The science of brand bidding: Follow-up and FAQs

The pros and cons of bidding on your own brand terms can keep you running in circles. On one hand, bidding on your own brand terms could be a waste of money if your organic results are showing up anyway. On the other, what do you lose (or, what’s the cost) when you don’t invest in bidding on your brand terms?

The data scientists at Bing Ads wanted answers on the brand-term bidding question, so they created tests, conducted the study and compiled the data. Led by Lars Hirsch, our Director of Advertiser Science at Bing Ads, we recently hosted a webinar that detailed the research results and explained the consequences to advertisers who choose to bid on their own brand terms – and likewise, the consequences if you do not. Not only that, we shared how you can run this test with your own data so you too can answer the bid or not to bid question.

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As promised, we’re answering questions we didn’t have time to get to during the webinar and including a quick recap of the most popular questions. If you’d like to share other thoughts or have more questions tell us in the comments or use #AskBingAds on social to join the conversation.

Right. Let's get to it.

Q. The SEO team discourages bidding on brand terms because they will negatively affect organic traffic for brand queries. How do I determine if paid brand keywords are cannibalizing organic traffic?

A.  When it comes to brand-term bidding, partnering with your SEO team is important. Your SEO team needs to know what keywords you’re bidding on and you need to know what terms they’re optimizing for. So this is a great time to work together. Start by sharing our research results and vertical data, found in the webinar content. Then set up your own test (instructions also in the presentation) and share the results. The data doesn’t lie; we suspect your gain in total clicks across organic and paid search as a result of bidding on your own brand terms will convince the SEO team that it’s a good strategy to try. If you don’t see significant increase in total clicks (across your organic and paid results), then brand-term bidding might not work well for you.

Q.  Wait. Are competitors allowed to bid on my business name?

A.  You bet they are. And you can bid on theirs. This policy varies a bit by market; take a closer look at our intellectual property policy and other editorial policies. Note that you can bid on their name with keywords; you cannot use competitor’s names in your ad copy (some rare exceptions can apply).

Q.  How is the brand ad data affected when there is a news story about the company brand?

A.  It depends on your brand and on how national the news story is. If you are testing brand ads by geography (rather than by day of week), and the news story is national, both your control and your test should be equally affected. If the news story is local (say, in Boston) and you’re running tests in Boston and Chicago, then the Boston news story will skew your results and you might want to exclude the results from both Boston and Chicago. If you’re testing brand terms by day of week, and a news story affects just one day disproportionately, you might want to exclude that day from the dataset.

Q.  I’d love to see how other industries/verticals fare in the brand bidding testing. Do you have any of these results available?

A.  To date we’ve published our research data in the financial services, retail and travel industries. If you have a Bing Ads account manager, ask to see our data for your specific vertical.

Q. What if there is nobody advertising for my brand terms?

A.  In this case, your risk from competitors is low, but the research shows that you’d still benefit from an increase in total clicks by running brand ads and bidding on your own brand terms. Take a look at the real data examples below: when the social network brand added a brand campaign the number of clicks increased even without the presence of a competitors ad.

 bing ads brand terms

Q.   Does it matter if your business is local and effectively targets customers within a five to ten-mile radius, such as gymnastics or martial art schools?

A.   With local businesses, running the tests based on geography doesn’t make sense, but testing on a day-of-week basis does. Set up and run the day of week test and then review your results. You may not be dealing with the competition that a bigger brand would, but you still have an opportunity to increase the totally number of clicks you receive, according to our research.

Q.  What if your brand is not in the top three in organic search? Does this still help?

A.   Yes. If you’re not showing on the first search results page organically, the only way you’re going to get clicks for your business is to do paid search. Paid search gives you the power to show up as high as your budget (and ad quality) allow. A paid campaign can help support the rank improvement of your organic listings as a result of adjustments you’ll have to make in order to have a high performing paid campaign: landing page optimization, keyword research, ad copy refinement and testing.

Q.  In your testing, did you look at exact match brand, or brand-broad and brand plus modifier?

A.   Our research looked at all ads aggregated across all match types.     

Q. To clarify, those competitor organic clicks had brand identification?

A. Yes they did.

Q. How did competitor's get 39% of the clicks in the travel example? Weren't the keywords trademarks so competitor's couldn't bid?

A. You cannot use trademarked terms in your ad copy, but you can bid on those keywords.

Q. What is an average impression share a brand receives when brand ads are not being displayed?

A. We only looked at click share, not impression share. The average click share is 75%, but it varies a lot by vertical and type of advertiser/product. For example, for some retail brands we have seen click share in the 35-40% range when the brand owner is not advertising.

Q. My company's brand name does not lend to recognition for our product line but in fact is competitive with a comedian who has an ongoing show in Las Vegas. What can we do to be competitive but not at a high CPC? Do you have any suggestions for testing keywords?

A. Your best bet is going to be using negative keywords, which will prevent your ad from showing on terms related to the comedian. For example, -LasVegas, -comedian and -show will go a long way to preventing your ad from showing on a search that's not yours. For keyword research and testing, give Bing Ads Intelligence a try.

What's next?

Check out the webinar if you missed it and get the content to help you set up and run your own brand bidding test. Once you have your results make sure to act on them and implement!

Watch the webinar

Brand Bidding content

Don’t miss out on our next Advertiser Science webinar! You can register now:

Register: The Kevin Bacon Approach to Keyword Attribution

Date: February 29, 2016

Time: 11:00am-12:00pm PST

We’re excited to share more research and insights from Bing Ads and to hear your thoughts in the comments and at #AskBingAds.

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