When your brand is both a retailer and wholesaler, there’s even more complexity layered into the equation. In this blog post, we’re defining a “retailer and wholesaler” as a brand whose products are sold through their own domain/store locations and through large retailers. How do you avoid competing with your own products sold by other websites? What can help you stand out on non-brand searches? Thankfully, there are several strategies that brands in this situation can use in paid search campaigns to minimize self-competition and boost performance.
Core brand terms are those that include a variation of your brand name with no additional words attached – think “Nike” or “Target”. Many retailers seek to maximize brand coverage on these types of terms, using impression share bid strategies to ward off competitors. When you’re also a wholesaler, this can be a more costly endeavor than when you own the full intent of the search. That said, Google does give you some preference as the domain owner, so we recommend sticking with impression share targets for core brand terms on exact match. To potentially reduce costs, you can build good-faith agreements with competing retailers to not bid on each other’s exact match brand terms. The potential cost-per-click (CPC) savings for you, as the wholesaler, should more than offset the value of traffic lost from a selling retailer’s brand term. It may not work out, but it never hurts to ask!
However, when it comes to phrase match core brand terms and brand + category terms (think “Nike shirts”), try testing a return-based bid strategy, like Target Return on Ad Spend (tROAS), to keep CPCs in line with the actual value from a sales-per-click perspective. You’ll likely achieve a fairly strong return on ad spend (ROAS), as there is still very strong intent with a branded search, but can minimize the risk of getting in a bidding war with competitors by only bidding what the traffic is worth to your brand based on its ability to deliver on efficiency goals.
Non-brand queries for all retailers are, by their nature, competitive. The user has not shown a preference for who they’d like to purchase from in their search. When you’re both a retailer and wholesaler, non-brand queries are even more competitive. Not only do you need to win the shopper over to buy your product, you also need to convince them to buy it from you. It’s especially tough when the retailers selling your product can offer shoppers a wider assortment both within and outside of your category.
Modern search campaigns combine broad match keywords, dynamic search ads (DSAs), and responsive search ads (RSAs) in campaigns bid by auction-time strategies. These campaigns can help you take advantage of audience signals and insights not otherwise available to marketers to scale non-brand.
When you can’t differentiate on assortment and price, understanding the customer and their unique needs and behaviors is how you can set your ads apart. Auction-time bidding considers many audience signals to ensure that your ads are showing in the right auctions for the right bid. DSAs and broad match keywords, with the bounds of auction-time bidding, can expose your ads to valuable, incremental traffic. Finally, RSAs can find the right combination of ad text that will resonate with specific users. When used together, these elements create powerful campaigns that can enhance reach and content relevance without sacrificing efficiency.
In a similar vein, it’s imperative to know who your existing customers are and provide that list as a signal to the auction-time bidding algorithms. Customer lists for loyalty program members, previous shoppers, or users with “bonus bucks” to spend tell the bidder that these consumers have a shared commonality that makes them different from other users. If you do use customer lists, you must create a process to update them regularly; otherwise, you risk feeding inaccurate information into the bidding algorithms.
If you can’t beat out retailers selling your product on assortment or price, think about the other ways you can draw shoppers to your ads. If you have a large store footprint, you can showcase that convenience through Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) – with bonus points if you offer flexible shopping options, like curbside pickup. As the product manufacturer, perhaps you have a broader assortment of product images than the big-box retailer. Test different imagery in your Shopping campaigns to make your ad stand out among a sea of similar pictures. Maybe you offer an enhanced customer experience, with features like a virtual fitting room or a generous “try it free for 90 days” return policy – communicate those benefits clearly via text ads. There are many reasons customers continue to shop with you instead of the other retailers selling your products; shout them from the rooftops so potential customers know about them, too.
Competition is always tough on paid search, and it’s amplified if your brand wholesales. By taking advantage of modern search campaigns, testing different bidding approaches for brand terms, knowing your audience, and finding ways to differentiate, you can still run an efficient search program that reaches your target customers.