Should You Bid On Brand Terms?

A much debated topic is whether or not advertisers should bid on their brand terms in paid search.

If your website is ranking highly in the search results for your brand then why on earth should you also spend money bidding on your brand too? Chances are it’s a question you’ve asked.

Bing has just released findings from its analysis of where people click on results for brand searches when brand ads are and aren’t present. The studies related to the travel and retail verticals and were based on data from Dec 2014.

The big question is do clicks go to the brand or a competitor, and is there incremental benefit when brands own both the top ad and organic listings?

Bing’s findings were that when advertisers bid on their brand terms they receive more clicks overall and keep more clicks from going to competitors’ listings on their brand results pages.

You can find detailed presentations from Bing here for the retail and travel studies, but here’s a brief summary.

  • When retail brands only had organic listings showing on search results pages for their brand their top organic listing attracted 60% of the clicks. But when they also had a top ranking ad appearing they got 91% of all clicks.
  • For retail brands the figures were 61% and 88% respectively.
  • So advertising on their brand terms meant significant gains of 31% more clicks for retail brands and 27% more for travel brands.
  • Of course a key question is does bidding on your brand simply divert free traffic to paid clicks?
  • Bing’s data shows there is indeed some cannibalization (11% of retail brand ad clicks & 18% of travel brand ad clicks would have gone to the organic listing). But despite this there’s an overall net increase in clicks received.


  • Bing also looked at the impact brand ads had on keeping users from clicking on other listings. They found that when a retail brand was not running brand ads, 34% of the missed clicks went to other ads & 6% went to other organic listings.


  • The figures were a bit different for the travel vertical with 20% of the missed clicks going to other ads & 19% to other organic listings.

Why should you care?

You may be to be cynical about these findings and consider them self-serving – after all, Bing makes money running PPC ads just like Google. However this isn’t an isolated study showing the synergies that can come from both SEO and PPC.

Certainly our experience having run both SEO and PPC campaigns for many clients over the last 14 years is that bidding on your brand can be a highly beneficial strategy.

Other recent search marketing news:

The latest news about web marketing, SEO, PPC Advertising & Web Analytics. But only the stuff that matters from a New Zealand perspective. Click here to get this delivered to your inbox each Monday.


If you found this useful, please tell your friends.

About the Author Jeremy Templer & Mark Sceats

Jeremy and Mark are two of the partners behind SureFire Search. Despite their deceptively youthful appearances, both have worked in search marketing for many years. To put that in context, Google didn't even exist when Jeremy started.