Before Christmas I ran a brand bidding incremental value test for one of my clients. The results showed that nearly all PPC brand traffic was canibalized from organic. We paused the brand campaigns. This is about what happened next.
Mid January, competitor ads on the brand name terms became much more aggressive. We uhmmed and ahhed for a bit because we didn't want to waste money with no direct return but it was also obvious that these competitor ads were causing brand damage. At the end of January the decision was made to re-activate the brand campaigns.
the undo button doesn't quite work the way you think it does
For a variety of reasons (very generic brand name, high rolling competitors, other Google subterfuge) this account had always had a high CPC for brand terms (over $1). When we turned the brand adverts on again the CPCs for the brand campaign were the highest in the whole account. This was not good as it was eating our very limited budget.
To figure out what was going on here I made the following assumptions:
- For these queries and advertisers, quality score is essentially click through rate.
- Google's estimate for our CTR remained unchanged from when the ads last ran.
- The estimate for the CTR of the competitor ads has increased since we stopped running brand ads.
This meant that our competitor's ad rank improved because we left the auction. When we returned our CPCs were higher because the actual CPC is the ad rank of the advertiser below divided by your own quality score.
Using this reasoning I predicted that brand CPC would fall as our competitor's CTR reduced now that our ads were back at the head of the auction.
Two weeks later it looks like I was right: the brand CPC is back to where it was.
I persuaded the client to pause their brand adverts by saying how easy it would be to turn them back on. I did not forsee this CPC increase and if I had the decision might have been different.
Lesson: Keep half an eye on the future when pausing brand campaigns - the undo button doesn't quite work the way you think it does.