The PPC “Dirty Secret” That No One Talks About

If you’ve spent time in the PPC world, you know that performance-based marketing gets all the attention.

After all, “performance” is what most clients want. They’re interested in PPC performance metrics, such as leads, revenue and ROI.

But some PPC pros have a dirty secret: We believe brand awareness is just as important! 

Allow me to use this blog post to explain why brand awareness doesn’t get the attention it deserves—and what can happen when you cut it.

PPC "dirty" secrets

When Budgets Shrink, Brand Awareness Gets Cut

In some businesses, brand awareness is a critical component of their PPC program.

But some businesses are more committed to the idea than others. And the “proof of the pudding” lies in what happens when budgets get squeezed.

I’ve seen it happen time and time again.  

Maybe the business hires a bunch of new employees. Or the executives get paid their bonuses. Or the business decides to move into newer, nicer office space.

And suddenly, the squeeze is on. The business has to take a hard look at its spending.

And many will decide that the place to cut is PPC campaigns that promote brand awareness. 

Why Brand Awareness is an Easy Target

I think brand awareness falls prey to these kinds of cuts for a couple of reasons.

1. Delayed impact

The impact of these cuts isn’t always immediate. You don’t often see an instant drop in revenue (although it can happen).

More often, cutting these campaigns leads to a slow, steady decline that can take weeks or months to fully manifest.

In the meantime, it’s easy to pretend that everything’s fine. And when the decline is finally acknowledged, identifying the cause might take some investigating.

By the time you understand what’s happened and why, it’s become even more difficult to turn things around.

2. Inaccurate self-perceptions

Brand awareness PPC campaigns are also an easy target for budget cuts because most businesses wildly overestimate the level of their brand awareness.

This is understandable. When you’re knee deep in your business and industry, you start to think that “of course!” everyone knows your brand. So what do you need brand-building campaigns for?

It takes a real effort to delude yourself of this type of thinking. Often, it takes unbiased outside research to get an accurate picture of how far and deep your brand awareness really goes.

A Cautionary PPC Tale

So what can happen when you decide to make cuts to your brand-building PPC campaigns?

Let me illustrate with a cautionary tale.

We had a longtime client in a super competitive industry.

Over the years, we’d slowly and steadily built up brand sales. Everything was good and everyone was happy.

But in 2017, things changed.

The CEO became more budget conscious. He decided to switch to an automated solution for the overall management of the account.  

(This kind of switch always makes me nervous. I’ve never seen automated solutions work well unless there are HUGE amounts of data the algorithms can pull from. This client had nowhere near the amount of data needed, in my opinion.)

As a result of this change, we took a back seat on account management. Even so, we continued to provide the client support with Bing Ads and some daily reporting on Google Ads performance.

Unfortunately, the automated solution didn’t work out for the company. The client brought us back in to manage the account—but with more aggressive goals!

Under the new parameters, we could continue to bid on the company’s name, but that was the only brand support we could do.

We had no budget to bid on non-branded terms or utilize other brand building platforms, such as running GDN campaigns.

As a result, brand awareness fell off the table.

By mid-2017, branded sales fell off sharply and would never recover:

A PPC Secret

Nothing else changed within this campaign. It was just a straightforward search campaign bidding on their name.

By December 2018, we were no longer working with the company.

Since then, the company has had to pause all of its PPC campaigns while the CEO tries to get the company back on track. 

It gives me no pleasure to tell this tale. It’s sad to think that this was once a thriving business! I really do hope that the CEO is able to turn things around.

It’s Time to Take Brand Awareness Seriously

So if you’re asking, “Should we bid on brand?” the answer is “yes!!”

In fact, we’re way past that.

Instead, the question to ask is “What are we doing about brand awareness?” or “How can we better support and build brand awareness?”

Because BOTH brand awareness and performance are important.

When you put the two together, you build something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

And when you have only one part—and not the other—you could be putting all of it in jeopardy.

Filed under: Paid Search Strategy

Tagged: ,

Ready to improve your PPC return?Contact us

“You always keep up-to-date with what Google is offering … there’s no way we can catch every bit of what they’re doing!”

Dave Chai, CEO, Outdoor Speaker Depot

More testimonials