Branded Campaigns in Google Ads

Should I be bidding on the name of my business in Google Ads? It's a question many ask. Discover the pros and cons of branded campaigns.

“Should I be bidding on the name of my business in Google Ads?” It’s a question many business owners and digital marketers alike consider. While it’s already commonplace for many top companies to run ads for their own name in search engine advertising, let’s delve into the pros and cons of “branded advertising.”

Branded Campaigns – What Are They?

In Google search ads, marketers select the search query keywords they’d like their ads to show for. These keywords fall into two primary categories – branded and non-branded.

Branded terms can include the name of the business, any smaller brands under the company’s organization and/or popular product names. For Google Ads themselves, branded search terms could include “Google Ads” and “YouTube Ads” – both of which they’re currently targeting with branded ads.

Non-branded terms are more generic and can include search queries such as a product or service and the consumer-facing need the product/service solves. For Google Ads, non-branded terms could include “digital advertising” or “placing digital ads”.

How Should Branded Ads Work?

For businesses considering a branded campaign, first ensure your business name is currently being searched frequently enough on an ongoing basis for Google to allow it as a viable target keyword. A quick test without having to access the Google Ads dashboard is to perform a search for your business name and see if text ads are showing on the search engine results page (SERP) above and/or below the non-paid listings. These will be designated with “Ad” in bold text.

If ads are showing, the query meets Google’s minimum search traffic threshold though of concern are the other sites already bidding on your name! This in itself is a reason to strongly consider a branded campaign.

Campaign Segmentation

In Google Ads, branded keywords should be added to a separate campaign from any non-branded keywords. By nature, branded ads typically achieve much higher engagement at a lower cost than other campaigns since these shoppers are already familiar with your brand and actively searching for it specifically. When developing bidding strategy and analyzing results, it is highly beneficial to have these two different focuses in wholly separate campaigns.

Branding Campaign Benefits

Branded ads, especially in conjunction with organic SEO efforts, essentially doubles the amount of real estate your company is able to take over on a SERP with presence of your paid ad and your organic site listing.

If competitors’ ads are already appearing in search results for your name, a branding campaign allows you to take a defensive position and likely knock one of the competitors out of an advertising slot with your own ad.

When bidding for your own name, you often can achieve much lower cost metrics (such as cost per ad click and cost per conversion) than non-branded campaigns. Since your business is a very relevant result for your name, Google essentially provides a “home field advantage” in bidding.

Branded campaigns provide better control of messaging and user experience than a non-paid listing. Organic listings can be influenced with SEO efforts but are ultimately up to the search engine on what is displayed to a shopper. Changes to organic listings can also take some time to update in search results. A branded ad however can contain multiple “ad extensions” of additional information that can be updated almost instantly including time-sensitive sales promotions. Paid ads can also better direct traffic to a specific conversion-oriented landing page without sacrificing SEO efforts of an organic listing.

Branded campaigns often show significant results over relying exclusively on organic efforts. An ecommerce company we work with typically sees an average order value from paid media traffic that is $50 higher than their organic traffic. If your website has analytics tracking in place, it’s worth a comparison test.

Branding Campaign Concerns

The most common (and understandable) concern among some marketers is that branding campaigns are an unnecessary cost if the business already has search presence with their non-paid site listings. The thought is users who would otherwise click on the company’s non-paid listing may instead click on a paid ad since it will likely appear higher on the SERP.

Similarly, if competitors aren’t currently bidding for your name, placing the sole ad on a SERP would bump down your website’s organic listing into a secondary position, which would otherwise appear at the top of results.

Depending on keyword match types and negative keywords utilized, a branded ad could display for non-sales searches such as jobs at your company or product/service reviews. This is largely negated with proper campaign setup and management, but worth taking into account at launch.


Branding campaigns can be an effective way to defend against competitors and achieve enhanced performance from Google Ads. Though it should be evaluated for viability on a case-by-case basis, take note of the companies you see running branded ads and continuously monitor the search results for your business’s name. With the flexibility and transparency of Google Ads and Google Analytics, you can always run an inexpensive test to try branded ads and monitor results on your website’s overall and organic-specific traffic.

Taylor Brown
Taylor Brown

Taylor is the owner & digital strategist of Go-To Man Marketing. With a passion for digital marketing and analytics, he's helped clients to grow their businesses for more than a decade.

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