Brand v Non Brand Marketing

The inclusion of brand terms within benchmark has long been something that customers appear to want to discuss, so often have we found ourselves explaining this that we thought it was about time we wrote a piece on it, so here goes.

First and foremost: The inclusion or exclusion of brand has no overall statistical bearing on your guarantee. That’s right we said exactly what you thought we said and here is why.

Benchmark creation is designed to be fair to all parties by taking into account performance over a given period for a given spend against given agreed outputs reported using an agreed reporting platform ie.

Twelve months

Budget of £10,000 per month
To achieve form fills

If at the end of the 12 month period we include the brand terms in the example above

Brand included – Conversion total output = 191
Brand excluded – Conversion total output = 117

CPA (Brand included) – £628.27
CPA (Brand excluded) – £1,025.64

Customers may want to go for the £628.27 which is fine but certain customers feel they are getting (more than feel they insist) they are getting something better in the brand excluded option of £1,025.64. Often with an associated perception that Adrac will, for some reason, work harder if brand is excluded.

Statistically, provided the benchmark creation and the guarantee stage are consistent, There Is No Difference as the data has been accounted for in the Benchmark creation phase to ensure that the litmus or control performance is in place to develop and optimise whether the base performance is 191 or 117 or whether the Guaranteed and agreed CPA is £628.27 or £1,025.64.

So why do some customers insist on “Removing brand” below we have included some of the most common reasons and our opinions on them…

“We don’t want to include our existing customers”

A flawed argument or an over simplification at best; simply removing brand terms does not remove existing customer sales and here are some the reasons why:

Whilst there is an argument that an existing customer could type in the brand and would then navigate to the site to make an order there is just as potent an argument that an existing customer would search for the product they require and click on the “recognised advertiser” to ensure they arrive at the most relevant page in order to complete their requirements. Essentially using the search engine to navigate the site externally and arriving at the best location.

Search behaviour analysts find search term usage and behaviour of existing v new customers is determined more by need than the categorisation of customer type (Search engine land did a brilliant article on this) concluding customers – whether new or existing – used specific terms related to an immediate need developing a greater order proportion than items where the need was more discretionary so data suggests that the decision and conversion path your existing customers chose is decided well before the search term and is more influenced by the “when they need the product or service” than who they will buy from.

Behaviour is affected by device (that’s for both existing and new customers) with both customer categories showing higher than brand conversions when using mobile devices again with a possible argument being navigational habits where search engines are used over the website to streamline the order process.

Existing customers are willing to search and navigate to lower positions where new customer new order proportions tend to be lower in the lower positions whist existing customers who typically might not find you on the brand term are willing to search for you using a specific product or service term and navigate further down the results to find you so by removing brand you inadvertently influence product search conversion rates.

“I don’t want to pay for existing customers”

One of the most frustrating arguments on this topic. Existing customers should be welcomed with open arms with rewards and incentives to come to the store or service again – it’s a basic tenant of business it costs significantly less to sell or retain an existing customer than it does to secure a new customer so why would you (for the sake of a cost of a click) make it more difficult for your existing customer, looking for you service to visit your website at the time they are looking to use your service again?

“I feature in the organic searches”

No you do not, yes that right we said exactly what you thought we said just because you can see yourself there doesn’t mean that you customers can. With the advent and drive in personalised search: user behaviour, search term usage, click behaviour and a number of other factors are taken into account at the browser and device level by search engines to try and get the most relevant, most accurate search experience for the searcher and that means results ordered differently.

If that’s not enough you will have heard: Organic search comes with no guarantee algorithm changes, competition changes, penalties and ranking factors by device all mean that you will have seen position fluctuations and with a click through rate change of circa 75% between position one and position three why would you risk it?

One last point: studies show an overall 20% uplift in performance when multiple positions feature the same brand or url so that’s an improvement on both organic and paid search: for the cost of a click.


Every business should be looking to tie online orders to existing customer profiles as best as possible as data is king however every business should also be making it as easy as possible for existing customers to be able to use the business service.

Removing brand terms from paid search advertising in our opinion is flawed and a self-defeating argument especially when you consider that if the data is included or excluded in the creation phase of any analysis it cannot statistically impact the required outputs because the litmus level or start point includes or excludes the data.