid, they are capitalizing on your brand equity and getting a free ride.
The benefit of monitoring
As I mentioned before, brand bidding doesn’t always happen, and when it does, it might be allowed. But you need to be monitoring constantly to determine that it’s not harming your PPC performance.
Options for monitoring
Monitoring by hand is difficult since paid search ads rotate every time a search query is launched, the ads run day and night, and the ads are often tailored to the user’s search history. This is a bit much for humans who needs to sleep and are not (yet) all-knowing. The best solution is to use a fine-tuned automated crawler technology to complete the task for you. The technology can be set to email you when it sees something outside of your established rules and can even include a screenshot of the issue.
Voila! When an unwanted action occurs, you know immediately and can take action.
You have fought tooth and nail to build a valuable brand. It’s therefore a business necessity to keep an eye on partners, such as affiliates and re-sellers, and competitors, to make sure they’re not hindering the growth of your brand and sales.