The Dos And Don’ts Of Competitor Brand Bidding

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When the competition is looming and the board is asking questions, how do you boost your online performance?

The online space is flooded with competition. And getting ahead can be tricky. But putting together a solid plan to bid on your competitors’ search terms could give you the lift you’re looking for.

Here are our dos and don’ts when it comes to bidding on competitor terms, to help you get ahead without succumbing to some common pitfalls.

Let’s start with the dos of competitor bidding...


Consider Trademarking

Trademarking your brand term could give you the upper hand. By trademarking or having an agreement in place for resellers/competitors who want to bid on your brand you are somewhat protected.

The bottom line? If you register a trademark it’s a lot easier for you to prove your ownership. Plus, if a competitor uses a brand that is trademarked in their creative, Google will inevitably resolve the dispute in favour of the brand that is trademarked.

Know Your (Real) Competitors

chess board

Your product set may be similar, but that does not necessarily mean that you are in direct competition. It’s not unusual for large department stores to bid on brands, when they no longer sell their products as they feel they have a similar offering. This can be misleading for users and you are unlikely to see a good, if any, return from doing this.

Pick your competitors carefully and ensure that you have some kind of advantage over them. If you can beat them on stock, price, or delivery costs, then competitive bidding could form an important part of your strategy.

Consider Mobile Users

If users are searching for a brand, are they actually looking for the nearest store location as they are out shopping rather than looking to purchase online?

Even though mobile should form a large part of your online strategy, the user intent when searching for brands on a mobile device is very different to that of users searching at home on desktop. Bidding on competitor brand terms on mobile could be a waste of investment, especially when a user is likely to be out of the research phase and simply looking for a store near their current location.

Know Your USPs

general store shelves

If you’re going to bid on another brand, be sure you have something unique that you can offer a user. Think about brand loyal users as they may be reluctant to switch! If you can offer them something unique, make sure you emphasise it in your creative – it could make all the difference to your position in the race.



Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion

You don’t want competitor brand name searches being pulled through into your ad copy.  For most engines this violates their advertising policies and will also result in a poor-quality score (which will also lead to high CPCs). Make carefully considered choices when it comes to ad copy and bidding on competitors.

Bid On Competitor Keywords (Because You Think You Should)


If you are not seeing a return from bidding on competitor keywords, then it’s probably not a good idea. Building this kind of strategy should be carefully considered, as this is the one of the hardest sells your ads will make.

Remember that you’re trying to convince the user to switch from their favourite brand to your brand. While not impossible, it may not work for your brand. So, if you continue to bid on a brand that is very similar but don’t see any return from the campaign, re-consider your plan – bidding on competitor keywords may not be the right route to take.

Start A War

Bidding on a brand name opens you out to letting that brand also bid on you. Essentially, you’re starting something that could turn into an open invitation for the competition to start pilfering some of your potential sales.

Plus, if both you and a competitor are pushing CPCs on your brand terms it is likely to only result in increased spend and a lower ROI. The paid search team at ClickThrough Marketing have seen this occur with a site who saw brand spend increase by 123% YoY over a peak period and only saw a 19% growth in clicks!

So be smart on how much you push forward with this tactic, as it could result in a very expensive assault on the competition. Before you do anything, ask yourself, is it worth the risk?

Consider The Impact On Your Whole Account


Don’t forget that competitor bidding involves low CTR and low-quality score, which will drive up bids and reduce profitability. Analysing your position in the market, questioning your direct competitors, and deciding how far you can push these tactics should all come well before you start bidding on the competition.

Want further advice on bidding on competitor terms? Our paid search experts can help you decided if a competitive bidding strategy will benefit your brand and your bottom line. Get in touch to discuss your options.

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