Google AdWords Competitor Targeting Campaign: What You Need to Know

Google AdWords Competitor Targeting Campaign: What You Need to Know

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It’s safe to say that your competitors are attracting prospects through their Google ads that would also be a good fit for your business. So why not target your competitor’s brand terms with your own Google AdWords campaign? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. Below, we’ll cover all you need to know about developing and implement a Google AdWords competitor targeting campaign.

Google Adwords Competitor Targeting Tip #1 – See Who is Bidding on Your Branded Terms

It’s important to remember that competitor targeting in Google Adwords is competitive. Before you start developing a Google AdWords competitor targeting campaign, you’ll want to check to make sure that your competitors aren’t also using this tactic. You can start looking to see who has bid on your branded terms by clicking on “Campaigns” and then navigating to the tab called “Auction Insights.”


Bidding on Your Branded Terms


Once you filter for your branded campaigns, you’ll be able to see which of your competitors has bid on your branded terms as well as how their campaigns performing. If you find that your competitors are already bidding on your branded terms, then it’s fair game for you to do the same. You’ll need to do a little research before you get started, but more on that later…

If you notice that no one is currently bidding on your branded terms, then you need to carefully consider whether or not it’s worth it for you to start with a competitor targeting strategy. When you start bidding on competitor branded terms, you may start a trend after your competitors catch on to your strategy. When they come after your branded terms in their own campaigns, they could potentially drive up your cost-per-click.

Google Adwords Competitor Targeting Tip #2 – Discover How Competitors Position Themselves Against Your Brand

Finding out who is bidding on your branded terms is just the start. If you plan on developing a Google AdWords competitor targeting campaign, you’re going to need to understand how your competitors are currently positioning their brand against yours in their Google AdWords campaign. You can find out by using Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool to test out different search queries in different locations.

Competitors Position

Not only will you be able to find out who is winning the auctions for your branded keywords, but you’ll also be able to see how they are positioning themselves. By finding out what your competitors are saying in the ads that use your targeted terms, you’ll have a better understanding of what you may need to change in your own ad campaigns.

Google Adwords Competitor Targeting Tip #3 – Make Sure That You Know Your Competitors

Before you go any further with your competitor targeting Google AdWords campaign, you need to make sure that you know the competitive landscape. There’s a good chance that all of your competitors are not targeting your branded terms. In fact, you may find that none of your competitors are targeting your key terms. However, if you don’t know who exactly you are competing with, then you need to start here.

Before launching your competitor targeting campaign, start by doing some keyword research. While researching the keywords that are most likely to be used by your target buyers, start to build a comprehensive list of brands that are competing for the same audiences in your industry. 


Know Your Competitors


Once you have a list of these competitors, take time to review their websites and expand this keyword list to include branded terms for products, slogans, or anything else that may be relevant.

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Google Adwords Competitor Targeting Tip #4 – Develop Ad Copy That Highlights Competitor Weaknesses

While you’re doing some research on your competitors’ websites, you will find that they aren’t quick to point out their own flaws or weaknesses. You will need to know these when you start to develop ad copy, so it’s important to look in the right places to see what customers are saying about your competitors. Online customer reviews on Amazon, social media, and other review sites are a great place to get started.


Ad Copy


As you look at what customers are saying about your competitors, you’ll want to note what their strengths are (so you can avoid mentioning these in the ad copy). You’ll also want to consider what are some pain points for their customers that your brand can solve. For example, let’s say the competitor is a service provider, and many customers complain about the response time when seeking assistance. This is a weakness that you can use to help guide your Google ad copy, making it easier for you to re-route the traffic to your own site.

Addressing the competitors’ weaknesses by highlighting your own strengths is a great way to set your brand apart from the competition. Many consumers who are ready to buy have already done their research and they know what their pain points are. When you clearly address these in your ad copy, you’re able to differentiate your brand from your competitors. The same features or aspects that you highlight in the ad copy should carry over into the landing page copy as well.

Google Adwords Competitor Targeting Tip #5 – Follow Google’s Rules

One of the most difficult aspects of developing a Google AdWords competitor targeting campaign is making sure that you follow Google’s rules while doing it. Google has a policy around the use of trademarks, which can be a bit tricky when your aiming to target a competitor’s branded keywords. This policy is why you won’t see brands mentioning their competitor’s names in their ad copy.

If you use another brand’s trademarked terms, you may find that your ad is disapproved or even reported to Google. The two exceptions for this are information sites and resellers that are using brand names or terms to describe their products. For example, if a shoe store may use the term “Reebok” to describe the type of shoe even if they are not the Reebok brand itself.

If you don’t belong to one of these two groups that are granted exceptions, you’ll need to be careful about not breaking this rule. In general, you should always try to play nice with your competitors even if you are going after their branded keywords. Be considerate so that you don’t prompt retaliation from competing brands.

Google Adwords Competitor Targeting Tip #6 – Protect Your Own Brand

No matter how considerate you may be when developing your Google AdWords campaign, remember that your competition may not always be. If you notice that your competitors are using your own trademarked terms in their ad copy, then you can file a complaint to protect your brand. If you’re going to file a complaint, make sure that you take a screenshot of the ad copy that contains your trademarked term.

If you have not yet trademarked your branded term, then now is the time to do it. Make sure that you trademark it in countries outside of the U.S. as well. Going through the process can be well worth it for your brand, especially if you are facing tough competition online.

Google Adwords Competitor Targeting Tip #7 – Defend Your Brand’s Position

Though you may think that your brand should be in position one for your branded terms, you still have to work for it. If you are negligent with your ad copy or your landing pages don’t provide a positive customer experience while your bids are low, you might be outbid by your competitors. This results in your position slipping rather quickly.

One way to keep this from happening is by using the automated bid strategy in Google AdWords called target outranking share.


Defend Your Brand’s Position


This strategy automatically raises your bids when you are competing against another AdWords bidder for the same keywords, resulting in a higher bid. If both you and your competitor are using this strategy then the strategies will increase each bid until one of the brand’s reaches its maximum bid limit.

Google Adwords Competitor Targeting Tip #8 – Keep an Eye on Your Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

One of the greatest disadvantages of competitor targeting in your Google AdWords campaign is that it can lead to a bidding war. When this happens, you’ll start to experience inflation of the CPC. That’s one of the reasons why we caution you to think carefully about bidding on a competitor’s keywords if they aren’t already bidding on yours. Once they realize you’re targeting their branded terms, they may retaliate, which causes competition for your keywords to increase, driving up your ad costs.

In the end, branded terms will often bring you more, less expensive clicks than the competitor traffic could. That’s because your ads are more likely to be relevant and provide a better landing page experience when you are targeting branded keywords that match the branded experience that’s on both the ad itself and your landing page.

That being said, if you notice that the CPC of your branded search terms is starting to increase, there’s a good chance that competitor targeting could be the issue. If you find that is the case, then it may be worth it to work to grow your business through competitor targeting on Google AdWords.

Get Started with Google AdWords Competitor Targeting

After you’ve done your research and identified the competition, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about whether Google AdWords competitor targeting is the right strategy for your brand. You should be cautious about using this as a strategy, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a great way for you to grow your business online. Remember to be courteous, work to craft compelling ad copy, and always keep an eye on your own terms and CPC.

Do you need help getting started with a competitor targeting Google AdWords campaign? The experienced team at SevenAtoms knows the ins and outs of Google AdWords and can help you better determine if competitor targeting is right for you. If it is, we’ll help you set up an effective campaign that drives more relevant traffic to your site. Contact us today.

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Author Bio

Andy Beohar

Andy Beohar

Andy Beohar is VP of SevenAtoms, a Google and HubSpot certified agency in San Francisco. Andy develops and manages ROI-positive inbound and paid marketing campaigns for B2B & Tech companies. Connect with Andy on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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