Paid Search Branded Campaigns: Effective or Excessive?

Every paid search campaign we build seems to elicit the same response.  No matter who the client is—a small local business, or a fortune 500 company—every client questions whether our campaigns should include branded keywords and ads.  In other words, should the campaign target keywords that include the company name and similar iterations?

We understand the client’s skepticism because paid search is often being used as a vehicle to gain visibility on search terms that otherwise organically fail to rank.  Branded terms, of course, typically have the strongest organic visibility.  So, let us reiterate the age old question from our clients and ask, why add a paid advertisement to a search results page that is almost guaranteed to have a first position organic listing?

In our experience paid branded ads have multiple benefits:

  • Competition – Displaying branded ads can be viewed as a defensive mechanism to protect against competitors usurping prized positions on branded keywords.  Stated differently, a company should never be in a position where a competitor is the first ad/listing the user sees on the page.
  • Real Estate – With all of the ad extensions now available, paid search ads can take up some pretty impressive real estate on the results page.  Depending on the level of competition on branded keywords, it is entirely possible to dominate 100% of the above-the-fold results with a paid advertisement and first position organic listing.
  • Psychological Effects – There have been numerous studies performed showing that when search results contain both a paid listing and an organic listing a user is far more likely to click-through to your website.  The two channels are proven to work symbiotically, and enhance your site’s credibility.
  • Cost – Ultimately, the inclusion of branded terms in a paid search advertising campaign comes down to cost-benefit.  Cost-per-click bids on branded terms are typically very affordable.  Consequently, total cost incurred on branded terms should make-up only a small portion of an overall paid advertising budget.

So, to offer a conclusive answer to our clients—we include branded keywords in your campaigns because it is the best thing for your campaigns.  Bidding on branded queries allows us to protect against competition, dominate above-the-fold results, and improve the credibility of your site; and all this can be accomplished within a very affordable budget.