This is not another typical blog post about whether it is better or not to advertise for brand words. This post talks about the brand campaign that was used to track “level of brand awareness” for one of our clients. This campaigns was also used to monitor the behaviour & appearance of new competition.
If you want to immediately see results and conclusion of this article – you can skip all this here
When we started with this client it was immediately decided that “brand campaign” will not be taken in calculation of the cost-effectiveness of AdWords campaigns. Of course, brand campaigns have very small CPC, which is why the average monthly investment to cover all brand queries is less than 3% of the total budget. In addition, from time to time we see emergence of new competition which is advertising for client brand keywords.
Main problem of this client is a large number of competition thru AdWords advertising. Besides for his brand keywords, they are also showing their ads for same/similar products. We can say that potential customers are seeing a large number of ads for different brands (competition).
In addition to the fact that competition is quite large, it is also growing very rapidly. Thus, on an annual basis we see growth in the number of competitors from 250% to 300% (see picture below).
We must not forget that in analytics we can no longer see for which keywords users have come to our website (organic, not paid channel). There are certain capabilities via search console (formerly webmastertools) to see the inquiries but not for a very long period of time (also, we recommend to link together analytics and search console).
In short, the facts are:
Because of all the above facts, it was decided that brand campaign will be an indicator of own “branding level”. The concept is quite simple – if there is a decrease in number of searches for brand queries then brand awareness decreases, if there is an increase in number of searches for brand queries then brand awareness is growing. This is rather simple way of “measuring” – but, due to its simplicity it is just perfect if you want to immediately see the results (of your marketing efforts).
Before we look at some of the results it is necessary to note that adwords brand campaign is not the only “source” on the basis of which we are deciding on the level of brand awareness. It was one of the indicators.
The picture below shows us the number of impressions during the last two years (for a brand campaign). We will use this chart to show you certain information about brand awareness and competition activity.
We shall look at impressions rather than clicks (although they are very closely related and have the same leaps and falls during observed months). It is very important that for a Brand campaign we have impression share as close to 100%. At the same time, we also do not have any lost impressions due to restricted budget or due to low ad positions.
In the upper chart we can see the first period of a few months where we had about 99.5% Impression Share but also at the same time we had lost IS due to rank (very small – about 0.5%). This is a sign that for our brand (keywords) there were competitor ads. After these few months (figure 1 in the picture) competition have calmed down.
Of course, we have quite raised our bids on our brand words, so it’s very likely that their CPC was quite big because of that. However, it is clear that they continued to advertise for our brand keywords (lost IS due to rank was never 0%).
Then came a sudden jump (number 2 in picture above) in lost IS due to rank. In that month we have seen the arrival of new competitors that have started to advertise for client brand.
For very short period of time we have seen an CPC increase of nearly 90% on our own ads/keywords because of these new competitors. After certain interventions in our campaign (raising the bids) their ads have dropped below first position.
Once again we see a big drop (of search impression share) at the end of the 3rd period. What we have noticed is that again there has been a large arrival of completely new competitors. These competitors have begun increasingly targeting our own brand keywords.
In this way, thru Brand campaign, we can very quickly and easily see when the competitors are advertising for our brand words, when new competitors emerge and so on.
Note: Our impression share for the whole period was over 99% and lost IS due rank was below 1%. From time to time we have still lowered our own bid (on our brand keywords) because we’ve seen that in return it reduces CPC while still keeping the first position of our ad. In addition, as shown in the image below, we can see that the competition was advertising all of the time for our brand words.
Note: our bid to “our brand terms” was very high due to the situation in this segment (number of competitors). We were sometimes shocked to see how much money is competition willing to spend on clicks for someone else’s brand!
Tip: you can easily make automated rules to email you when your “brand terms” are not in first position – in that way you instantly see what your competition is doing 😉
Let’s go back to our impressions and what we can see when we had different types of campaigns (non-brand) active or paused.
During the first period (number 1), we had active display campaigns (besides web pages we had also specifically targeted Youtube placement) – we saw tremendous growth of impressions (for brand search terms). During the 2nd period we had active display campaigns BUT without targeting youtube placement. We see that there has been a slight decrease in number of impressions.
In 3rd period we once again had active youtube display campaigns. We immediately saw noticeable jump in the number of impressions.
We can see that we had 20% less impressions during 2nd period. After activating youtube placements we had saw rise but it was still below 1st period levels (92%).
Note: Products sold by the customer are not seasonal – they are used throughout the whole year. Activation of specific types of campaign is clearly visible/related on the graph. If it came to seasonality then we would not see this kind of results (ups and downs) that correspond to the activation of specific types of campaigns.
It is interesting that we have seen the greatest number of impressions when the client decided to advertise on TV (number 1). Also at that time we had active display and YouTube campaigns. During this period he had the most searches for brand queries in last 2 years.
But, it is also interesting to compare the 2nd period to 3rd period. The difference is that during the 2nd period we had active display campaigns, while during the 3rd period we had active only search campaigns. We can see a big drop of impressions during this 3rd period (in which we did not have an active display campaigns). After that period, we have again activated the display campaigns and although the improvement is obvious – it was not to the extent that was expected.
Note: we have warn the client of drop in number of impressions and that this is sign that his brand awareness is falling down. We have advised him to keep his display campaigns active all the time but he did not want to spend additional budget on it.
Unfortunately, there is apparent decline in number of searches (impressios) for “brand” words when there are no active display campaigns. Here we can conclude that it is necessary to have a display (branding) campaign active all the time – because the competition is also constantly growing.
Therefore, it is necessary to constantly “keep” high level of brand awareness. It is necessary to keep high awareness levels of brand “existence” in potential buyers of your products/services.
We can see a lot based on the brand campaign. We can see how the different type of campaigns affected the brand awareness (number of impressions). In addition, we can see the behaviour of the competition (if competitors are advertising for your brand – you must have a brand campaign).
Obvious answer to question “can we use brand campaign as measure of brand awareness?” is – yes, we can.
But, we are not talking that brand campaign should always serve to measure “brand awareness”. We have some clients where such campaigns are not required (for branding purposes or for profit purposes) – it all depends from client to client.
We recommend testing the “brand” campaigns and measure results in order to make the right decision on the merits of “Brand” campaign.