Should advertisers bid on their own brand name in search?
by Sean Heneghan

Last night we won Gold at the DMA Awards for our work on the launch of Hospitality Rising. Whilst this was a predominantly brand-led campaign, paid search played a vital role in making sure job-seekers found their way to site – converting the trust and awareness built up through other media into consideration and applications.

Whilst bidding on Hospitality Rising brand terms was a necessary strategy, particularly for a new site with limited visibility, the question is often asked when this strategy is proposed: should advertisers bid on their own brand name in search, or is it an unnecessary expense for attracting already interested customers?

We’ve outlined the biggest reasons we believe brand search adds real value to your business, even when organic search performance is strong.

Beating the competition

The most important reason for running brand search is to defend against your competitors. If rivals are bidding on your brand terms and you aren’t, then they can guarantee the top spot on searches for your brand. This is particularly important in industries where brand loyalty doesn’t play such a big role and consumers can easily be swayed by a competitor’s ad.

Bidding on your own brand terms is generally a lot cheaper for you than your competitors (due to better ad relevance and CTRs which improve quality score and reduce CPCs), so it’s much easier to ensure you end up in the first position. It also deters competitors from bidding on your terms as having more advertisers in the auction inflates CPCs, increasing the cost.

Boosting presence and improving CTRs

Running brand search increases presence in the search listings for your brand terms and improves the chances of users clicking through to your site. There are continuous changes to the layout of Google’s search listings and some of these can negatively impact CTRs – e.g. Google Maps listings are taking more priority and can often hide web listings. Bidding on brand terms can ensure you appear at the top of the page, regardless of the other listings present.

There’s also a lot of data to back up the claim that running brand search improves overall CTR, as our case study shows. We turned on brand paid search for a leisure brand even though they had strong organic listings with little competition and we saw a significant increase in the combined CTR of paid and organic listings.

Our chart compares periods with and without paid search running and shows a clear uplift in the percentage of people clicking through to the website.

Taking into account the low cost of bidding on brand terms, particularly when there is little competition, you almost can’t afford not to run brand ads. Even a small uplift in traffic to site can prove to be cost-effective.

Tailoring the messaging

Another benefit of brand search is the flexibility it gives you to tailor the messaging in ad copy. It can often be hard to control how organic listings appear or require help from your web dev team to change them.

Paid search allows you to quickly swap messaging in an out (e.g. if there’s an offer running) and allows you to control exactly where on the site users end up, providing the opportunity to send potential customers further down the purchase funnel if desired. Additionally, you can add in sitelink extensions to direct users to other important parts of the site.

In short…

Whilst bidding on your brand name in search advertising is more important for some brands than others, we believe there are valid reasons for everyone to do it and we have the data to back it up.


1. Is it necessary for brands to bid on their own name?

It’s not 100% essential for all brands, but it can be a strategic move, especially in competitive industries. For lesser-known brands, it certainly helps in gaining visibility online. For established brands, it’s more about controlling the narrative and where people are clicking to on your site, all while keeping your competitors at bay.

2. Does bidding on your own brand name impact SEO?

Bidding on your own brand name won’t directly impact organic SEO rankings. However, it certainly complements SEO efforts by ensuring that your brand dominates the search results page, both organically and through paid ads.

3. What are the risks of not bidding on your brand name?

The key risk is losing potential traffic to competitors who might bid on your brand name. You’re also missing out on controlling the first impression made through search results, which can be crucial for brand image and customer perception.

4. How should brands measure the success of bidding on their own name?

Success can be measured through various metrics such as click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, and return on ad spend (ROAS) – in particular, looking at this in conjunction with organic performance as, ultimately, there will be some degree of cannibalisation of organic listings so it’s important to measure the impact on the performance of search as a whole. Additionally, monitoring changes in brand awareness and direct website traffic can also provide insights.

December 6, 2023

If our Performance results have piqued your interest, get in touchto see how we can help your business growth.