The very real dangers of brand bidding and how brands can deal with it
Posted on 2022 Sep,29  | By Artem Rudyuk

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Artem Rudyuk, Country Manager at Admitad MENA, shares his take on the dangers of brand bidding with recommendations for brands on how to deal with it.

Brand bidding is the practice of advertising on branded terms or keywords of a third party, in most cases a competitor. According to The Search Monitor 12% of your clicks are lost to competitors who advertise on your branded search keywords. Without careful monitoring of the use of branded keywords in contextual ads, a company can lose thousands of clients and overpay thousands of dollars in partner rewards. 

The problem of brand bidding or trademark bidding has been affecting the market for a long time a couple of years ago an Adthena study showed that up to one third of all queries now experience brand bidding, driven in part, by 50% of advertisers who engage in competitive bidding on pure brand terms.

Brand Auditor, an ad fraud monitoring tool by Admitad, shared insights on the most harmful types of brand bidding, and ways to counteract them, based on their work with more than 2,500 brands.


What types of brand bidding can hurt your brand?

There are several main reasons ‌why someone uses your brand name or other branded keywords in their contextual advertising campaigns or on their websites. In recent years, Brand Auditor has been continually detecting, tracking and blocking harmful attempts in the following categories of brand bidding:

  • Unauthorized brand usage. Your competitors know that people searching for your products are likely to buy their product too. This is an easy-to-do and successful way for them to capture the attention of the "hottest" audience - your own.
  • Direct brand bidding. Unscrupulous or inattentive partners are interested in easy money. They, as well as your competitors, know that users who use the name of your brand or products in their search query are ready to make a purchase. It's a simple way for others to get higher conversions at lower prices, at a cost of your brand.
  • Landing page brand bidding, including coupon aggregators and showcase websites. Partners use coupons or promo code pages to lure valuable traffic away from your resources and directly to theirs.
  • Unauthorized brand usage through CPA. CPA partners can also partake in unfair and fraudulent activities by using your brand keywords to siphon off already-interested buyers into their own affiliate programmes.


Brand bidding ads often end up among the first links that Google shows to a user. Statistically, the first ad on a Google search results page has an 8% click-through rate. The first non-ad link has an even higher CTR over 30%.

If a user has specifically searched for your brand, it’s unlikely that they will pay attention to whether a result is an ad link or an organic link - they’ll click it anyway.

Therefore, up to 30% of organic traffic searching for your brand or product risks either getting to your site through brand bidding (for which you’ll undeservedly pay a reward), or being channelled to a competitor's store.


Why is it crucial to monitor brand bidding?

The only way to effectively respond to and prevent brand bidding is to receive real-time notifications that it’s happening. Therefore, monitoring services have become an essential part of a business online marketing strategy.

The geography of monitoring is also very important. Brand Auditor experience has shown that the approach of limiting brand bidding services to monitor only in countries that traditionally produced the bulk of contextual traffic countries such as the US, UK, Germany etc. is outdated.

Other regions like India and Brazil are rapidly increasing the volume of their contextual advertising, and their problems with brand bidding are no less acute. That is why it is important to monitor the usage of branded keywords globally, so as not to miss a single use of a trademark word without the brand's full knowledge.


How can you counteract brand bidding?

The threats ad fraud causes to your brand, business and income are very real.

By constantly monitoring competitors for any illegal or malicious activity, many brands have been able to successfully launch their own branded contextual counter-campaigns, protecting their legitimate organic traffic from any encroachments.

Upon being alerted to suspected brand bidding, brands usually have several options for dealing with it, depending on its category type and circumstances:

  • If there is a violation by a partner - you should alert the partner network. If they find out the partner used your banned keywords intentionally, they will remove him from your partner programme.
  • If your branded words are used by a competitor - you can set up a counter ad campaign targeting them yourself, knocking them out of the competition. Usually, it costs you less to use your own keywords, so resistance will be short-lived.
  • If you have a registered trademark for your brand name and a competitor uses that word in the text or image of an ad - service will locate, track and document the content of the ad, enabling you to launch a formal complaint and take legal action against your competitor.


The monitoring, detecting and combating brand bidding is a highly-nuanced field. For every brand or business, an individual approach is important. By using monitoring in your strategy and responding quickly to threats, you can protect your audience and the flow of organic traffic from search engines, save affiliate budgets and timely reflect any competitor attacks.