Self brand bidding is to bid (and to pay) in order to appear at the sponsored ads slot when people are searching for your own brand name over a search engine.
Funny enough, it is highly recommended by Google, Bing and by any advertising agency. Are they objective? Of course NOT.
From a PPC agent point of view, brand bidding is the easiest way to demonstrate a positive ROI. From an advertiser or brand owner point of view, it fails to prove causality. Are these new customers arrived to your website because of the self brand bidding? What makes these users to search for that brand from first place? (Hint – Not the brand bidding)
If you have an established brand, brand searches might become your biggest marketing cost. If you are using attribution model of last click (If you are using Google Analytics than you are using last click attribution model) your brand bidding campaigns tracking links will overwrite the tracking links of the campaigns made this person to search for your brand from the beginning.
But brand bidding does have few advantageous. First, if you have a big brand, your competitors will ride on your name. By self brand bidding, you are making sure that you competitors will not appear above your organic listing. In some cases, in which you have a big brand and your competition doesn’t have any real barriers (Like Groupon and Living Social) self brand bidding should be considered seriously.
Another advantage for self brand bidding is that it usually drives super high CTRS that increases quality scores and hence helps to stabilize a new account.
Additional consideration should be the SERPs for brand words. If you have a unique brand, your SERP for brand searches must be #1. If for whatever reason this is not the case, you might want to compensate on that with self brand bidding.
Let’s have a look what the big guys, brand savvy advertisers are doing. I searched in Google.com, surfing from an I.P situated in the US and got these results:
eBay.com are doing self brand bidding
Zappos.com are doing self brand bidding
Etsy.com are doing self brand bidding
Elance.com are doing self brand bidding
Odesk.com are doing self brand bidding
Amazon.com are not doing self brand bidding
Paypal.com are doing self brand bidding
Netflix.com are not doing self brand bidding
Hulu.com are not.
So as a wrap up, if you are not focused on killing your competition, you probably have better places to spend your money at. A recommended middle way you might want to consider is to bid on long-tail brand keywords. If you choose this alternative, make sure to put your exact brand as exact negative keyword. Using this method will reduce the odds that you will pay for visitors who would have reach you anyhow.