We live in a world where search traffic is extremely valuable. If you’ve been running paid media for a while, you’ll understand that the users coming from search campaigns are usually the lowest cost to acquire, as they have high intent. 

This raises an important question for companies running search ads on Google Search, Apple Search Ads, Bing, or any other search engine. That is, “why bother paying for users that are already searching our name?”

It’s an understandable question, but this doesn’t mean to say it’s time to shrink budgets and jump ship. In fact, there are solid reasons you should be investing in your brand terms on Google Search. In this article we focus on two particular reasons why: competition and quality control. 



Generally speaking, brands are allowed to target any keyword they want on Google Search Ads, leaving the door open for aggressive competitor targeting strategies. For instance, Apple can target Samsung keywords and essentially poach Samsung’s users. 

If your competitors are bidding on your brand keywords, that means they’re rising above the organic listing of your brand and receiving traffic off the back of your brand-building efforts. This can cause even the people that have searched for you directly to end up on the competitor’s website since it will be the first search result they see. 

Typically, companies defend their brand robustly, targeting their brand keywords to rise above the competition and become the first result when searched. Targeting your own brand keywords will be cost effective for you, so it makes sense to defend your brand and what’s already yours. 

You can see in the example below that competitors are bidding on Phiture’s keywords and if we weren’t running brand campaigns, we’d lose traffic since our organic result is ranking third which is less visible, and almost invisible on mobile.

There are a few ways to confirm that competitors are in fact targeting your keywords, some of which require already running brand campaigns.

1. Auction insights

If you’ve already been running brand campaigns on Google Search Ads for a while and want to know if it’s worth keeping them, you can check out the handy little report that Google provides, called “Auction Insights” on the left-side menu under Campaigns, Ad Groups or Keywords. The report displays who else is bidding on that keyword with the respective share of voice, if there’s no other brand shown on there, that means there’s no competition during that time period.

2. Google Search

A less reliable yet easy way to check any competition is simply Googling your brand’s name and seeing if any ads come up that are not your own. This is not an airtight solution as ads display on an auction-by-auction basis based on your competitors’ bids, budgets and quality scores. Therefore they might not show up every time you search the keyword.

3. Data Intelligence Tools

A more sustainable, albeit more expensive method to analyze your competitor’s paid search efforts is to use third-party data intelligence tools such as SimilarWeb or Ahrefs. Bear in mind that whatever data you can find on their paid search campaigns, they’re able to find about your campaigns too. This also works for Apple Search Ads  with your competitors’ share of voice data available on the tool.


Quality control 

When we advertise on branded words, we can change the ad copy, URL paths, and extensions as desired. These actions aim to increase the Click Through Rate (CTR), make the ad more relevant, and have searchers be more interested and ultimately click on the ad. In other words, branded campaigns allow us to easily control the message we show  the user. This is in itself a powerful reason to maintain your brand campaigns. 

You can choose to add promotional extensions, app extensions, or talk about an offer you have in the copy of your branded campaign to control what the users see about your brand, rather than only showing the organic result which is created by Google by crawling your website.

We can also take action to increase the conversion rate by sending users to our landing page of choice where we can easily perform A/B tests. You can test out which landing page brings in more conversions, test what offer allows for a better CVR, or even see if the app extension brings in any incremental installs. 


Quality Score 

Pay attention to the Quality Score. Each keyword in each account has a quality score, which is calculated with ad relevance, landing page experience, and expected click-through rate. An increased score will reduce acquisition costs as these ads are relevant to what the user is looking for and we’re able to direct them to a page where they can convert easier rather than the homepage. In relation to this, a higher quality score on these branded campaigns will help increase the overall quality score of the account as well.

Measuring results

If your goal for brand campaigns is profitability, then you can run on/off brand spend tests to measure whether your paid results add incremental value to your overall KPI. A simple test you can run is scaling ad spend for two weeks, which is enough to secure significant traffic to measure any potential uplift on organic results, and enough time to also account for weekly cyclicality. 

You should then pause the test for two weeks and compare the sequential results on your main metrics. Stay mindful of running the test over any period of seasonality and any additional outside marketing such as an influencer campaign going live, that could impact the increase of search results and skew your test. 

A more precise way of measuring results is to have a control group and a test group, and a control group that remains completely untouched. You may set this test up with two targeted locations, two keyword types or two specific audiences based on what makes sense with your current campaign structure and strategy.


You will have one of three outcomes, as shown in the illustrative example from the AppsFlyer incrementality testing guide.  Depending on the volume of the test, and in most cases, unless you have a very large budget to allocate to a keyword test, It’s very common for results to remain neutral, or perhaps see negative results because of the challenges of running a true A/B split test. So as mentioned earlier, be mindful of investing enough time and dollars to ensure you can get conclusive results. 

Lastly, keep in mind that costs are much lower for brand campaigns vs any other keyword, so if your goal for brand campaigns is a defensive strategy to outrank competitors, then you should measure results by monitoring the share of voice, impression share, and ad ranking.  



In summary, the factors for brand campaigns will ultimately be determined by the internal goals set. Typically those are either to scale efficiently, or to defend your brand against competitors. To decide what’s best for your strategy, run tests and compare brand traffic to your bottom line revenue to gauge whether it’s worth maintaining the keywords live. You can always also have a seasonal and agile approach to bidding on your own brand keywords. Rely on the data to decide the investment question. 

Before you go: 

  • Need support with understanding keyword cannibalization on Google Ads and/or Apple Search, reach out to us! 
  • Google App Campaigns (GAC) formerly known as Google Universal App Campaigns (UAC), allow for the promotion of an app across several Google placements, such as Google Search, Youtube, Google Display and Google Play. In this article we run you through our best practice advice for executing effecting Google App Campaigns. 
  • Since its publication in 2020, Phiture’s Apple Search Ads (ASA) Stack has been widely adopted by Performance Marketing Teams to define their everyday User Acquisition efforts, and provide a holistic overview of Apple Search Ads. We’re now reissued the ASA Stack in light of new placements, bid optimization best practice, and new CPPs. Read our redux for a full overview the new changes here.