Targeting of competitors names and products with paid search campaigns is a commonly employed strategy for High Tech Businesses in Niche Markets. If implemented haphazardly, this practice can result in extremely poor performance and exceptionally high costs.

On the other hand, if implemented with great care and a strong competitive strategy these campaigns can be fruitful in converting searchers into your new customers.

I will cover the issues that these campaigns typically encounter and how best to prevent them from derailing the success of your campaign.

Why Would You Want To Target Their Terms In The First Place?

To have a High Tech website ranking organically for a competitors brand terms would be nearly impossible, so finding a way to be present when people are searching for your competitors is important. It is a sign of competitiveness and prestige that when people search for your competitor that you are right there with them.

This is especially true for the specific technology segments in which your company has a superior offering. If a searcher knows that your competitors offer a specific technology solution, it is important that they know that your company can fulfill that need as well.  All this being said, the most common reason a High Tech company wants to target their competitors branded terms is because the competitor is running ads on their branded terms.

The Issues Competitor Targeted Campaigns Face and Mitigating Them

High Cost Per Click

A difficultly you will likely face when targeting the brand terms of your competition is higher than average costs per click. This is due to the relevance of your ads to the users search affecting your quality score in a negative way. You can really never be relevant for your Competitors name, because inherently you are not them. Google is interested in providing the best user experience for the searcher, so a user might consider a different high tech company’s website a bad experience when they search a specific brand term.

Lower quality scores lead to lower ad ranks, forcing you to increase your bids to enter the auctions for you competitor terms.

Make Each Click Count

To mitigate the high cost of these clicks you really need to make each paid click as valuable as possible. Keywords should be carefully selected to match the Products and Services that your technology competes with each competitor on. The more specific the term, the more relevant your ad text can be leading to a better quality score.

Ad text also needs to be compelling to the searcher, focusing on the reasons that they should choose you over your competition. A general ad is not likely to be enough to catch the eye of a user that is so close to choosing your competitor.

A value proposition or offer can be leveraged to entice users to choose you over your competition. When users are responding well to your ads, Google sees that you are providing a valuable result for that Keyword and you will see increased quality scores and a decreased cost per click.

High Bounce Rates

Unfortunately, many of the clicks that we typically see for Competitor targeted campaigns are of low quality. Searchers are often drawn to the first few results shown, so they may mistakenly click on your ad thinking that it is actually a link to your competitors’ site. These searchers then immediately bounce once they realize that they arrive on a website they didn’t intend to visit.

Something else to consider is the alternate meanings of a Competitor branded term, if their name is a common term, you could be getting clicks from users that are searching for something else entirely.

Have the Right Message in the Right Place

Low quality clicks can be avoided by being exceptionally clear that you are not your competition. Using your brand name in the ad headline is a good way of making sure they know who is providing this specific ad. Also, the use of comparison language in the ads can aid in a searchers understanding that you are offering an alternative to what they just searched for.

If you still seeing a high frequency of low quality clicks, bidding for a position in the right hand column can help to reduce this. People generally reach these ads after clicking on a couple other results making it more likely that they are responding to the message you have provided.  This will also help to dissuade people who are not searching for your competitor from clicking on your ads.

Low Conversion Rates

Clicks from competitor targeted terms tend to have less of a chance of converting into leads than the highly relevant terms for a specific technology product or service. Users that are searching specifically for your competitor generally fall into two categories: they are a current customer of the competitor or they have identified them as a good option to fulfill their technology need.

It can be difficult to convert a customer when they are have chosen your competitor in the past or have already gotten close to making their buying decision. This is a double edged sword, because they can be incredibly valuable users for you, because they are already showing they are qualified with need for the technology or services you offer. Capitalizing on these clicks can produce very high quality leads.

Show The Value

In order to be successful in driving leads from your competitor targeted campaigns it is important that you give the user a great reason to consider you. In the world of High Technology, it is often a longer purchasing cycle that includes deep research and consideration. This is where the landing page for your ads is so important, it needs to give the User the information they need to see that you are a viable option.

Providing comparison data that shows your Technology in a favorable light against multiple competitors is a great way of converting a user to your brand versus your competitor. Just remember, that the comparison needs to be true and factual for this to be effective. If you are providing an alternative product to serve the same need, providing information that directly states how your technology is a suitable substitute is also a viable option.

Finally, price is going to be a big factor in a Clients decision making, so if you have a cost advantage over a competitor, even if it is in the long term cost of ownership, showing this data can help to turn researchers into leads.

In Conclusion, with the right planning and the right message, targeting your High Tech Competitors brand terms can prove to be a great addition to your overall paid search strategy.