News & Insights


Bidding on Competitors’ Brand Terms in AdWords

pwd staff OLIVER WOOD
Oliver Wood

|14th April 2016

salesforce-google-searchAdWords is an excellent marketing channel to increase brand awareness.

Billions of search queries are processed every single day. Advertising with AdWords exposes your brand to a global audience searching for keywords relevant to the products or services you offer. The end result is an ad campaign that drives highly targeted traffic to your landing pages.

But this platform can also be incredibly costly as practically every industry has companies competing for the same traffic. In fact, the amount you pay per click with AdWords is largely determined by competition. The more advertisers there are bidding for the same terms, the more that each click costs.

So how can you boost the performance of your campaigns in a crowded and competitive industry?

Brand bidding.

Bidding on competing brand terms can ultimately add more revenue to your bottom line. Those looking for the products or services of your competitors may also be interested in your offer.

These types of keywords are attractive for the following reasons:

  • Less competition: Surprisingly, some companies neglect to bid on their own brand terms. These keywords are often cheaper to bid on due to the lower competition. In some cases your ad could even outrank your competitor’s site.
  • Brand awareness: One way to increase brand awareness is to bid on competitors’ brand terms. Your ads display in the search results when consumers search for products or services from a competing brand.
  • More sales: You can potentially convert more visitors especially if your offer is more attractive. Your ad will need to clearly outline a unique sales proposition (USP) that illustrates why your company is the better choice.

Some of the largest companies in the world engage in brand bidding.

Here are some examples:

Tech Gadgets: iPad


No surprise here that Apple ranks in the top position. The phrase “iPad” undoubtedly gets a significant amount of search traffic but two other companies are also bidding on that same phrase. If you were looking for a deal on your next tablet, you might be more inclined to click on the third ad.

Key takeaway: Bidding on product keywords can help increase visibility and even drive search traffic to your own landing pages.

Sports Wear: Skechers


It is not uncommon for retailers to bid on competing brand names. Searching for Skechers brings up two ads from Brand House Direct and Myer. In this case searchers need to actually scroll further down the page to see Skechers’ home page. This is an example of why it’s a good idea to bid on your own company name as competitors can push your page down the results with their own ads.

Key takeaway: Bid on competing brand names within your industry to increase visibility of your own page and potentially convert those visitors.

Software: SalesForce

Even software giants compete with each other for top ad positions. SalesForce and Zoho are both bidding on the term “SalesForce”. SalesForce is ranking in the top position for that term but the “Free Unlimited Access headline for Zoho’s ad is much more appealing to those looking for CRM software, potentially taking customers away from SalesForce. Surprisingly SalesForce is not bidding for the term “Zoho”.

Effective Brand Bidding Strategies

Bidding on competing brand terms can be extremely profitable and it can apply to any industry based. Before engaging in brand bidding, here are some effective strategies to generate better results for your campaign:

●      Review your Quality Score: It is entirely possible for a competing business to rank higher for your own brand terms. Review your Quality Score and take steps to improve ad positions if a competing business is ranking higher. Experiment with different ad copy to increase click through rates.

●      Use ad monitoring: AdWords provides invaluable information through its ad-monitoring feature. Here you can see competitors who are bidding on your terms by country, state, city, and even ZIP code. This tells you who else is competing for the same terms.

●      Take advantage of sitelink extensions: Sitelinks show links to additional pages on your site beneath the text ad. Another advantage of this extension is that it pushes competing sites farther down the page as seen in the SalesForce example.

●      Report violations: Competitors can use your brand name in the display URL but not in the ad copy. Monitor your brand name keywords or use the ad monitoring platform to detect and report violations.


Bidding on brand terms can be a very profitable endeavour for your PPC campaign. It can help increase brand awareness and drive more potential customers to your landing pages. But competing companies can also bid on your brand terms as well and even rank high than your site. Keep a close eye on your brand keywords and make efforts to boost the positions of those ads in the search results.