Maximize Profitability on Your Branded PPC
Ryan Moothart Aug 20 2015
Alternate Title: How I doubled Return on Ad Spend in branded PPC
PPC 101 – Branded Search
The first rule of PPC is to make sure you bid on your branded search terms. Actually, scratch that – the first rule of PPC is that all must bow down to Earth’s future overlords, Google. Or was that “Alphabet”? But! After that, bidding on branded search terms is top of the list. The logic is crazy simple: you don’t want competitors bidding on your brand name, and showing ads for their products before yours.
Better still, running a branded search campaign in your Google AdWords account is easy, right? You happily add in all the variations of your brand’s name as keywords, create some on-message text ads, sprinkle in a few sitelinks, and you’re good to go. And, by virtue of Quality Scores in AdWords, you should be paying a heck of a lot less per click than any competitor trying to go after your brand name or keywords.
Signed, sealed, delivered, done. It’s one of the most straight-forward PPC strategies.
Seems like the ultimate in low-hanging (high ROI) fruit, so you’d want to shovel in as much cash as possible to ensure you’re getting it all. Impressions, clicks, leads, revenue… Right?
A fool and his PPC budget are soon parted
No. It’s not that simple? What if I told you that you could actually be hurting yourself by throwing huge budgets at this type of campaign? Would you believe me?
I’ll prove it.
One of the most common mistakes advertisers make in any branded search campaign is to set high maximum CPC bids. They assume that their actual average CPC will turn out far lower at the end of the day. The logic behind the high ceiling on bids is that you want to be in that coveted #1 ad spot for all searches of your own brand name 24/7/365. The high bid leaves nothing to chance. For example, a business might bid $10 for their brand name in “exact match” knowing that the avg. CPC will realistically end up around $2. To many, that’s worth it, so long as you always dominate position #1.
But this tactic may artificially and unnecessarily increase your own click costs. You’re throwing money away.
I saw this first-hand with a client’s account. The client set their maximum CPC on branded keywords far higher than the existing top bid. I suspected Google AdWords was exploiting that and costing my client a lot of money..
I wanted to know if I could lower my bids significantly on these keywords, lower my avg. CPC, and maximize ROAS without losing out on impression share or avg. ad position.
Could I still get dominant placement on searches for the company’s brand for far less money?
How I doubled ROAS on branded search
Over the course of 12 months, I lowered nearly every branded keyword bid 50% – 75% or more. The year-over-year results were flat-out stunning:
Nearly every key metric improved after making these bid changes. The only one which decreased was the click total. Lower year over year search volume drove that.
The biggest impact can be seen in the bottom two rows: profit from branded search keywords increased 24% while ROAS increased 159%. I’d call that a clear test result.
The bottom line
Don’t set ridiculously high maximum bids in your branded campaigns. That’s not how you succeed. Think about your priorities. If you want high ROAS, avoid that bid strategy. Sure, setting high maximum bids may help you sleep at night. They guarantee you’ll always have that number one spot for your brand. But that tactic costs you a fortune.. If you care about ROAS, avoid set-it-and-forget-it PPC strategies. Treat your branded keywords like any other AdWords campaign. Manage wisely!
Ryan is a PPC Architect and has been with Portent, Inc. since 2010. He has over seven years of hands-on PPC experience including large-scale e-commerce, international B2B lead gen, and everything in between. Graduating from Willamette University with a BA in Rhetoric and Media Studies, he became a published author in 2016 with the release of his book, Towards Cascadia, which is a non-fiction exploration of Pacific Northwest identity, bioregionalism, and nationhood. He and his husband, Paul, enjoy traveling and are avid followers of Sounders FC, Seattle’s Major League Soccer club. Read More