Should You Invest in Competitor Brand Bidding?

Competitor brand bidding – healthy competition, a smart business step or a dangerous move? Take a look as we detail both sides of the story.

Competitor brand bidding is perfectly acceptable according to Google Ads (and legal).

Put plainly, competitor brand bidding is bidding on the brand terms of a competitor, so your ad appears on search results when their brand is entered by a user as a search term. Take a look at the example below from Google’s search results for the brand Trello – both Asana and have bid on the brand name to have their ads displayed.

Competitor Brand Bidding

When executed and managed correctly, competitor brand bidding can be an effective strategy to boost your PPC campaigns. Since, if someone is directly searching for your competitor and they have similar products or services to you, then it makes sense they might be interested in your brand.

Although, when done incorrectly, competitor brand bidding campaigns can burst into flames and leaves brands in a worse place than they started.

Before taking the plunge and bidding on your competitor’s brand names, first try answering the 3 questions:

  1. 1. Are they bidding on your brand? Just because you don’t bid on your competitor’s name doesn’t mean they don’t do it to you.
  2. 2. Are you willing to make them cross? Chances are if you bid on your competitor’s brand name, they’re going to get irritated.
  3. 3. Are you ready for a retaliation? Bidding on other brand’s names can be considered a direct attack and they’ll probably fight back by bidding on yours.

Is It Time Google Changed Their Policy?

Jason Fried, Founder & CEO of Basecamp, took to Twitter to vent his frustration with Google for allowing other companies to bid on his brand name (Basecamp).

The Basecamp boss makes an important point – putting a stop to competitive ads would help businesses generate relevant organic traffic without forking out for clicks. After all, in 2018, Google’s ad revenue amounted to almost 116.3 billion US dollars. While we don’t know the exact amount competitive search ads make Google, we’re pretty certain they can afford banning advertising bidding on each other’s direct brand names.

It’s worth mentioning you cannot bid on Google’s trademarks as keywords.

In response to the Tweet, Google wrote:

Google Ads’ comeback tweet has raised some eyebrows, with a few Twitter users pointing out that it is irrelevant for ads to be shown for a different brand than the one the user search for.

We do have to remember, however, that Google is a business and competitor brand bidding generates them revenue.

Do Competitor’s Bid on Your Brand Name?

Looking to fight back? Get in touch with Different Gravy Digital for a free, no obligation consultation:

Book a meeting:

Telephone: 0161 706 0004


3 Pros of Competitor Brand Bidding

1. You Face Less Competition

Generally speaking, brand names usually have a lower cost-per-click (CPC).

Usually the competition isn’t as tough (except from the competitor brand you’re bidding on) and there will often be fewer advertisements compared to generic search terms about products / services.

2. Increased Brand Awareness

As we said at the beginning, if a searcher is looking for your competitor then they will probably be interested in what you offer too.

If your brand is less well known than the competitor you’re bidding on, it can be a clever tactic to raise your business’s profile and place yourself as an alternative brand.

However, for this to work, your ads must be engaging and well branded while clearly displaying why they should choose your brand and why what you offer is better than your competitor’s.

To learn more about writing effective ad copy, you can visit our previous blog post: The Importance of Writing Engaging Ad Copy

3. Qualified Traffic

If the competitor brand name you’re choosing to bid on has similar / the same products or services as you, then the traffic you generate is likely to all be from a qualified audience.

Every searcher who is looking for your competitor’s brand is also a part of your ideal customer – and every conversion you achieve is a point for you and not your competitor.

3 Cons of Competitor Brand Bidding

1. Poor Results

A user searching for ‘Basecamp’ is probably interested in visiting the official Basecamp website. Even brand sells similar or better products / services, the searchers intent is strong and it’s pretty clear they know who they’re looking for.

Competitor brand bidding can have dismal clicks. The effect of having a poor click-through-rate could cause you to get a lower quality score which boosts the cost of your clicks.

2. Retaliation

A serious weakness of competitor brand bidding is that you’re openly inviting your competition to bid on your brand name and to start stealing traffic from you.

The performance impact your ads are having on your competitor (less website traffic, lower impression shares and decreased click-through-rate) may also occur for you if your competitor fires back.

3. Getting Your Brand in Legal Trouble

There are important policies to remember here:

  • – Use of registered trademarks (i.e. a brand name) as keywords is allowed
  • – Use of registered trademarks in ads is not allowed

If your competitor brand bidding is done incorrectly it could cause legal implications. So, make sure you’re up to speed with Google’s advertising policies, which you can read here.

Should Your Business Bid on Competitor Brand Name?

The answer is it depends.

When a competitor brand bidding campaign is successful, it can deliver excellent results that boost the performance of a business.

Looking to Fight Back Against the Competition?

For many businesses, it can be a bit of two-edged sword. It can generate excellent results but can also run you into trouble further down the road.

Need some help beating the competition to website traffic on Google Ads? Different Gravy Digital are equipped with the skills and resources to put you ahead of the rest.

Get in touch for a free, no obligation consultation:

Book a meeting:

Telephone: 0161 706 0004