The science of brand bidding: Follow-up and FAQs

The pros and cons of bidding on your own brand terms can keep you running in circles. On one hand, bidding on your own brand terms could be a waste of money if your organic results are showing up anyway. On the other, what do you lose (or, what’s the cost) when you don’t invest in bidding on your brand terms?

The data scientists at Bing Ads wanted answers on the brand-term bidding question, so they created tests, conducted the study and compiled the data. Led by Lars Hirsch, our Director of Advertiser Science at Bing Ads, we recently hosted a webinar that detailed the research results and explained the consequences to advertisers who choose to bid on their own brand terms – and likewise, the consequences if you do not. Not only that, we shared how you can run this test with your own data so you too can answer the bid or not to bid question.

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As promised, we’re answering questions we didn’t have time to get to during the webinar and including a quick recap of the most popular questions. If you’d like to share other thoughts or have more questions tell us in the comments or use #AskBingAds on social to join the conversation.

Right. Let's get to it.

Q. The SEO team discourages bidding on brand terms because they will negatively affect organic traffic for brand queries. How do I determine if paid brand keywords are cannibalizing organic traffic?

A.  When it comes to brand-term bidding, partnering with your SEO team is important. Your SEO team needs to know what keywords you’re bidding on and you need to know what terms they’re optimizing for. So this is a great time to work together. Start by sharing our research results and vertical data, found in the webinar content. Then set up your own test (instructions also in the presentation) and share the results. The data doesn’t lie; we suspect your gain in total clicks across organic and paid search as a result of bidding on your own brand terms will convince the SEO team that it’s a good strategy to try. If you don’t see significant increase in total clicks (across your organic and paid results), then brand-term bidding might not work well for you.

Q.  Wait. Are competitors allowed to bid on my business name?

A.  You bet they are. And you can bid on theirs. This policy varies a bit by market; take a closer look at our intellectual property policy and other editorial policies. Note that you can bid on their name with keywords; you cannot use competitor’s names in your ad copy (some rare exceptions can apply).

Q.  How is the brand ad data affected when there is a news story about the company brand?

A.  It depends on your brand and on how national the news story is. If you are testing brand ads by geography (rather than by day of week), and the news story is national, both your control and your test should be equally affected. If the news story is local (say, in Boston) and you’re running tests in Boston and Chicago, then the Boston news story will skew your results and you might want to exclude the results from both Boston and Chicago. If you’re testing brand terms by day of week, and a news story affects just one day disproportionately, you might want to exclude that day from the dataset.

Q.  I’d love to see how other industries/verticals fare in the brand bidding testing. Do you have any of these results available?

A.  To date we’ve published our research data in the financial services, retail and travel industries. If you have a Bing Ads account manager, ask to see our data for your specific vertical.

Q. What if there is nobody advertising for my brand terms?

A.  In this case, your risk from competitors is low, but the research shows that you’d still benefit from an increase in total clicks by running brand ads and bidding on your own brand terms. Take a look at the real data examples below: when the social network brand added a brand campaign the number of clicks increased even without the presence of a competitors ad.

 bing ads brand terms

Q.   Does it matter if your business is local and effectively targets customers within a five to ten-mile radius, such as gymnastics or martial art schools?

A.   With local businesses, running the tests based on geography doesn’t make sense, but testing on a day-of-week basis does. Set up and run the day of week test and then review your results. You may not be dealing with the competition that a bigger brand would, but you still have an opportunity to increase the totally number of clicks you receive, according to our research.

Q.  What if your brand is not in the top three in organic search? Does this still help?

A.   Yes. If you’re not showing on the first search results page organically, the only way you’re going to get clicks for your business is to do paid search. Paid search gives you the power to show up as high as your budget (and ad quality) allow. A paid campaign can help support the rank improvement of your organic listings as a result of adjustments you’ll have to make in order to have a high performing paid campaign: landing page optimization, keyword research, ad copy refinement and testing.

Q.  In your testing, did you look at exact match brand, or brand-broad and brand plus modifier?

A.   Our research looked at all ads aggregated across all match types.     

Q. To clarify, those competitor organic clicks had brand identification?

A. Yes they did.

Q. How did competitor's get 39% of the clicks in the travel example? Weren't the keywords trademarks so competitor's couldn't bid?

A. You cannot use trademarked terms in your ad copy, but you can bid on those keywords.

Q. What is an average impression share a brand receives when brand ads are not being displayed?

A. We only looked at click share, not impression share. The average click share is 75%, but it varies a lot by vertical and type of advertiser/product. For example, for some retail brands we have seen click share in the 35-40% range when the brand owner is not advertising.

Q. My company's brand name does not lend to recognition for our product line but in fact is competitive with a comedian who has an ongoing show in Las Vegas. What can we do to be competitive but not at a high CPC? Do you have any suggestions for testing keywords?

A. Your best bet is going to be using negative keywords, which will prevent your ad from showing on terms related to the comedian. For example, -LasVegas, -comedian and -show will go a long way to preventing your ad from showing on a search that's not yours. For keyword research and testing, give Bing Ads Intelligence a try.

What's next?

Check out the webinar if you missed it and get the content to help you set up and run your own brand bidding test. Once you have your results make sure to act on them and implement!

Watch the webinar

Brand Bidding content

Don’t miss out on our next Advertiser Science webinar! You can register now:

Register: The Kevin Bacon Approach to Keyword Attribution

Date: February 29, 2016

Time: 11:00am-12:00pm PST

We’re excited to share more research and insights from Bing Ads and to hear your thoughts in the comments and at #AskBingAds.

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#BingAdsStories: Motoroso revs up with help from Bing Ads

bing ads storiesBing Ads brings results for small businesses, digital marketing agencies and now: car-lovers.

It’s true; the latest Bing Ads Customer Success Story features CEO and lifelong car enthusiast Alex Littlewood, who has seen “more targeted, more refined, better traffic for a better price” with Bing Ads. The team at Motoroso – a market network where automotive enthusiasts can find ideas, get inspiration and plan their restoration projects and creations – uses tools like Bing Ads Editor to plan, manage and optimize its campaigns.

Want to put the pedal to the metal with your Bing Ads campaigns? Read the full story to find out how Motoroso uses Bing Ads to find its highest return on investment.

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Rik van der Kooi on the value of search at #IP2016

Today at the AdExchanger Industry Preview in New York, Rik van der Kooi, CVP of Microsoft Search Advertising, took to the stage with John Ebbert, Executive Editor at AdExchanger, to discuss some of the key factors influencing the evolution of advertising and Microsoft’s own strategy.

bing ads rik van der kooi

Some of the key takeaways were:

  • Search is an increasingly valued marketing vehicle which offers truly integrated marketing intelligence. When search goes beyond web search to permeate services, devices and platforms, as it does with Bing, the depth of consumer understanding is far richer and the intelligence provides powerful insights for marketing success.
  • Every click matters to a marketer, but some clicks matter more than others. As an industry, marketers need to come together to develop experiences that delight consumers. We need to focus on making commercial interactions more valuable, by connecting data that is currently siloed on behalf of the consumer. Search plays a key part in this, as marketers want to continue to understand the direct relationship between the click, the conversion and purchase decision. We have an opportunity to deliver for consumers and marketers through the integration of CRM Online, Azure, Power BI and search data for marketing effectiveness. 
  • Search Advertising continues to grow significantly as an industry and at Microsoft (as reported by AdAge last week). The growth is organic, supported by integration across Windows 10 services (now running on over 200 million devices!) as well as being driven through syndication partnerships (most recently with AOL). Combined, Bing powers nearly one third of US searches today.
  • Search innovation in the next 5 years will outperform that of the last 10. In the near future, Rik sees search marketing growing from keywords to audience to actions, empowering consumers to take action inside of their search experience and on other services. He's also fascinated with natural language, the evolution of communication between people and technology which will open up a massive playground for advertisers in formats well beyond those of today. This starts with personal assistants such as Cortana and Siri, but also includes opportunities within chat services and more.


If you were not able to be in NYC, please note that the fireside discussion will be available for viewing the week of 25th January. 

For a more search focused 2016 industry preview, please visit the recent blog post that summarizes the top marketing buzzwords of 2015 and offers 7 predictions for 2016 for search from David Pann, GM, Search Advertising Microsoft.

Questions? Comments?

Feel free to ping us on Twitter, visit us to ask questions at the Bing Ads Answers forum, submit and vote on your top-priority features at the Bing Ads Feature Suggestion forum, or send us your feedback directly at

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Make smarter connections to achieve more this tax season

bing ads tax season ebookTax season is here, and many U.S. residents want to file their 2015 tax returns as soon as possible to get their refunds to help pay off holiday bills, make home improvements and start planning vacations. Searches peak in early February when people get their W2s and again in April as the filing deadline approaches.1

This may be a niche segment of your client portfolio, but it’s one that can yield huge returns on PPC ads given the audience’s strong reliance on search. Here at Bing Ads, we want to help you make smarter connections to achieve more. With that in mind, we’ve put together the 2016 Bing Ads Tax eBook to give you the latest insights and tips you need to help your tax related clients’ search advertising campaigns make an impact on their customers.

bing ads tax season ebook

Did you know that tax services is a $9.3 billion industry in the U.S.?2 Did you also know that the IRS does not advertise? It’s true, so tax season offers a wealth of opportunities for tax related businesses. Last year nearly 90% of invidual tax returns were filed electronically, which means filers are most likely searching online for products and services.3

The numbers are your best asset:

  • Electronic filing has increased 30% since 20093
  • 120.6M people filed their taxes electronically in 2015.4
  • Less than 6% of Americans are unemployed, so filing volume will be high in 2016.5


The Bing Network’s tax season net worth:6

  • 5.3M total tax searchers
  • 12M total tax searches
  • 53% of all tax-paid clicks
  • 48% of tax searchers not reached on Google


Use this information and focus on streamlined targeting with Location Extensions and Call Extensions, keyword and content improvement, and take advantage of new tools and features that enhance your search advertising campaigns to optimize your tax season efforts.

In addition to the Tax eBook, you can find even more marketing research and resources on the Agency Hub.

Questions? Comments?

Feel free to get in touch with me via Twitter (you can also ping us @BingAds), visit us to ask questions at the Bing Ads Answers forum, submit and vote on your top-priority features at the Bing Ads Feature Suggestion forum, or send us your feedback directly at


1. Microsoft internal analytics – Bing Ads (Bing and Yahoo), Owned & operated, daily data, January 1 to April 20, 2015.

2. IBISWorld Industry Report 54121d, Tax Preparation Services in the U.S., Gavan Blau, April 2015.

3. Data analysis on IRS Weekly Filing Season Statistics, 2010-2014 and May 2015.

4. National unemployment rate, IBISWorld Business Environment Report, June 2015; IRS, IRS Filing Season Statistics for week ending May 15, 2015.

5.  National unemployment rate, IBISWorld Business Environment Report, June 2015; IRS, IRS Filing Season Statistics for week ending May 15, 2015.

6.  comScore qSearch (custom), U.S., March 2015; industry categories based on comScore classifications.

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