Should You Bid On Competitors' Trademarks?

Recently, Google changed its policies to allow European marketers to bid on other companies' trademarks — but surprisingly, the floodgates haven't opened yet. In fact, we're not seeing very much competitive keyword bidding at all in Europe — nor in the UK, where Google has allowed this type of bidding for several years. This got us thinking: What types of marketers should bid on their competitors' trademarked keywords — and which (if any) shouldn't? Is competitive bidding best used as a branding exercise or to generate leads and sales? When you bid competitively, how should you change your creative strategy and your landing page choices? And, critically, how should you respond if you find your competitors bidding on your keywords?

I'm working with my new colleague Lucilla De Sarlo on a report on these topics right now, and we would love to hear your opinions. Feel free to post thoughts in the comments below or to e-mail Lucilla at:


Competitive Bidding - B2B

In my experience (6 years B2B lead gen search), bidding on competitive terms works best if you offer some kind of comparison piece, such as an analyst cost comparison or Forrester report. That way you're addressing the competitive aspect of the term, while still trying to convince and convert prospects to your company vs. the one they searched upon.

Is any brand doing this well righ now?

Thanks Lindsey for your comment and providing an example on what should be a better way of bidding on competitive terms. Do you think there is any brand doing this well right now? Do you think the convertion rate can be compared to other types of keywords? or the ROI for this should be considered differently?

Two of my clients, ShoreTel

Two of my clients, ShoreTel and Dell KACE, both do a good job of referencing analyst reports in ads for competitive terms (see searches for Avaya or LANDesk).

In my experience, competitive terms should have a better ROI and cost/qualified lead than pretty much anything except brand terms for Search. The conversion and qualification rates are typically higher than general terms as well. The only thing better for qualification rates might be if you could convince those prospects to download (and use) a trial, but the click to lead conversion rates for such an offer are typically less on competitive terms because those users need to be convinced to leave their current path of intentions before taking such a step toward a different company. A comparative analyst report does a better job of matching the needs of that stage in the buying cycle for users searching on competitive terms.