Marketing:Buying your own brandname keywords- A trick by HootSuite

I have always been intrigued with why a company would buy keywords for it’s own Brand Name, eg: If someone is searching for Maruti, you know they want a Maruti and as per me Maruti stands to gain nothing by buying the keyword “Maruti”. There are various explanations such as

1. Preventing Competition from buying it:

Unless you have a very generic name such as Shaadi , your competitors may not stand to gain much . Yes, agreed that you may not want a customer to showcase their results when someone searches for your name , but it may not justify the high cost of buying a keyword of your own name. Do companies do a cost analysis to see if the Return of investment for buying those ads is justified? A simple test would be to see the CTR with and without your Ad for your Brand name .It may not make economic sense many times

If you have a distinguished brand name, you anyways should be the number 1 results in search. If you are not , it is an SEO problem, much more important to fix than a marketing problem. You are then wasting your money on ads

2. Display specific information:

Some advertisers may contend that they can display some specific information such as a coupon code to the user or point out the most relevant information. My point is ,that  it should be on your website and not search. Assume I am searching for makemytrip , why do I want to see makemytrip cupon as an Ad? I should be seeing it on makemytrip itself.I am anyways going to navigate there most probably  MakeMyTrip may be better off buying keywords such as “cheap flights”. How many customers could be lured by a competitor such as when the user is specifically searching for makemytrip?

My point here is that advertisers tend to sometimes forget the intent of search and try to carpet bomb the user with ads. Intent is much more stronger than distraction(Ads are distractions at the end of the day) .

But finally ,very recently ,I accidentally stumbled upon a legitimate use of buying your own brand name  by looking at ads by  HootSuite .

HootSuite is a social media management website and it buys the keyword hootsuite. Why you may ask?

Well , this is my theory:

HootSuite knows that the user searching for HootSuite is genuinely interested in the product and possibly is a customer. Hootsuite now has 3 kinds of plans

  • Free
  • Pro – Available with 30 day free trial
  • Enterprise-30 day free trial.

It knows that a person who takes a free trial of Pro and Enterprise is most likely to buy the plan ,but most free customers may not necessarily convert .

It needs the free plan to hook the un-interested customers , but it would rather want the interested  customers to simply jump to pro or enterprise. If someone is interested in hootsuite and simply goes for a free account, it is a loss for hootsuite.

Hence , it uses it’s ad to direct users searching for hootsuite to the version of the site that ONLY has pro and Enterprise version but NOT free version.

Is it a good practice? I leave the user to decide about it. Is it a successful practice? Seems so.

Interestingly Hootsuite is using the same trick for other keywords as well, such as people searching for social media management tool. So my assumption that it might only be for people searching for hootsuite is incorrect .I am not even sure if they had this theory in mind? .

I have a hunch that hootsuite is possibly directing users to the free plan for certain keywords that do not display user intent of buying a Social media management tool,but till now I have not been able to find any. I find it ridiculous that when people search for free tool also, HootSuite ads directs them to it’s pro account creation page and not free. The free account is visible only if you go to their website via search results.

Nevertheless, I find this interesting, and this maybe a legitimate reason to buy keywords of your own brandname and still make good economic sense.


HootSuite ads


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