If you’ve managed a PPC campaign before you’ve no doubt heard this question: “Why are we be bidding on branded keywords? We’re ranked #1″. Sometimes we’ll just get a directive when marketers think they’re being smart “Once we’re ranked #1, we’ll stop spending money on these keywords”. On the surface this seems to make sense; if you’re already ranked #1, why would you pay for the same keyword?
We’ve answered this question over and over again. Every situation calls for it’s own solution and you should test to find the answer for you, but by and large we’ve found that buying branded keywords in PPC is a good idea. Here’s all my thoughts on it. Buckle your seatbelt.
1. If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It
A properly managed PPC campaign is being managed and optimized to a performance goal that supports a business goal. All keywords and ads are measured against that goal. It’s pretty simple – if a keyword is supporting the goal by helping the campaign meet or beat the performance goal, then leave it in there. If it’s not helping the campaign perform, then get rid of it.
Sometimes though, you don’t know whether something is broken or not until you test it. I absolutely encourage you to test whether or not having branded keywords in your campaign is effective, but that judgement should be made based on data.
2. The Power of PPC Ads and Organic Listings on the Same Page
Don’t like my argument above? Then let’s look at some data. NYU’s Stern School of Business did a study in late 2009 called: “Analyzing the Relationship between Organic and Sponsored Search Advertising: Positive, Negative or Zero Interdependence?” [Links to a PDF] Don’t worry you don’t have to read it or interpret the numbers – I did it for you. Here’s a breakdown of a couple key findings:
Click Through: Combine SEO + PPC for Best Results
Conversion: Combine SEO + PPC for Best Results
True, this study isn’t directly addressing branded keywords, but it does address the search results landscape. Having a PPC ad and an organic result on the same page improves performance. My assertion is that this applies to branded keywords just like it would any other keyword in your campaign. In our view – you HAVE to include brand keywords in your PPC campaign as a baseline. You can always test the impact of not having brand keywords, but if my job is to make the PPC campaign perform – I’m going to hedge my bets and include branded keywords in my PPC campaign.
3. Branded PPC Supports the Conversion Funnel
If your campaign is firing on all cylinders then PPC will be reaching users all along the conversion path with the right message at the right time. This includes the final stage of the funnel where conversion/purchase/vendor selection happens. Sometimes people just want directions or a phone number. Why not use a PPC ad and take the opportunity to make that next step a little easier? That makes your brand look a little more helpful.
PPC Across the Conversion/Sales Cycle
4. Defend Your Turf
5. Control the Message and the Link
6. Quality Score
So there you have it, our thoughts on the role that brand keywords play in your PPC campaign. What did I miss? What did I get wrong? What are your experiences with branded PPC? Leave a comment.
More Resources – Don’t Just Take Our Word For It