Why the SEM Debate? … Just Do It!

I recently read an article by Brad Miller on Search Engine Watch, “Branded vs. Non-Branded SEM,” and it made me wonder, “Why are we still debating this topic?” I’ve concluded that if a marketer is cocky enough to leave its brand exposed, it’s the marketer’s loss. As for my clients and me, we are more than happy to pick up the cheap and easy conversions. Miller’s article took care to not alienate advertisers who refuse to take the plunge by giving the rationale that marketing dollars can drive the decision, but I disagree.

Let’s once again discuss the pros and cons of bidding on brand terms:


  • Message control
  • Protection of brand
  • It’s cheaper and more profitable (low cost per click, high return on investment — or ROI)
  • Own the conversation (space)


  • Cost (free is cheaper)

Debunking an Assumption
Let’s just discuss the cons, or should I say the con, for not bidding on brand terms. We will first debunk the assumption that just because I searched your brand name, I am 100 percent going to click on your organic listing. Not true!  According to a July 2011 study by Google, 89 percent of paid traffic to an advertiser’s site can be lost and not recovered by organic clicks.

Maximize Your Mix
Are advertisers better off maximizing their marketing mix by allocating the little budget required to spend on brand terms, which has proven to be one of the lowest cost vehicles and highest ROI? Or, are they better off allocating those same dollars to another less efficient vehicle? Should we even consider cost a legitimate factor in this instance? Think about it: I have a marketing budget, and my goal is to achieve as much as possible within that budget.

Why are we debating the merits of bidding on brand terms, when time and time again we present data to show the obvious value? Just do it. … Bidding on your brand terms is guaranteed to bring you the highest ROI in comparison to all other marketing vehicles hands down.

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Connie Ross
Connie Ross

As director of search marketing, Connie has nearly 11 years of search marketing experience. She currently works with automotive, CPG and e-commerce clients helping them develop search engine marketing strategies and campaigns that deliver results. She holds an MBA from Xavier University and an undergrad degree in sports management from Bowling Green State University.