Home > Articles > Business & Management

Beaten at Your Own Name: Buying Your Brand

  • Print
  • + Share This
Kevin Lee shows that relying on organic search results may not always be the best choice for getting consumers to your branded websites.
This chapter is from the book

Beaten at your own name: Buying your brand

  • Are you getting beaten by your own name? Buying your own brands and trademarks in PPC search can present a serious strategic dilemma, particularly when that brand as a keyword ranks number one in organic search. This is something mega-marketer Procter & Gamble faces with one of its largest brands, Head & Shoulders shampoo. Searchers using this term will see several organic listings (one from P&G’s international site, another from a U.S.-based site, and a listing from Wikipedia). I’m sure that P&G would rather have searchers go to the site most likely to persuade searchers of Head & Shoulders’ virtues, but by relying on an organic-only strategy, it cedes this all-important decision to Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft.

All search engines recognize a site with sufficient quality content might deserve two organic result slots. This might also be the case for those who put time and energy into building sites to be search-engine friendly so that they are full of useful, relevant content.

When deciding between paid and organic, you can consider the situation as you might with real estate: More is better. Yet given a fixed budget, many marketers assume with one or two organic links, searchers will find those links and click. Those marketers prefer to allocate their search budget to generic or nonbranded product/service keywords that describe either the problem solved or other relevant ideas. The thinking goes, “Better to spend money acquiring new customers who don’t yet feel strongly enough about my brand to search for it by name.”

Sometimes, that line of reasoning makes sense. But there are some critical issues to consider if you struggle with whether to buy your brand name in PPC search, as follows:

  • Does your competition buy your brand keyword? If so, you risk losing customers who thought enough of your brand to actually search for it. That search might even have been the result of your on- or offline advertising that piqued curiosity.
  • Does your retail or reseller channel buy the brand keyword? If so, it might seem like good news because you’ll get the order through the channel. But if your resellers and retailers aren’t in an exclusive relationship with you, you risk a cross-sell to the competition, even on your licensed retailer’s site. This is very common in the travel business, where a searcher is indifferent to the subtleties between three hotel brands she considers a close match in amenities, service, and other attributes. One brand’s search transforms into another brand’s booking. The same could occur with Head & Shoulders if drugstore.com is a bidder in all three top PPC engines and enables visitors to link to the “Hair Care” category from the Head & Shoulders results page. Even a modest cross-sell makes sense for the merchant if it pays for the click.

  • Do your affiliates buy your brand keyword? If you let your affiliates buy your brand keywords instead of buying them yourself, you give your affiliates a huge gift. Affiliates often make a five-to-one return on buying brand keywords. For every $5 you pay them, they pay only $1. Flip it around. You overpay by a factor of five for the orders or leads the affiliate generates.
  • Do you feel lucky or do you want control? The search engine will pick a page to suggest to the searcher, use that HTML Title tag, and then select some copy from your body or description meta data. Is that the message you want people to see? Will the organic link’s landing page provide the highest conversion? Subpar front- and back-end messaging can confuse a searcher or derail a sale. PPC listings help control at least one message and user experience invoked by the searcher by clicking on a listing.
  • Do you want to bifurcate your audience or engage in self-selection filtering? People responding to and engaging with organic links might represent a discrete population from those selecting paid links. Similarly, different customer clusters might respond to promotional messaging versus educational messaging. With paid search’s controllability, you can provide options so that people can self-select.
  • Is regional message control important? PPC search provides a high level of geographic message control. Search is the first medium in which channel conflict is so pronounced that the conflict level often reaches across company departments and can involve regional aspects as well (due to distribution agreements).
  • Do you have a negativity problem? Some brands have a problem with unhappy users posting poor reviews or even “sucks” pages. Paid listings appearing on top of the organic results can push negative pages lower on the results page.
  • Do you understand the interaction effects between organic and PPC? Run simple cannibalization tests by pulse-testing your paid listings on brand terms. You measure the incremental cost of acquiring leads, clicks, and purchases through paid listings, even if there is some cannibalization of organic traffic. By focusing on the marginal ROI or profit, you can get a better handle on brand search’s real value. Even a good pulse test measure of cannibalization doesn’t always tell the whole story. The customer purchase cycle often includes two to six (or more) searches, according to a comScore/DoubleClick study. Paid and search clicks occur all the way through the decision process; some are paid, some are organic, but all might influence a final purchase. Consider a more in-depth test across organic and paid traffic to gain a better understanding of your brand name’s incremental value as a search term.

Traffic from your brand keywords is the most valuable to you, the brand owner, but it’s also valuable to your competition and reseller or retail channel. A person who types in a brand name is much more likely to know exactly what she wants, but she might be open to suggestion. Don’t get beaten on your own name and lose this customer.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020