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7 Reasons Why Nixing Branded Keywords Is Not The Fix For CPC Inflation

“If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”

While this classic parenting question is cliché, it makes a good point. And it’s one that search marketers could also learn from. Especially those who are thinking about eliminating brand keyword phrases from their paid search campaigns just because their competitors are doing it.

The Role Of CPC Inflation In Retail

Unfortunately, this mindset is common in the retail space where the search landscape grows more complex and crowded every day.

According to a recent SEMPO report, search marketing investment is slated to grow to $19.3 billion dollars this year. That’s an increase of 16% — the largest increase since before the recession.

But with growth comes competition, which leads to bidding wars and CPC inflation. In turn, it makes channels that were once touted for their ability to scale and deliver a profitable ROI, less efficient.

This is especially true for retailers with large, complex accounts with millions of keywords. And inflating CPCs make marketers nervous. In fact, they are likely to cause even the most savvy search marketer to sweat and look for quick fixes.

7 Reasons To Keep Investing In Your Brand Keywords

Let me be clear — shutting off Brand keywords for savings is not the answer! Below are seven reasons why you should rethink moving investment away from your brand keyword phrases.

Brand Protection

Advertisers who do not bid on branded keyword phrases are more vulnerable to competitors seizing this opportunity. The March 3rd changes to Adcenter’s policy regarding trademark keywords just reinforce this point. Any cost savings will be negated if the sales and revenue intended for these terms are picked up by a competitor.

Dynamic Messaging

The fluid nature of paid search allows retailers to update ad messaging in real time, which is tremendously effective during last minute sales and promotions. This also ensures retailers’ ads are most relevant during key holidays and seasons. Paid ads are also great for testing new marketing messages for effectiveness before making a wider investment in other channels.

Value Ads Within PPC

New engine features including sitelinks, location extensions, product extensions, PLAs and Rich ads in Search typically only display on highly relevant keywords with high quality scores, aka your brand keywords. Without them, these opportunities become harder to seize and benefit from.

Missed Goals

You could argue that the cost of brand keywords could be saved by capturing this traffic organically. However, this investment is typically quite small relative to the rest of the program. The revenues they generate, on the other hand, are tremendous. Removal of brand keywords will seriously impact retailers’ ability to hit forecasted goals from this channel. Keep in mind that you won’t just feel the loss in brand revenue; you will also see a loss in non-brand influenced revenue.

Shrinking Efficiencies

Each of us knows that our brand keywords are our bread and butter and allow us to support our testing and expansion plans by floating the traditionally less efficient non-brand keywords and content networks. Removing brand keywords will result in shrinking efficiencies in terms of reported ROAS.

Increased Real Estate

By bidding on your brand keywords, you are taking up more real estate within the search landscape. Studies have shown that while the highest volume of clicks is driven by the first positions in organic search results, the lower positions (3 – 5) still drive significant volume. Before shutting off your brand keywords, you should survey your organic placements to see if you are dominating the landscape above the fold on page one.

Service and Support

Let’s not forget that the dedicated service and support retailers receive from vertical reps at the engines, account reps from tool providers, and the large teams from agencies. They are all widely influenced by the investments that retailers make in their PPC programs. The reality is that removal of brand keywords could potentially lead to a reduction in dedicated support from vendors.

Remember, just because competitors are abandoning their brand terms, doesn’t me you should too. They probably are looking for a quick fix, and haven’t considered the larger implications. Retailers who are thinking about removing branded keywords from their accounts should first weigh the costs versus the benefits. From there, it should be easy to identify reasons why continuing to invest in brand terms is a smart decision.