Paid Search Strategy: To bid or not to bid on my brand terms?

By Yael Heffetz, Search Director, CvE

In this AI era, it is rather easy to be captivated by those new, shiny, and exciting developments of tools and products, that make our marketing tedious tasks easier. However, there are some very basic discussions and strategic decisions, that regardless of the number and level of sophistication of the robots we will be surrounded by, will always stay relevant and we must not lose sight of them.

Having been around the paid search arena for quite some time now, I have participated in numerous discussions around the one and rather controversial subject: Should we or should we not bid on our own brand terms?

Most of the brands I have worked with are divided into two very clear groups:

Group number 1:

Of course, we should bid against our brand terms and protect our brand from the intense competition. One should be mad not to do so!

Group number 2:

Why in the world should I waste good marketing spend on my brand terms? If someone is searching for me, I already have him/her.

In my opinion, they can both be right! The answer to this question is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution. It depends on three important pillars:

  1. SEO
  2. Competition Intensity
  3. Brand awareness

If the business in discussion is within the fortunate ones that perfectly supports all these three pillars, meaning:

  1. The business understands the importance of building a digital presence with a solid SEO foundation, in general, while also making sure it supports brand terms in particular.
  2. This business is also operating in a market with very low, to non-existent competition.
  3. The brand in discussion is a well-known brand.

Consequently, I would argue that there is no urgent need to bid against brand terms. In this instance, the organic presence will suffice and there is no need to allocate spend, meant to protect and maintain brand presence, as its organic presence will do the job without additional marketing spend (pay attention to the use of the word ‘additional’, as to gain this position a substantial share of marketing costs should have already been allocated to SEO).

However, even if only one of those three pillars does not apply to what is explained above, a whole different approach must be considered:

Pillar 1 – SEO

If the company’s SEO is not well set and if a user is aware of the brand’s presence, it’ll take the user (too much) time to find the business’ online presence. While on the quest, this potential user might be lost to competitors. Having a campaign bidding against the brand terms will decrease the chances of losing this user.

Pillar 2 – Competition Intensity

If the business operates in a red ocean, chances are competitors will be bidding against everyone else’s brand terms. If the brand decides to stop playing this game, its competition will simply take over and even if the best-in-class SEO has been set-up, the brand will be pushed way below the fold of the SERP while all the competitor’s ads will push it down. Having a campaign bidding against the brand terms will most probably have the brand in the first position most of the time, as the QS of the keywords and the ad strength will necessarily be better than the competitors (remember, those are your brand terms!).

Pillar 3 – Brand Awareness

The last point is the most controversial one, and here’s why: A company could rationally believe that if its brand has little to no brand awareness, there’s no point in bidding against the brand terms. There will be no search volume anyways. Right? Right, but at the same time, wrong!

The answer is simple; if brand awareness is low, there should be an activity in place that would raise it (if there isn’t – set one up!). Once brand awareness starts to raise, search volume will pick up as well, and the last thing you would like is to lose users to competitors, just because users did not see the brand when they searched for it and instead, they were engaged with the competitor’s ad.


Most companies should bid on their own brand terms. Yes, there are exceptions and cases where there is no need to allocate budget toward this goal, but those instances are not the common ones. In most cases, there is defiantly a need (and a clear profit) to bid on brand terms.

With that said, I have also seen some businesses that are 80% dependent on brand terms (and sometimes even more). This is also a mistake and in 99% of the cases, this is simply a waste of marketing budget.

From my experience, the ultimate split between brand and generic terms is 20/80. And, to avoid miss understandings, 20% should go to the brand terms.


Please email me at and I will be more than happy to listen and help your business create a winning Search Engine Marketing Strategy.

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