Google Adwords campaign management: Competitor brand name bidding tips

By Sujit Nair

In their quest to maximize the number of relevant click-throughs for their ads, advertisers and campaign managers running a pay-per-click campaign on Google Adwords often resort to a ‘competitor brand name bidding’ strategy.

As the name suggests, competitor brand name bidding is a strategy used to get clicks for one’s campaign for searches on competitor’s brand name terms. Once the advertiser/Adwords campaign manager decides to adopt this strategy, they must ensure certain checks are in place and precautions taken so that there are no repercussions to not only the campaign but also ramifications from a financial, legal or organization’s image perspective.

Avoid keyword insertion
One of the most important tips is to not use dynamic ‘keyword insertion’ feature available on Google Adwords for competitor brand name terms. Before I explain why, here’s some information on the keyword insertion feature.

Dynamic keyword insertion is a great feature that helps campaign managers to bid for and automatically have their target keywords/ phrases inserted into the ad text for matching search queries. The keywords can be inserted in both the headline as well as the body of the ad copy.

The syntax of the ad creative using keyword insertion looks like:

{Keyword: Default Ad}
Ad copy line 1
Ad copy line 2

See more on keyword insertion.

The reason I recommend not using the keyword insertion command when bidding for competitor brand name terms will hopefully be clear with the following example:

Suppose an advertiser has bid for the competitor’s company name. So when users search for the competitor company name, based on the keyword insertion algorithm, the ad displayed would be something like:

Competitor Name
Ad copy line 1
Ad copy line 2

There are some obvious issues with an appearing in this manner:
- It amounts to a blatant violation of the competitor’s copyright/trade mark
- It can be seen as misleading users by attracting traffic using somebody else’s name
- Depending on the two lines of text in the ad creative, the whole thing may look silly or even ridiculous, which can potentially cause the advertiser irreparable damage to their own brand
- There is also the chance that the advertiser will end up inadvertently creating awareness about the competitor and eventually lose traffic and customers to the competitor.

Besides the fact that the advertiser may be alienating a prospect for life, the advertiser may also be liable for legal proceedings and possible penalties depending on which part of the world the company is located in.

To avoid such serious issues, it is always safe to create a different ad group that is dedicated solely for executing the competitor brand name bidding strategy. Get all possible competitor brand names into the same ad group. Create a ‘static ad’ - i.e. without keyword insertion- that highlights the key selling propositions of the product/ service being advertised.

Sujit Nair, a Google Adwords Qualified Professional, manages client acquisition and servicing for large accounts for On Target Marketing.

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