We recently heard from a client who had performed a search for his company name.  Our client noted that while his company charted in the first position of the organic results, he did not see a Google PPC ad displayed on his behalf, and much to his surprise, he saw one of his competitors running a pay per click ad triggered by his company name.  The client asked if we should create an AdWords campaign based on his company name and duplicate these efforts on Bing and Yahoo!   Since I often preach the virtues of repurposing responses to e-mail questions for blog content, I decided to practice what I preach and offer up my takes in the form of a post.

Before getting too deep into my response, we should start with a disclaimer:  our client works in the B2B manufacturing sector.  If you look at overall traffic levels, Bing and Yahoo! have just a fraction of the search volume of Google, and the percentage of B2B traffic is even more heavily skewed toward Google for the engineering and purchasing crowd.  This is why we have historically focused most of our attention on AdWords for paid search.

With this said, what about buying a company name as part of a PPC strategy?  Bidding on your own company name won’t exhaust your budget (it is relatively inexpensive) and it does allow for a greater degree of control over your messaging, but think back to motive.  Although most clients love the thought of Googling their company names and seeing a display ad pop up, most of these searches are prompted by the need for an e-mail address or a phone number—the tech era equivalent of using search engines like the phone book.  Why buy these clicks?  As for brand names, our clients aren’t IBM or Coca-Cola.  Again, organic placement for these keywords is typically more than adequate exposure.

So is buying a company name or a brand a bad idea?  Not always–it depends on which company / brand names you buy. Think back to the case of our client and the search that prompted this post.  You can’t use a competitor’s name or brand in your own ad copy, but buying and displaying ads triggered by these keyword phrases can augment  an otherwise well-conceived PPC strategy. The magic isn’t in the ability to trick someone into thinking company x is company y, but rather, creating an opportunity to position your company as a viable alternative to the competition.  This last point is extremely important. The strategy is only as good as your ad copy, so build a concise and convincing case for why the visitor should visit your site instead and back up your PPC ad with effective landing page copy.

Do you have additional thoughts on buying company names/ brand names that you would like to share?  Feel free to share below….