Google Ads Brand Campaigns - yes or no? And why?
Updated: Jul 14, 2020
Laura Roosenboom, our Head of Digital, receives a lot of questions about online marketing activities these days, with Google as one of the most mysterious channels for many clients. What should they do, how should they make the most of the channel and what about product/generic vs. brand campaigns? In this interview, Laura is going to shed some light on one of the most unclear topic: Google brand campaigns, how they work and what they are good for!
This article requires a little bit of background knowledge on Google Ads, how they work and how to set them up.
At the moment, many of our clients ask me why they should book a brand campaign in addition to the generic campaigns in the Google ads search network, since they appear on first place in the organic search results anyway? Here is some advice:
Google Ads Brand Campaigns vs. Generic Campaigns
First of all: What is the difference?
Generic campaigns serve search queries that do not contain a brand name and focus only on the product or service, such as "order organic vegetables". They aim to gain market share in the company's product category using Google ads. Most of the time, the searchers do not have a brand preference yet or just want to inform themselves first, so they are still at the beginning of the conversion funnel and it makes sense to be present here as much as possible, either to draw attention to your company or to remind people of it.
Brand campaigns, in contrast, contain your own brand name, e.g: "lawsons food" as a keyword. In addition, you can also create a brand + generic ad group in the brand campaign, which covers both variants with a long-tail keyword: " lawsons organic food boxes". Another possibility would be to create an ad group for Brand Misspellings: “lasons food".
Tip: The keyword option should be [exact match] in the misspelling ad group, as broad keywords can trigger an ad even with correct spellings and thus dilute the result. Misspelled keywords are normally really cheap because they have no competition.
Google users who already know your brand and are looking for it specifically have already dealt with the brand and your product and may be about to make a purchase decision soon. These users are far more likely to convert as they are further ahead in their customer journey and should be brought to what they are looking for as quickly as possible without distractions.
But now, why should you use your own brand name in a campaign for Google?
Google Ads Brand Campaigns: Advantages and Disadvantages
1. The assumption that your brand always appears on the first place in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) is only partially correct. Especially if the brand name is very generic, other search results or even ads can occupy the first place. Additionally, your own resellers can appear with their ads in front of your organic search results, because they also bid on your brand keywords.
Tip: Sometimes it is worthwhile to talk to your resellers and agree on a common CPC bid, so that you don't artificially increase each other's click costs.
With a brand campaign, you will emphasize your brand name and thus provide more visibility for your brand, especially if the ad also appears above your organic search results, you will take up a lot of space in the top third of the search results, which is very good for emphasizing and protecting your brand.
2. Since many searches are happening on mobile devices these days, the space for the search results is much smaller. If competitive bids are placed on your brand keywords and the competing ads have e.g. site link extensions, you are organically not visible at first glance without the user having to scroll, which means you can lose clicks, conversions and brand awareness. That's why it would be advisable to push advertisements of the competition to the lower positions with your own brand ad. If your mobile traffic generates the majority of new customers, make sure you are perfectly positioned in the mobile search and leave nothing to chance.
Tip: You can also limit the brand ads to appear on certain devices, such as smartphones or tablets.
3. Brand campaigns are usually very cheap, as there are fewer competitors bidding on the brand keywords than on a generic term such as "organic food". On average a brand campaign should not take up more than 10-15% of your total budget. Your keyword quality factor (provided you have done your SEO homework) should be higher than that of the competition and therefore it should not be a big problem to get the top position in the SERPs with a low CPC.
Tip: For brand campaigns, always work with manual CPCs if possible, because in my experience you can let the brand CPCs drop very low and still achieve 100% search query coverage with a top position. For example, one of my brand campaigns has an average CPC of 0.03 € and costs between 25-35 € per month, which is definitely worth the branding effect.
4. Site link extensions: Here you can adapt different topics very quickly and flexibly and also communicate news in a way that is adjusted to your goal, e.g. sales: "Order organic food - 5% spring discount". The customers can see it directly at a glance and choose which of the links you offer is most likely to lead them to where they can satisfy their needs. Depending on the performance, you can also put product top sellers, vouchers, sale categories etc. in the sitelinks and change them as you like and when you need it. The sitelinks of your organic search result on the other hand are hard to influence and you need a good hand for SEO to make long term adjustments here, because the search engine generates these sitelinks automatically.
5. Brand campaigns usually have an above average CTR (click-through-rate) which can lead to the whole Google Ads account being uplifted by the brand campaign. This can also have a positive effect on the quality score of the generic campaigns and decrease their costs.
6. Cross-channel synergies can be measured very well with a brand campaign, for example, if you have another campaign on a different channel such as a big social media feature, Out of Home placement or even a TV spot. In this case, you can see very well whether the brand awareness has increased by a peak of search queries and klicks for the brand name in your brand campaigns.
Tip: If you are planning bigger campaigns on other channels, make sure you increase your daily budget for your brand campaign so that all additional search requests can be met.
1. Tracking and result dilution between paid search and organic, as many users search specifically for the brand name and click directly on the first result for pure convenience, which in this case is the Google brand ad and thus the conversion will be assigned to paid search.
Without the brand ad, users would probably have clicked on the organic result (assuming it appears on the first place in the SERPs) and an assignment to organic traffic would provide a more accurate way to evaluate your channel performance. The brand campaign usually achieves very good results, which iis not really fair because a generic google campaign has to perform a lot more to convert by beating the competition and gaining market share without your brand being known to the person searching.
2. Even though CPCs are low, there is a cost for each click on a brand ad, which could either be saved or shifted to generic campaigns.
The advantages of brand campaigns outweigh the disadvantages by far, and I would always create a brand campaign when setting up a new account, to see how the brand search queries develop and to accompany or strengthen other campaigns.
If you don't show up as the first search result - then someone else is most likely to appear, and that brand will then pick up your traffic and conversions!