Admittedly, I never looked at paid search as a tool to give your brand more exposure. I simply looked at it like many others - clicks and conversions. But, over the last few years, I've come to realize that PPC can be about branding. Here is an actual conversation with a trade show attendee at a recent show:

(Attendee approaches booth and engages us in conversation)

Attendee: I see your ads all the time and thought I’d stop by and see your products.

Me (digging for info): Thank you! Do you mind me asking where you see our ads?

Attendee: I’m a fairly new IT Manager setting up a new network and I’m constantly searching on Google and Yahoo for data networking info. I always seem to see your ads. You guys seem to have just about everything I need.

Me: Can you speak a little louder into the microphone? My review is coming around.

Yes, I did say that and no, he didn’t laugh. Maybe he didn’t quite understand that I live for hearing one of my paid search (PPC) target audience members utter the words that he thinks we have everything he needs because he sees our ads at the right time and in the right place. Although the joke bombed, he stuck around and we got a decent lead.

Where paid search is concerned, I divide my audience into two groups - those that have been touched by our brand and those that have not.

Don’t Know our Brand

I have sets of ads that are focused on keywords that are brand indifferent. These searchers want answers and they’re willing to hear from multiple companies. I’m not as concerned with pushing the qualities of our brand here. I want these people to get to our site so my ads are filled with industry buzzwords that they need to hear in order to feel confident that we can provide the answers for which they’re looking. Some of our brand attributes might persuade them, but I think advertisers get a little quick on the trigger to promote brands to these searchers. Once to our site, our brand messaging plays more of a prominent role.

Know our Brand

I’ve seen some debate among paid search advertisers about the need to bid on trademark or branding keywords such as a company name or company product name. Put me in the camp that you absolutely should be advertising on these terms. Typically, these terms cost less and the amount of advertisers on the search engine results page (SERP) are less. I feel this is where you have a big opportunity to push brand attributes. You can further instill confidence with the searcher by building your brand. They already know you…now you can let them know why they should buy from you.

Don’t underestimate the branding power within paid search advertising! Repetitive exposure to brand messaging through your PPC ads can go a long way in building brand confidence in your customers.

December 6, 2007

Patrick Schaber is currently the Director of Marketing for Transition Networks, Inc – a data networking hardware manufacturer. His experience working for both large and small organizations has given him keen insights into many facets of marketing including, email marketing, advertising, search engine marketing, social media and more. Along with trainings and industry speaking engagements, Patrick authors his own site, The Lonely Marketer, which focuses on the diverse activities and culture related to the small business marketer.


I also think the advantages of being presence in the space around competitors necessary. Search behavior, at times, is very unpredictable and if you can grab another 10-15% direct them to your site, why not pay the negligible CPC.

Great post Patrick. I've seen the branding benefits of it too. For our content writing company,, we get folks who call us all the time because they were "referred" to us from someone they know or work with. We're pretty sure that most of those don't come from anyone that actually knows us or works for us (based on the client's city/state, etc.), but does periodic searches about content services and sees our ad all the time. We always get a good chuckle out of it.

PPC is an excellent way to let targeted searchers know you exist as an alternative to the other business name they were searching for. Generally the bid prices on your competition are very affordable compared with the bid prices for service/product searches. In my industry, I find that people searching for "big name seo person/service/product" is already sold on the idea and, in many instances, the learning curve is generally almost complete.

This allows me to compete on personal contact and pricing. Unfortunately, many in my industry still use the hard sell and pie-in-the-sky approach. For many so called "SEO Firms", business is just a numbers game and the personal approach does not exist.

PPC is a great tool for anyone needing a voice or idea as to the intent of the market, if you know how to use it.

Paid search is getting more and more expensive especially for small businesses. For a lot of companies paying CPC to build brand and not getting conversions is very difficult to justify to upper management.

Great article. Problem is, it's tough justifying that PPC works as a branding exercise for clients as the ROI is tough to measure when a client has many points of sale.
There is definitely a lag when visitors see an ad and then return and buy later, of course their point of entry will be different and trying to persuade the client that the customer would have never bought the product had they not seen the ad originally is a tough one.
I also think that paid search is getting more relevant, especially when I want to buy something, a lot of the organic results tend to be saturated with review sites, information sites or blogs.

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Search Engine Guide > Patrick Schaber > Using Paid Search For Branding