Understanding the Need for and Uses of Branded Campaigns for PPC


Alex Corral

Jul 8, 2019


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Search Engine Marketing

Usually, when we talk about setting up pay-per-click ad campaigns, we think about reaching our potential customers using the keywords they're searching for. The keywords that we choose depends heavily on what we are selling.

In that scenario, we always think our ads will appear in the first or (at worst) second place in the search results if we are running our ads properly.

But what happens when our customers are searching for us, using our brand name? Where do we expect to be on the results page?

Do we expect to be in the organic listings only?

And if we do, are we aware that there are more paid ads in the SERP today, meaning our brand may not even be in the overall top spot when customers google it?

With the constant SERP changes, positions can change overnight. It's good to have a strategy to rely on a steady source of traffic.

Branded campaigns provide precisely that: they're paid ads for search terms and keywords containing our brand's name. With them, we make sure that we're always in the absolute top spot when our customers want to find us.

There are also a few more benefits to consider when we talk about branded campaigns.

Why You Should Use Branded PPC Campaigns

1) Getting more control over the messages, we send out

Let's say a prospect searches for our brand – "Sox."

The prospect conducts a branded search and finds our homepage in the organic listing. Maybe it'll be a category page. In any case, it's not a page that actively stimulates them to make a purchase.

Having a branded paid ad means that we can direct our leads to landing pages. Once there, we can encourage them to purchase with urgency, a discount, or something else created to turn them into customers as soon as possible. This is especially important if we have a promotion running.

We should keep in mind that people who are actively searching for our brand name are also more likely to become our customers. They're high-quality leads, they've been made aware of our brand (either through paid search, organic listings, or social media), and all it takes is a push to help them go through with the purchase.

Creating Branded Search Landing Pages

Do you remember the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino? It was a time-limited promotion that Starbucks ran back in 2017.

With a branded ad campaign, Starbucks was able to run paid ads targeting and directing (potential) customers searching for the brand to try out the Unicorn Frappuccino.

You can imagine what that did to the Gen Z audience. There were over 15,000 posts with a hashtag #UnicornFrappuccino on Instagram.

Or better yet: Lego with The Lego Movie. This was a prime example of content marketing. Everyone searching for it could've been directed to the Lego landing page where they'd be prompted to buy a toy.

2) Take out the competition

In the business world, everyone's trying to one-up the competition. You don't have to look farther than McDonald's and Burger King.

Our competitors are bidding on our brand terms to "steal" our leads. Our organic result may be the first among the organic results – but what if our competitor's ad has the top spot?

We all know that 64.6% of people click on ads first.  

Now, if we're actively bidding on our brand terms, we can prevent that from happening.

Bidding on branded terms is usually very cheap (especially for us as a brand – our quality scores are much higher). Not only are we improving our conversion rates – we're also disabling the competition from stealing our spotlight.

3) Going with Google's flow

Google recently started working on a new patent: "Combining Content with Search Results." This means they're improving the search results by combining organic and paid content to provide the best experience for searchers.

And if we have both high organic quality scores and run a paid branded campaign, Google can combine the results to provide customers with a mixed content result.

Investing in branded campaigns in this way means optimizing not only for today but for the future, as well.

4) Better leads and shorter conversion time

We already talked about the quality of leads that are conducting branded searches, but how does that factor into our conversion rates?

If we look at the typical buyer's journey, we can see three stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision

The leads that we're getting through branded campaigns are going to be at step two or step three. They're already aware of our brand, and there's no need to educate them, unlike leads we're getting through generic terms.

All we need to do is understand the unique needs of different lead segments at that stage, and push them towards conversion.

Volkswagen does this well with its Volkswagen Atlas "America" commercial. Families love their cars, and emotion is always an excellent purchase stimulator.

5) Mix & match branded and general advertising campaigns

To put it: general advertising campaigns drive traffic, but branded campaigns close the deal. We can bid on general terms to make potential leads aware of our site and bid on branded terms to turn them into customers.

Setting up a Branded Campaign the Right Way

There are a few steps to take to make branded campaigns work:

  1. Check the search terms which trigger our general campaigns to make sure we're not competing against ourselves.
  2. Compare the search terms that trigger our general campaigns with the search terms that (will) trigger our branded campaigns.
  3. Add negative keywords to make sure we're not getting the wrong kind of audience.
  4. Take a look at the Target Impression Share Bid strategy to help optimize your bids.

The only thing we should be using for our branded campaigns is our brand terms – our company name, our product name, and similar. General terms are best left for other campaigns, as we want to keep the bid low.

Bid on Your Brands: Bid on Your Creativity

We need branded campaigns because our customers want to rely on us.

But that doesn't mean we can't have fun in the process.

It's much easier to do interesting things to draw the attention of our leads once they're aware of our brand, just like Starbucks did with Unicorn Frappuccino, or Volkswagen with Volkswagen Atlas.

Once customers know what we're technically all about, it's time to have some fun. And that's the real conversion booster.

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