Win with Keywords

By: Micah Donahue   |  March 28, 2017

Clients of Mechanica’s Brand Engagement Strategy practice often ask whether we recommend targeting their competitor’s brand names with paid search. Google allows this practice, surely due to the revenue generated. (For the curious marketing nerds among us, read more here about how Google will investigate trademark infringement in search ads, but not in search keywords.)

Competitive keyword targeting can be an effective tactic, but brands entering the ring should be prepared for a brawl. As Mechanica has found and as most consultants agree, competitive keywords are expensive (as much as 10X so) in comparison to topic keywords for a number of reasons:

– The brand you’re targeting may also be bidding on their own brand name (a common and effective practice), driving up bids

– The competitive brand’s relevance score will be much higher. So when Google shows their ads they’ll pay less per click (Google rewards relevance with lower winning bids, and vice versa).

– When a user searching for your competitor clicks your ad they may quickly bounce after seeing it’s not who they were expecting. That’s a wasted click cost, and also hurts your quality score due to the quick visit.

If you’ve decided to march forth into battle with competitive keywords, here’s how to do it right. Below is the best example we’ve seen recently. Note these tactics from the below screenshot:

1) Targeting a competitor’s brand name as a keyword (in this case, Appster is running a campaign targeting the keyword “raizlabs”)

2) Including the competitor’s name in the ad copy (Appster is using Raiz as the first word, which is a really effective way to get your attention and draw you to click on the ad)

3) Offering content that seems relevant and attractive, here a comparison of Appster vs. Raiz Labs. This is smart because the person searching for Raiz may be open to alternatives and this ad promises a quick way to compare them to another firm in the same space. That said, when we clicked through the ad, the comparo wasn’t nearly as good as it could be. (Appster offered a couple sentences of text and a list of solutions, but not, for example, a chart of “Appster wins against Raiz in all these areas.” Fail!)

Questions about competitive keyword targeting for your brand? Just ask.