The Google Ads Brand Campaign Pandemic

The Google Ads universe is massive. In fact, it could probably rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe (although I think we can all agree that watching superhero movies is more fun than doing Google Ads). Google as a search engine has so many levels to it – from organic search results to branded searches and other paid search options. It’s great! 

That being said, because of how broad Google is, there are bound to be some problems. A sinister problem has been lurking. It’s growing more insidious by the day. Are you scared yet? Good – you should be. It’s zombie apocalypse levels of scary. 

Now, you’re probably wondering about at least three things . . . 

  1. What is this problem?
  2. How do you fix or avoid it?
  3. Who the hell am I to tell you what to do?

To answer those questions (in order, because life is already confusing enough)

  1. The problem is brand campaigns, and specifically brand campaigns within Performance Max campaigns, that give a false sense of profitability due to people finding you by looking up your brand keywords. 
  2. I’m going to tell you how to fix it . . . later in this post. I can’t show my hand right at the start, because that would just be bad marketing!
  3. I’m the owner of Snowball Creations, a paid ads agency, so I have a lot of experience in this niche. I also have a YouTube video on this topic for those who may not want to read through a blog post, because I’m considerate like that. 

Anyway. Let’s dive in.

The illusion of profitability

Google Ads brand search campaigns aren’t a bad thing. The big bad is the fact that these campaigns are often used by ad agencies to mask the fact that their ads aren’t actually profitable. 

Sneaky sneaky. 

Obviously, you want your ads to make money, and it can be tricky to determine whether this is actually the case. If you’re confused, don’t sweat it – this will all make sense in the end.

What are brand searches?

You’re not going to understand much about this post if you don’t first understand what brand searches are. Luckily, it’s pretty self-explanatory. As the name suggests, a brand search occurs when someone searches for the name of your company (in other words, your brand). 

For example, my company is called Snowball Creations. So, if someone searches “Snowball Creations”, that would be a brand search.

This is straightforward and innocent enough. However, the issue is that these searches don’t bring in new customers. The people doing brand searches already know who you are, hence why they’re searching for you. So while you should be investing in brand campaigns with branded keywords, branded search campaigns should not make up an overly large part of your ad spend.

The Performance Max dilemma

I did a whole post a while back about my feelings on Performance Max. Spoiler alert: I don’t like it. And this is one of the reasons. It causes chaos. 

In case you weren’t aware, a Performance Max campaign is a type of ad campaign where you give Google free reign to do whatever they want with your ads, using their highly specialised algorithms. More and more ad agencies are taking the lazy route and opting for this type of campaign. But it’s not always effective.

The brand search trap

You’ve heard of The Parent Trap, now get ready for its sequel: The Brand Search Trap. Taking into consideration what we know about brand search campaigns as well as Performance Max campaigns, you may already have figured out the issue. If not, that’s okay. You’re not stupid. It’s just the end of the year, and your brain is tired. 

Basically, because Performance Max campaigns do all the things all at once, they include brand searches. These are usually hidden in the settings, and quite difficult to turn off.  

But why?

Because it’s a smoke screen. If you’re getting in a ton of brand searches, it looks like your ads are performing great, when in reality, you’re not getting anyone new searching for you, and most of your traffic is coming from people who already know about you and are specifically looking for your brand. It’s similar to organic listings – if someone finds you due to your SEO and own branded keywords, they’re not being pulled in by your ads.

The numbers game

It’s also important to mention that Performance Max gives you a limited data range of either seven or twenty-eight days, which means it’s impossible to accurately analyse past performance. 

Again, this can make ad agencies look like they’re getting impressive results when really, it’s all just click-through rates from your brand search campaigns. It distorts reality and exaggerates things, so that’s another thing it has in common with superhero movies!

Escaping the nightmare

Escape rooms have been all the rage lately, and now I’m here to help you escape from the worst escape room: Performance Max hell. 

It’s got you in its clutches, and you need to get out. I’ve got your back. Hey, maybe I’ve been the superhero in the story all along. 

This is what you’re going to do:

Have a small brand campaign, just to protect your own brand name. 

The rest should go to other paid search campaigns. Non-branded search campaigns are where the real magic happens, so these should make up around 85% of your paid search budget. After all, these are the ones bringing in new customers.

The pandemic of deceptive agencies

The sad reality is that many people hire ad agencies in the hopes of increasing their profitability, and some ad agencies will take advantage of that. Not all of them, of course – my ad agency amongst many others prides itself on having an open and transparent ad approach. 

But a few bad apples may want to make it look like they’re making it rain money, when really, they’re just making it rain. So make sure that the data you’re getting is accurate, and that you’re getting in new traffic, not just brand searches for your company name. 

In conclusion

If you’ve ever tried to run paid ads, you will know that it’s not cheap. Ads cost a lot. Most of the time, they’re worth it because they lead to better turnover. The issue is when there is the appearance of increased revenue, but no real change. 

If you want to learn more about how we would approach a paid ads strategy for your brand, fill in the form down below to get in touch. No illusions here, I promise. We’re advertisers, not magicians. 

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