Competitor campaigns were once a staple of a good Adwords account but there has been a massive shift over the past 12 months.
A competitor campaign is where you use competitor brand names as keywords in your Adwords campaign. The theory behind this type of campaign is that if someone is searching for your competitor then they are likely to have an interest in your product or service too. This means highly targeted traffic is sent to a site and the cost per click in a lot of industries is much cheaper than product specific keywords. Most competitor campaigns usually see a good ROI due to this. There are of course some industries where this isn’t the case and occasionally competitor terms actually have a higher CPC than product specific keywords. But this isn’t the norm.
Traditionally I have found two problems with competitor campaigns. Firstly some clients don’t understand exactly what targeted traffic is. For example, someone may sell lawn mowers but then ask me to target B&Q as a competitor. B&Q offer a far too broad selection of products to target them. Click through rate would be terrible and any traffic is unlikely to be targeted. The other problem was that some companies will email an advertiser threatening legal action if they do not stop targeting their brand name. There is nothing illegal in targeting a competitors brand name and Google actively encourage companies to do this but you will find a lot of advertisers immediately get scared and ask to stop targeting that particular competitor.
But in 2017 a new problem has materialised and this could threaten the use of competitor campaigns altogether. Across several industries and several countries I have been told by clients that people have begun clicking on adverts from competitor keywords and call the advertiser thinking that the advertiser is in fact the competitor. In most instances when the person finds out that the advertiser are not the competitor, they put the phone down.
My theory behind this is that people are so used to finding the information that they want on Google straight away that they just click on the first number that they find and call it. Potential work arounds may be to take call extensions away from competitor campaigns but a phone number may still appear via automated extensions that Google now run. So that isn’t the safest solution. I’d like to trial not running on mobile for competitor campaigns and believe that may be the answer. This can be done via settings, devices, bid adjustment and then ‘decrease by 100’. Unfortunately none of my clients have given me permission to try this yet. When they start receiving calls for competitors they worry they are wasting money and want to stop the competitor campaigns immediately. Hopefully stopping competitor campaigns appearing on mobile devices will correct the issue and I am going to ask some of my clients if I can trial this. If my trials are not successful then competitor campaigns may well have to be left in 2017.