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Paid Search Brand Activation – Understanding The True Value

Written by Chris
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Understanding the true value of running brand ads, or more pertinently, it’s value in driving incremental sales is a topic that has been widely debated over time.

Advertising specialists have forensically analysed the value of running brand terms in various search environments, however the consensus is still unclear.

Here at Flaunt Digital, we’ve come to realise that there is no hard and fast rule, however there are some common denominators that you should look out for in determining if brand search activity adds value adds your business.

Consider a brand whose organic presence is strong, with 100% coverage across page one of the SERPs (search engine results pages). This is a very low risk scenario where it might be difficult to quantify and justify paid activation.  There’s a small possibility that users won’t find you or the intended page, however it’s arguably negligible if your listings clearly reflect the user’s query and point to the right place – no harm done.

Now consider the flip side of events.  Your brand ranks in position 1 for organic listings, but you have paid ad competitors appearing above your organic listings.  The sheer fact that these advertisers are appearing suggests that it’s a cost effective targeting method for your key competitors.  Losing clickshare to said competitors will undoubtedly have a negative impact on your overall brand sales.  


Run the numbers

Brand protection theories aside, advertisers need to be asking the more pertinent question, “if I run brand ads, will the money I’ll be spending running them outweigh the incremental revenue driven via the activity?”  This is where things get a little more tricky.  It’s recommended that you first establish what percentage of click share you’re losing to your competitors without brand ads, then calculate, if you were to activate brand ads, what this would cost.  If the cost for restoring your brand clickshare puts you at a loss, then there’s a clear argument to stop running brand ads.

Many business owners and marketing managers struggle to see the value in brand ads even when competitors are clearly piggybacking off their brand searches.  The view that brand activity is wasted money on traffic they’ll get anyway is a very broad and naive assumption, that could have long lasting revenue implications.

Advertisers in the above scenario should look at metrics such as click share %, CTR and CvR to fully understand how brand activation affects overall revenue.

For example, let’s say that your brand CTR for organic achieves around 65%. You notice however that when brand ads are live, your total brand CTR increases from 65% to 85% for core brand terms resulting in an immediate lift in traffic.  Now calculate the total increase in revenue generated by this activity, deduct the media spend, and compare this figure to what brand terms would have driven without the presence of paid ads – et voila!

This methodology will guide you to understand the true value of brand ads in driving incremental sales and revenue.


Don’t waste your other marketing efforts

It’s common knowledge among marketing professionals that having a relationship with a customer has to be earned.  This involves massaging the relationship overtime through different mediums and with different messages helping to cement the trust.

A brand search signifies that you’ve successfully made a connection with with your audience, however potential customers can be intercepted by competitors at the last hurdle if brand visibility is weak. This is especially important if other retailers and resellers operate a price led model looking to entice customers with a cheaper offer for a similar product or service.

Losing the sale at the final touchpoint renders your upper funnel prospecting efforts futile if you are not visible and ready to harvest with brand search ads.  

Make sure your brand ads appear above your competitors when customers are searching for you.  Such ignorance towards running brand ads could be a costly oversight resulting in dwindling ROIs and wasted upper funnel media spends.


Personalised messaging for added value

Do your organic listings reference relevant and current promotions? Do they talk to users in a personalised way based on their previous behaviours and interactions?  Probably not.

Brand ads don’t just offer advertisers greater real estate in the SERP, they also provide advertisers with the option to shout about particular promotions & USPs, and deep-link users to the most specific category page based on their purchase intent.

In a nutshell, advertisers can guide users to take their desired action in a more personalised way, be it to download their app, click to call, or show promotions unique to new customers only.  This becomes especially significant if you know for example that new customers on average spend ‘X%’ more than existing.



Brand protection has it’s place, however if you’re interested in understanding it’s output in terms of pounds and pence then it’s recommended that you get hands on with the numbers.  Aspects such as ad creative, device coverage, click share % and organic vs paid traffic are a great place to start.  Also, analyse the competitor landscape and be sure to capitalise on seasonal peaks and troughs. Understand that there are limitations to what organic listings can deliver and talk to specific user buckets in a personalised way.

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