What is brand bidding?

(also known as trademark bidding or PPC brand bidding)

PPC brand bidding involves bidding for brand terms of a third-party, usually a competitor so that people who type in those brand terms will be directed to your site instead of the competitor.

For example, if you search for "wordpress", you might get the Bluehost ad as the first result. This strategy effectively steals visitors who're interested in WordPress hosting, but on wordpress.com itself:

Discover competitor bidding on your brand

Competitors use this strategy to grab traffic from other sites by placing ads pointing to their websites.

While this might seem like an unfair way to attract new customers (in some cases, it is!), there are some excellent use cases too. One of them is called brand bidding affiliate marketing. When you're doing affiliate campaigns, you can bid for specific keywords and brands so that your affiliates' sites appear higher up in search results. That's a win-win scenario for both you and another brand, as you're still selling their products. However, process this with caution, as not all affiliate partners would like this strategy.

What is trademark bidding?

It's the same as brand bidding. The only difference is that you bid on trademarked keywords. For example, if you're selling Nike's shoes, you can bid on "Nike shoes" keywords. However, you can't bid on "Nike" itself, as it's a trademarked term.

Is brand bidding legal?

In most cases - yes. But the better answer is - it depends.

  • You can't bid on your competitor's trademarks.

    Brand bidding can potentially infringe on trademark laws if an affiliate uses a company's trademarked terms without permission in a manner that may confuse consumers as to the source or sponsorship of the goods or services offered. If such use leads to consumer confusion, it could be considered trademark infringement. However, the application of trademark law in online advertising, especially in keyword bidding, can vary by jurisdiction and specific case circumstances.

  • You don't want to insult them or add unfair claims/misleading facts.

    Insulting a competitor or making misleading claims about their products or services can lead to legal challenges. Many jurisdictions have stringent laws regarding false advertising, defamation, and the disparagement of competitors' goods or services. This can result in costly lawsuits, fines, and damage to your brand reputation.

  • But you can bid on their non-trademarked keywords.

So it's legal to use your competitor's name as a keyword if you check the trademark first. You can also bid on competitor keywords, slogans, or catchphrases, as long as they're non-protected too.

"No-harm" brand bidding for e-commerce example

There are some good reasons why you should bid on brand keywords. For example, if you have an eCommerce store, you could bid on branded keywords such as "Nike sneakers" or "Adidas shoes". These words are highly competitive, but they're also trendy among shoppers. People searching for these terms probably have buying intent so it might be worth it.

Why bid on brand terms?

Let's see the "sneaky" brand bidding for SAAS example. You could bid on your direct competitor's brand name + high buying intent keyword if you’re running SAAS. A good example might be "Competitor pricing". That way, you could provide potential leads with an alternative of more attractive pricing options.

However, always have in mind that it's a double-edged sword. Your competitor can bid against your non-trademarked keywords anytime too. And that's especially true if he catches you doing that in the first place.

So, should I bid on branded terms? It all depends upon the situation and calculated risks. Unfortunately, there's no definitive answer.

Should you bid on your own brand name?

If a competitor is bidding against your non-trademarked brand, there's probably only one way to fight back your leads - you should bid on your own brand name. Of course, it might create frustration that it's your brand, and you see somebody else displayed in a better position. And, even worse, you have to pay for Google ads to rank higher on your own branded search results. But there are good reasons why it could be less painful than you think:

  • You'll have a lot higher keyword score on Google ads, so your CPC will be a lot lower than your competitor.
  • You don't have to outbid them 100% of the time across all countries, only on the markets where you have a genuine interest.
  • The recovered lead is likely to spend more and cover your ads expenses.

It's a new reality. A lot of companies are doing this:

  1. Amazon vs. Walmart
  2. Nike vs. Adidas
  3. Apple vs. Samsung

What is brand bidding in affiliate marketing?

Brand bidding in affiliate marketing refers to the practice where affiliates bid on a company's branded keywords or trademarked terms in pay-per-click (PPC) search engine advertising campaigns, such as Google Ads or Bing Ads. These branded keywords usually include the company's name, product names, or other registered trademarks. The objective for affiliates is to appear prominently in search engine results when potential customers are directly searching for the brand or its specific products, thereby increasing the likelihood of driving traffic to their own marketing channels or directly to the merchant's site through their affiliate links.

In some cases, the strategy involves affiliates creating ads that seem to be from the brand itself, which can sometimes lead to confusion among consumers. This approach can be controversial since brand owners have a vested interest in maintaining control over their brand's representation and messaging. For the affiliate, bidding on these terms can be appealing because branded searches often indicate high purchase intent, which could result in higher conversion rates and commissions.

Final thoughts - is branded keywords a waste of money?

Yes and No.

You've probably seen some examples where people made a lot of money by bidding on brand terms. And then you've also seen other instances where people lost hundreds of dollars because they didn't know what they were doing. So it's not easy.

That being said, there are many different ways to get started. Start small by doing something simple first. Start with a $1 daily budget, and work your budget up from there. If you're having difficulty finding profitable keywords, try looking for niche ones. They're usually less competitive than others, so you can often get a decent return on investment.

Finally, remember to protect your own brand name terms. You might not know if your competitors are bidding against you. You can easily address it with SerpWall. Start a free trial today. No credit card is required.

What to do when competitors bid on your brand keyword?

The main question remains meaningful in 2022 - what should you do if a competitor bids on your brand term?

Read more

How to prevent competitors from bidding on my brand?

If you came here looking for a definite answer: you can't prevent brand bidding. However, there are still some things you could do...

Read more

Stop competitors stealing your branded leads

Even losing 20 leads a day for a week can quickly turn into a shortage of thousands in your sales pipeline.

Learn More
Discover competitors bidding on your brandStart a free trial