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Paid Brand Search During COVID-19 and Beyond: Is It Worth It?

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to change the marketing landscape the need to evaluate where marketing dollars are going is more important than ever. One area that often comes under scrutiny is Paid Brand Search. Even in the best of times, the decision to run a paid brand search campaign can depend largely on the competitive landscape and name recognition of your brand. But regardless of the level of conquesting seen on your branded terms, there is always a value to running some degree of branded search. Benefits of running brand include:

  1. Brand Protection: It is a no brainer that if someone searches for your brand, you want to be the first thing at the top of the SERP. There is nothing stopping your competitors from bidding on your brand’s keywords. To keep a close eye on this behavior the smartest tactic is to run your own branded search campaign. Although a competitor may not be currently bidding on your branded terms, running your own branded campaign allows you to monitor that behavior using the auction insights feature. Also, just because a competitor is not directly bidding on your keyword does not mean their ad won’t show up on more long-tail keywords that may include your brand name.  
  2. Trend Insights: Running brand also helps to identify trends in search around your brand name. This is when running a broad match modifier campaign is particularly important. For example, if there is suddenly an increase in search terms around “brand name service” this is an indication that this new product may require its own ad group. Or if there is an increase in search terms “brand name refund” this could alert you to an issue with the product or service you are providing.   
  3. Increased Traffic and CTR: According to Google, running paid brand campaigns increases clicks to the site over just running organic. This is because these ads allow your brand to take up additional space on the search results. This is especially important on mobile devices, as the user is less likely to scroll down to find other results.  For example, in the below screenshots a search for ‘vonage’ resulted in an ad that takes up 100% of the page. Even if the user scrolls down the organic listing would also take up 100% of the page. This increases the amount a user would have to scroll to get to a competitor. 

 Keeping all of this in mind, it is imperative that campaigns are working at their full potential. Paid Brand campaigns have the ability to help ride the wave of the constantly changing COVID-19 marketing landscape. Additional benefits to running paid brand campaigns are customizations and testing:  

  1. The customizability of Ad Copy: During COVID-19 brand messaging may need to change rapidly. Running branded search allows for customizable ad copy to be the first message users see when they search for your brand. Whether it’s advertising a promotional deal or addressing a change in policy this is a quick way to get the brand message out there with quick turnaround times (Google ad approval process typically is less than 24 hours.) 
  2. Dedicated Sitelink Extension: Customizable sitelink extensions are also helpful during the current crisis. Currently, many brands have thought out, dedicated responses to the COVID-19 that they have shared on their website. If your business is in a vertical that is directly affected by COVID, which is most, you may want to consider dedicating a sitelink extension to your brand’s response page to convey to your customers that you are taking the crisis seriously. 
  3. Landing Page Testing: Another benefit of running paid brand campaigns is the ability to test. Brand traffic does not need to be driven to the homepage. With consumer trends changing as a result of COVID-19, it is more important now than ever to continue testing. The landing page experience that worked the best prior to COVID-19 may no longer be strongest. This crisis may require brands to pivot to another part of their business. If there are landing page experiences that have higher conversion rate (greater than 10%) why not send traffic there?  

When evaluating your overall marketing strategy it is important not to overlook the importance of branded paid search campaigns. In addition to brand protection, insights into brand search trends, and increased traffic, brand search campaigns can also help to shape your messaging with customizations and testing. Make sure every marketing dollar counts with the high intent/bottom of funnel tactic during COVID-19 and beyond.   


-Andrea Duffy-Cabana, Search Analyst at Direct Agents

If you have any questions – or would like to learn more, please reach out to Marketing@directagents.com

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