Skip to main content

PPC: No need to hijack if you let your brand shine through

18th Sep 2015

I read an article recently covering the controversial topic of bidding on the search terms of your competitors to compete for Paid Search ad space and found myself getting drawn into the debate…

The author was discussing Samsung’s “Awkward, you obviously mean S6” PPC ads which were shown to those searching for “iPhone 6S”. Samsung and Apple have long been fierce rivals - a rivalry that extends to their loyal fan bases – and certainly neither needs to hijack the other’s brand search terms. After all, they’re hardly little-known brands clamouring for advertising space to get their products noticed. This kind of tomfoolery, rough and tumble, is something the two technology giants have been engaging in for a number of years now and is almost certainly done solely for sensationalism and to cause a stir and, in this case, most definitely, mission accomplished.

It got me thinking, though, about smaller brands who do need the advertising space in order to drive brand awareness and ultimately sales. When you’re talking Apple and Samsung it’s all quite amusing but, for these smaller brands, considerably less amusing. Unable to rest with this sense of injustice front of mind, I did what any angry free-thinking individual does with a need to vent nowadays – I got myself on Twitter. Here, I hunted down the writer of said article to give him chapter and verse, characters allowing, on my newfound passionate stance. It even garnered his approval, which you can see here.

A newfound stance it may be, but one that, I believe, comes from good marketing sense and practice. Apple, Samsung and those other big established wigs aside, most brands competing for Paid Search ad space are genuinely, eagerly clamouring to get you to purchase their products over those of their competitors. This requires a quality product, quality placement and promotion for this product (amongst other things). 

Your ads should therefore, ideally, give your brand a platform to speak clearly for itself and to shine through among the competitive mire. Bidding on the branded search terms of competitors is akin to leeching off their popularity. A brand which offers a quality product, that is well-positioned and  promoted effectively, should not need to engage in such activity.

The example of Apple and Samsung’s ongoing back-and-forth advertising spats is simply PR. They don’t need to hijack the other’s search terms to acquire sales – they are merely doing this as part of a series of publicity stunts. Their quality products are world-renowned and speak for themselves and they have loyal brand advocates the world over as a result but their PR machines need something to keep them spinning and so the spats will continue.

If you want to grow your brand and let the world know what you have to offer, there’s no quick fix (providing you wish to operate ethically). You must work hard at acquiring, growing and retaining a loyal customer base. Utilising competitors’ brand search terms is like admitting to yourself that your brand or product is not strong enough to shine through on its own merit. Have a quality product, positioned and promoted effectively, and you have the essential ingredients to spread word of mouth and get your name and products out there.

What are your thoughts on this much-debated topic? Do you agree with my stance or have you got your own take? Get in touch and let me know