Help! A competitor is bidding on my brand terms on AdWords!

Is a competitor bidding on your brand name or brand terms in paid search? This can be a very frustrating situation to find yourself in, especially since Google (unfortunately) does allow paid search bidding on a competitor’s brand terms, effectively permitting them to take away a large chunk of your search traffic. But don’t worry, all hope isn’t lost as there are plenty of things you can do. In order of suggestion, let’s look at the best ways to deal with a competitor bidding on your brand terms….

1. First, take back control of your own brand terms.

First things first, before any interaction with a competitor is necessary, we’d suggest that the best thing to do is defeat the competitor on your home-ground. If you aren’t already bidding on your brand terms, now is a perfect time to do so! There is nothing more relevant to your brand terms than your brand itself, so cleverly investing in pay per click advertising should easily be able to land your ad in position one on Google and Bing.

As a result of your high position, as well as the fact that many search engine users searching your brand names will probably be looking specifically for you anyway, your CPC (cost per click) will be significantly cheaper than that of your competitors. In turn, this increase the CPC for your competitor, making it much more unappealing to bid on your brand terms, and hopefully even encouraging them to remove the ads altogether.

2. Then, try getting in touch with your competitor.

If your competitor’s AdWords bidding strategies are still causing you trouble, there really is no harm in reaching out to them. It may seem like the last thing you’d want to do, but you really have nothing to lose – in the worst possible scenario they will just ignore you or reject your request.

In the best possible scenario, however, they might just surprise you! Sometimes all it takes is a simple, polite, and friendly email to request that the competitor withdraw their PPC advertising on your brand terms or brand name.

3. If necessary, submit a trademark complaint.

If you’ve got your PPC management in order and made your brand’s PPC campaign the best it can be, AND you’ve contacted your competitor but still to no avail, it could be time to take more serious action. Should your competitor be using your trademark brand name in their online marketing, you may be entitled to submit a trademark complaint, which will tell Google to disapprove their PPC ads. You can also easily authorise a PPC agency like us to do this on your behalf.

After a trademark complaint has been launched and resolved, there is a chance that your competitor won’t even notice that their ads have been disapproved. The other option is that they continue to run ads but without featuring your brand’s trademark, which is still good news, because it will lead to a decrease in their quality score and therefore an increase in their CPCs.

Please be aware that it may be worth contacting your competitor once more (in a non-threatening way) before taking this route, as they may not have realised at first how willing you were to take the issue seriously. Though a trademark complaint is possible, sorting out the situation amicably would always be preferable, and less risky.

4. If all else fails, consider bidding on their terms (but be warned!)

If you’ve exhausted all other options, the last possible strategy could be to bid on your competitor’s terms. However, we must warn that it is unlikely to turn out very well for either party, as it can quickly spiral in to somewhat of a brand name bidding war. Here, we will break down the specific advantages and disadvantages of this method…

Advantages of bidding on a competitor’s brand terms:

  • By bidding on their terms, you may persuade your competitor to remove their original ads.
  • In the process, increase your brand awareness by appearing in google searches for their terms, which could increase conversions (taking them away from the competition)

Disadvantages of bidding on a competitor’s brand terms:

  • You would essentially be starting a vendetta against your competitor by retaliating against them
  • Just as there is nothing more relevant to your brand terms than your brand, the same goes for the other side. This means that while others may see your ads on competitor brand terms, not many are likely to click, resulting in a very low CTR and in turn a decrease in quality score. (Your ‘retaliation’ bidding campaign could become a very expensive one)
  • As you spiral into a bidding war, CPCs will increase on both sides, so while you fight for control over your terms you will just be putting more money into the large pockets of search engines like Google – which isn’t doing much good for either you or your competitor!

As with taking up a trademark complaint, if you resort to this method you may again consider contacting your competitor, especially seeing as they will probably have noticed a rise in their CPCs once you begin bidding on their terms. Again, this should be to very politely inform your competitor why it may be best for both parties to withdraw their ads.

As you can see, though the world of competitive digital marketing and PPC advertising may seem pretty ruthless at times, there is always something that can be done. If a competitor is bidding on your brand terms, hopefully you won’t even have to go past steps one and two to get it resolved, but if you do, at least it is good to know that the options are there! At SEM Consultants, we have expert, dedicated PPC managers who will be able to give professional guidance on these situations, as well as strategically managing and improving your AdWords campaigns and other forms of PPC marketing. Contact us below to speak with one of our helpful team, who are ready to help you with anything you need.

“Together, we’ve got this!”