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Brand PPC: a Waste of Money?!?

The Microsoft/Atlas study reminds me of the famous Mark Twain quote: "There are 3 kinds of untruths in this world: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
New research by Microsoft suggests a big chunk of search ad spending is wasted because advertisers pay top dollar for high ad placements clicked by consumers who are en route to their sites anyway. Listings tied to such "branded" keywords, typically a company's name or products, eat up about half of search budgets, Atlas estimates. "The reality is those people are already intending to go to your Web site," said Young-Bean Song, vp of analytics for Atlas, formerly part of aQuantive and now a unit of Microsoft. "What you're really paying for is a glorified Yellow Pages listing." Atlas studied 30 search ad campaigns reaching 120,000 users on Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft. It found that nearly half of clicks on ads came from people who had already visited the advertiser's Web site. Moreover, about 60 percent of visits came from "branded" words, like the company's name, while just 29 percent were from people who searched for generic terms and had never been to the advertiser's Web site—the type of new customers search is meant to attract. -- Brian Morrissey, AdWeek, Are Search Ads a Waste of Money?
I hate to be snippy, but whose search programs did they study? Our 100+ clients aren't spending anywhere close to 50% of their money on brand ads. The average is about 5%. It does get higher for folks who are manufacturers competing against their distributors on their brand name, but to suggest that 50% is the norm is irresponsible! Either these folks were studying incompetently managed PPC programs, or they were looking at Hitwise traffic reports that don't distinguish between paid and organic traffic. In either case, they should know better than to issue misleading statistics, and if they don't know better... To the question: is it worth any money to advertise on your brand name and trademarks? I think the answer is 'yes'. Granted, by and large the people searching for you by name are likely to find your site and buy from you regardless of whether you have an ad running. However, by spending a little money, you can:
  1. Control your brand message
  2. Tout short-term offers to steer their visit and add urgency
  3. Prevent brand squatting by your affiliates, saving commissions to those thieves, and
  4. Prevent "Broad Matching" algorithms, and unscrupulous practices from putting your competitor's ads above your natural search link for brand searches
Are these benefits worth a fortune? No, but they're worth something.
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