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Old 06-22-2004   #1
lmb
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Branded Keywords - Paid Listings vs. Natural Listings

Hello -

I have a client who is questioning the validity of branded keyword paid listings on majore engines, vs. just relying on the natural listings - does anyone have any research supporting paid listing of branded terms over natural listings?

Thank you! Linda
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Old 06-22-2004   #2
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Hi Linda, could you clarify what you mean by "branded keyword paid listings"? Do you mean any PPC ad (like AdWords, Overture, etc.) targeted to a specific search term, one of those scumware patches that let you type in a search term into the IE address bar or something else entirely?

Validity is a strange word. If a PPC campaign has a positive ROI, then it's valid in my book.

Of course, in the long run, effort (whether in-house time or outsourced $$$) and money (one-time directory submissions) spent improving natural listings may yield substantially greater dividends as the benefits last long after the money is spent and the wallet closed.

Both methods can drive targeted traffic.
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Old 06-22-2004   #3
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clarification

Bernard,
Thank you for your response, and I agree - the term validity is vague, but alas, so be our clients!

Here's the story: Sr. Mgt at a major airline that I'm working with is querying why they should PAY for placement for their branded terms (for ex. "American Airlines"), when they feel that the consumer will find them under the natural listings.

I'm looking for research (data) other than qualitative statements, that back up the argument here for paying for placement with branded terms. I've to date not found any data that quantifies the benefit of deriving more traffic, conversions, etc from these placements (for branded terms or other).

Any help (data/studies/case studies/white papers) here would be greatly appreciated.

-Linda
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Old 06-22-2004   #4
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You may be able to find some research on PPC advertising for a term where you have high organic listings, but I don't think I've ever seen anything about advertising on your own brand name.

I can say I do routinely do this on my clients' accounts, just as a safety precaution, as the clicks are cheap and conversion tracking has indicated that they have stellar conversions. Of course, all of that may have come without the click charges, but it just seems to me to be cheap insurance.
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Old 06-22-2004   #5
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OK. That's a bit clearer. Especially if it is United Airlines (but we do not need to discuss that here).

I'm guessing that the airline offers fare booking and that would be what you can measure for ROI. If they have been conducting PPC campaigns for some time now, they should have some data available (assuming they are using a conversion tracking system) to calculate what the ROI is (or isn't) for searches on their brand name. That should offer the only answer they need. Either the ads are generating significantly more revenue than they cost or they aren't. There might be some additional arguments that searches specifically for the brand name would seek the natural listings if the PPC ad was not there. This could easily be tested by comparing traffic levels with and without the PPC ads.

Aside from the ROI, the only possible benefit to running PPC on your own brand name (assuming that you are #1 in natural search listings [which I would assume any airline would be]) would be additional branding opportunities available through content matching syndication (AdSense partners, etc.) where searches are not specifically conducted.
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Old 06-22-2004   #6
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Bernard, excellent point re Content Delivery. In the case of a well-known brand, content delivery is likely to kick in.

Imb, maybe you can redefine the question to make it go away. Sure, there's no research, but what about the content ads that could get delivered -- and at low click costs, too?
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Old 06-23-2004   #7
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I think it was SES in NYC this year, but I saw some data out there that suggests running PPC ads on keywords you are also ranking well in naturally can increase overall click-throughs... 3x.

Anyone remember that one? I want to say it had something to do with Enquiro or iProspect...
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Old 06-23-2004   #8
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The value of bidding on a brand name is huge. I've definitely seen an average of 20% CTRs on popular brand names, and conversions from that point.

Anytime you appear more than once on a SERP, you're creating 'surround sound impact' - while greatly adding to credibility, and increasing the chances of your site getting clicked.
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Old 06-23-2004   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elisabeth
The value of bidding on a brand name is huge. I've definitely seen an average of 20% CTRs on popular brand names, and conversions from that point.
Is this from the brand/trademark owner on SERPs where they occupy the #1 natural listing? If so, does 20% CTR on the PPC ad represent an increase in total traffic from the SERP? Ie. did the PPC ad just divert traffic from the natural listing (paying for what was otherwise free) or did it capture new traffic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elisabeth
Anytime you appear more than once on a SERP, you're creating 'surround sound impact' - while greatly adding to credibility, and increasing the chances of your site getting clicked.
Sounds good in theory. Anyone have some numbers to "prove" it?
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Old 06-23-2004   #10
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a person could do an A/B test by figuring out what the average daily spend for a single word is and then set it up as its own ad group and then cut it in half.

the problem is that to do a meaniful test you would want to do it across many terms and while you are not there your competitors are.
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Old 06-23-2004   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernard
Anyone have some numbers to "prove" it?
Yes.

We have a biopharmaceutical client who ranks #1 for their product brand name.

We started PPC and their overall traffic spiked (of course, we started with lots of non-branded keywords, too) and sales climbed.

ROI tracking showed that non-branded keyword advertising gave them very little return -- so we nixed it (until additional content and customized landing pages are added).

Their traffic fell sharply, but remain above previous levels. CTR on the branded keywords fluctuate between 10%-35%. Their web sales remain more than 100% higher than with organic rankings alone. And the PPC advertising on their brand name earns between 10,000% and 25,000% ROI.

Proportionally, they get more sales from the organic listings, but there's no doubt their overall sales have increased with the branded PPC advertising.

Last edited by haplo : 06-23-2004 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 06-23-2004   #12
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Thanks haplo. Does your client sell their brand name drugs direct from their website? For some reason, I thought that manufacturors could not sell directly over the 'net. Even Tylenol (over the counter/non-prescription) does not sell direct from the their site as far as I can tell.

If they do not sell direct, how are you measuring conversions/ROI?
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Old 06-23-2004   #13
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Bernard, they do sell from their site.

I'm sure they've researched the legality of their business model, though I admit I have not.

They had distribution contracts in place before they launched their own website. After launch, they became the sole distributor.
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Old 06-23-2004   #14
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OK. Then your example fits the expectation. Thanks for sharing. Anyone have a counter-example?
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Old 06-24-2004   #15
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I don't have a counter example, but you could persuade your client to buy its brand in search by explaining to them the fact that it would enable them to send visitors exactly where they want them to go. They could create and constantly rotate through landing pages, continuing to adjust them until they became star converters. You just can't do that with SEO reliably.
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Old 06-24-2004   #16
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hmmm

Quote:
Originally Posted by lmb
Bernard,
Thank you for your response, and I agree - the term validity is vague, but alas, so be our clients!

Here's the story: Sr. Mgt at a major airline that I'm working with is querying why they should PAY for placement for their branded terms (for ex. "American Airlines"), when they feel that the consumer will find them under the natural listings.

I'm looking for research (data) other than qualitative statements, that back up the argument here for paying for placement with branded terms. I've to date not found any data that quantifies the benefit of deriving more traffic, conversions, etc from these placements (for branded terms or other).

Any help (data/studies/case studies/white papers) here would be greatly appreciated.

-Linda
Okay If your company owns the trademarked name then you can restrict the use of it. You will have to find out what the numbers are but fax the copy and they will restrict the use of the trademarked name.
The only way it can be countered is if the advertisers is doing comparisons of prices and services etc. (that's how the weightloss guys got to use WeightWatchers as a term)

But I would suggest you try getting them to pull the term down if it is trademarked. Or even the company name. Google and Overture should give you a little break and then no one advertsies and your position in the organic listings is solid, or should be.
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Old 06-24-2004   #17
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white papers etc.

I sure you could get someone here to bang out a paper... one of the mods etc. But as far as a statistical study that would be hard to pull off... unless it is for a company by themselves... getting the competition to give up numbers would be tough.
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Old 06-24-2004   #18
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Google no longer restricts the use of adwords on others' trademarks. They were successfully sued in France, and so continue to enforce that old rule there and in a few other European countries, but in America, you're free to pay Google to place an ad on anyone else's trademarks. The companies themselves are now left to work out the issues. They changed their position midstream as I was working to stop one of my client's competitors from buying ads on my client's company name.
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Old 06-24-2004   #19
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April 9th Email from Google:

Thank you for your inquiry. I am writing to inform you that we have
recently revised our trademark policy, and in accordance with our new
policy we will not be able to remove the ad using your client's trademark
term as a keyword trigger.

As a provider of space for advertisements, please note that Google is not
in a position to arbitrate trademark disputes between the advertisers and
trademark owners. As stated in our Terms and Conditions, the advertisers
themselves are responsible for the keywords and ad text that they choose
to use. Accordingly, we encourage trademark owners to resolve their
disputes directly with the advertisers, particularly because the
advertisers may have similar advertisements on other sites.

As a courtesy to trademark owners, we previously performed a limited
investigation of reasonable trademark concerns, reviewing both ad text and
keywords. Under the new policy, trademark complaint investigations will no
longer include keywords that are targeted to the U.S. or Canada. As a
result, Google will not attempt to prevent trademarked terms in keywords
from triggering ads in the U.S. or Canada. However, we will continue to
perform a limited courtesy investigation of complaints regarding ad text
purported to be in violation of a trademark, regardless of where the ads
are targeted.

Mods, if this isn't allowed, I apologize in advance and ask that you delete it.
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Old 06-24-2004   #20
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Trademarked keywords

Ive been asked by clients about bidding on competitors trademarked terms and brands and I always advise them to be very careful. I strongly oppose the use of another companies trademarks outside of fair use.

To further a previous example, If Im a Delta Airlines I should not be allowed to buy the phrase "American Airlines" or "Southwest Airlines". Those companies have spent billions of dollars on name and brand recognition and I wouldnt want someone riding on my coat tails to steal a piece of my pie. Its more than liekly that the search user is indeed looking for "American Airlines".

We are more than likely one major lawsuit away from setting an acceptable standard.
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