Vanity Ads: Building Brand Recognition Through Branded Search Terms

Vanity Ads: Building Brand Recognition Through Branded Search Terms

Should you bid on your own company name for paid search advertising? It’s a tactic many businesses have employed, and an idea that many more have entertained. There is value to running branded PPC campaigns. Whether it’s the right move for your business depends on what stage of the lifecycle your company is in, the type of products or services you sell, the nature of your audience and other factors.

The argument against branded search advertising

There are some marketers who say paying for your own brand name as a keyword is utterly ridiculous. Why? Theoretically, it should be pretty easy to rank at the number one spot in Google for your own company name, right? How many other companies operate under the same name as yours? (Hopefully, the answer to that question is none. Or at least one or two random out-of-state similarities.)

The other compelling reason not to bid on your brand name is simply that if a searcher already knows your company name, and they’re already looking for your website, they’re already specifically seeking you out. The idea of paying for an ad when the customer is already partially through the sales cycle seems rather wasteful.

Reasons to consider bidding on your brand name

There are some equally compelling reasons to consider biting the bullet and bidding on your own company name, as well. First and foremost, Google loves relevance. The odds are slim to none it would ever consider another business more relevant to your brand name than yours. So you’re practically guaranteed premier placement when it comes to scoring those ads, so whether searchers eyes are drawn to the ad blocks or to the organic results, you’re in the prime position regardless.

Something else to consider is that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that your competitors are bidding on your brand name. Think about it: If you’ve got killer brand recognition, why wouldn’t a competitor want to take a chance at stealing a piece of your pie? If they offer the same services or sell the same products, it’s possible that they could swipe a few searchers looking specifically for your business with a fantastic PPC ad with a can’t-refuse offer. You don’t want to leave that door open to your competition.

Users who are searching for your brand name are already one step closer to conversion. They know you, they’ve heard about you or are at least familiar with your brand. Sure, there are a few tire-kickers who are maybe searching for your brand just to figure out what everyone’s talking about (because all your customers are clearly signing your praises), but many are ready to buy or just need a little more convincing from your rockstar landing pages.

Finally, if you’re bidding on your own brand name, you’ll likely have a high click-through-rate (CTR) for that term. The user searches, sees your ad-which is precisely what they were looking for-and bingo, they click. They’re happy, you’re happy, and Google’s happy because it just made a couple bucks off of something that didn’t require a whole lot of pseudo-brain power for its algorithm to come up with.

When your CTR is high, your cost-per-click (CPC) is lower. So you’re not going to be spending the usual CPC rates that you pay for other highly competitive terms when you run a vanity campaign. That makes the idea of handing Google a few bucks for something that required minimal effort on its part slightly less painful.

The opposite end of the spectrum: Running a brand-recognition campaign

This whole concept is different from what you’d normally think of when you think of a vanity or branded ad campaign, or running an ad campaign to build brand recognition among your audience. Other times, brands may want to run a PPC campaign just for the purpose of reaching the level of brand recognition where users will start to associate your company name with your niche.

For this type of campaign, the messaging doesn’t necessarily include call-to-action (CTA). Instead, your ad messaging may include a tagline for a new seasonal campaign you’re ramping up or core messaging about your company. The goal isn’t necessarily to get a click, even, but to cement that messaging and make a clear tie between your company’s name and the products or services you sell, the industry you serve, or some other facet in which you need strong recognition.

These branding campaigns are also subject to some criticism, primarily because the ROI isn’t clearly measurable. There’s no way to tell exactly how many sales resulted from a $10,000 brand awareness campaign, for instance. But you can tell whether a branding campaign is working if you’re able to ascertain an increase in organic clicks for terms where you rank well organically or you see an uptick in direct referrals.


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