Wojtek Skalski
November 30, 2023

To bid or not to bid on competitor brands in Google Ads? 

Google lets you do this, but should you?

In some industries, like gaming boosting services, companies aggressively mention a competitor in ad copy, accusing them of scamming clients. In others, such as certain professional services, merely appearing in searches for a competitor's name can lead to legal threats.

The real question is about the extent of engagement in such tactics. I've compiled a simple 0-5 scale to measure the intensity  of competitive ads:

0️⃣ Nope: Avoiding this strategy. No visibility in competitive searches.

1️⃣ Subtle Presence: Appear in competitor searches without referencing them.

2️⃣ Indirect Comparison: Ads suggest your product as the superior option in the category.

3️⃣ Specific Claims: Ads implicitly highlight your advantages (cost, ease, etc.)

without naming competitors.

4️⃣ Name Dropping: Directly mention competitors and assert your superiority.

5️⃣ Gloves Off: Aggressively challenge competitors by name.

Choosing the right option for you involves several considerations:

✅ Evaluate industry norms as a baseline. If the industry standard is 0, don't escalate to 5. Conversely, if it's 3 and competitors target your brand, consider a similar level.

✅ Initiating this strategy may provoke retaliation. Are you prepared for competitors to mirror your tactics?

✅ For ongoing campaigns, target searches for "alternatives to [Competitor]" rather than directly targeting the competitor for better effectiveness.

✅ Using a competitor's brand in your ad copy carries legal risks. These vary based on industry norms and brand recognition. (In most cases though, it starts with a warning sent via email or postage.)

✅ Decide where to direct your traffic: a main page or a comparison site. If the latter, use publicly available data like pricing and ratings. Try to be objective - acknowledge competitor's strengths where appropriate.

It's not a straightforward decision; it's a spectrum. How far will you go?