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Brand Terms in Bing Ads: To Bid or Not to Bid?

A continual topic of debate among search marketers is the value -- or necessity -- of including brand-name keywords in campaigns. Do these ads cannibalize organic search traffic, thereby wasting valuable ad dollars? Or are they necessary to keep competitors from capitalizing on a brand's traffic?

In April, eBay published results of a study in which it paused brand term ads in various markets. It found that incremental revenue from paid search was minimal because existing customers would have come to eBay anyway via organic search or other means.

But most companies are nothing like eBay, which is a market-dominant company with few competitors. It also has extremely high brand awareness and a loyal customer base. Besides, many retailers have to fight fiercely with competitors who bid on their brand terms to steal potential traffic; this is another issue that wasn't addressed in eBay's study.

You have no control over competitive cross-bidding, nor can you analyze how your own search campaigns affect competitors'... but we've got your back. As a search engine, we do have the ability to analyze data across multiple advertisers. In this case, we used real data to discover that there is an opportunity cost to not bidding on your own brand terms.

To help you understand whether or not it makes sense to bid on your own brand terms, we analyzed more than 50 million impressions in the financial services vertical. We chose financial services because it's a highly competitive ad marketplace; we honed in on tax advertisers because the competition in that segment gets super-hot between January and April 15.

We looked at three scenarios:

  • Brand ads appearing t the top of search results
  • Brand ads elsewhere on the page (such as the right sidebar)
  • No brand ad on the page

We found that total click yield varied with the presence and placement of a brand ad on the page. For example, with the most prominent ad placement, brand owners gained close to a 90% click yield total (organic and paid), with 50% of clicks attributed to paid results. Even more important, we found that the click yield for a brand's competitive ads increased by close to five times when there was no brand ad on the page, compared to when there was brand ad at the top of search results.

These different studies illustrate the importance of constant fine-tuning of SEM campaigns -- not matter what category your business falls into.

  • Make friends with Bing's free tools that will help you determine the keywords that lead to the best click yield.
  • Understand that the best combination of keywords in ad titles and ad copy vary according to many things, including industry segment and the consumer device used to search.
  • Test your keywords to see what works for your business.

To see how we ran the numbers on brand term advertising, dig into our white paper, "Brand Terms: To Bid or Not to Bid."

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