Content Match Campaigns
Fortunately, there is another method of targeting competitors using Search Engine Marketing that — while not nearly as precise — can generate a significant volume of “competitor” qualified leads without running afoul of Minimum Pricing Rules or potential legal sanctions. The essence of this method is to build Content-Match campaigns constructed from Competitor “branded” terms.
What are Content-Match campaigns? Both Google (especially) and Yahoo have two very different ways to drive click-volume to your site. The most common method is Search — this is what everybody thinks about when they think about buying Search Engine Marketing and Google.
However, Google also maintains a huge network of content affiliates. These are sites with original content who — instead of (or in addition) to selling advertising themselves — add Google ads to their pages. When a visitor clicks on a Google ad, part of the revenue goes to the Publisher and part goes to Google. Because this makes it easy to manage and sell advertising, an enormous number of web sites ranging from very large publishers to very small independents support Google Content Match advertising.
So how does Google choose which ads to display on which sites and pages? That is the essence of Content-Match; Google uses the keywords you enter into your campaign to match to appropriate sites. Most users of Content Match simply take all the Keywords they are buying on Search and convert them into a Content-Match campaign. But you don’t have to do it that way. You can create a separate Content-Match only campaign and stuff it with whatever keywords you desire — including brand names, product names, and any other tasty terms that are highly-qualifying for your business.
The result of this type of Content-Match campaign is that your Google ads will be matched with content that contains references to your competitor’s brands and products — providing a highly qualified content match set that can often be obtained for very little per-click cost.
And keep in mind that your Content-Match strategy is completely black-box and invisible to anyone on the outside — there is no way for anyone to tell what terms you are using to Content-match. What’s more, unlike Search, you aren’t actually responding to a user who entered a copyrighted or trademarked term. It’s really more like you bought an ad in a magazine with an article about your competitor. No harm. No foul. And common enough practice in the print world.
Clearly, any blog, article, or content site sufficiently saturated with any number of competitor names is going to be relevant to your industry. And since users are simply browsing content and not specifically naming your competitor as in Search, CTR on Content should be relatively normal. Finally, since competitor names usually are less in-demand than generic words, this campaign will be cheaper on a CPC basis than a campaign focusing on generic words for which there is more competition.
Content Match Issues
One thing that any user of Google Content-Match should be aware of is that search term to content matching is hardly seamless. Best results are obtained when you monitor the source of leads from a Content Match campaign and immediately eliminate sites (explicitly by domain or using negative keywords — words a target page must not contain) that are poor matches. The broader your set of words, the more important this becomes. It’s a bad mistake to assume that Google is consistently doing a good job of matching.
Targeting competitor brand terms using Content Match can be a surprisingly affordable approach to Search Engine Marketing that generates quality leads without infringing on competitive trademarks or brands.
This is a strategy that’s viable for improving almost any PPC campaign. But it’s especially appropriate for advertisers interested in breaking into any space occupied by larger, better known and more talked about competitors.