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How to Use PPC to Change Brand Messaging

Some of you might ask: “isn’t all ad copy branded ad copy?” Technically, yes, but I want to start by clarifying what I mean by branded ad copy. For the purpose of this post, branded ad copy is the ad copy tied directly to your brand keywords.

Google Ads Campaign Structure: Brand vs. Non-Brand

Let’s pull it back a bit and discuss one of the most important aspects, if not the most critical aspect to building a successful PPC account: campaign structure. Without getting too far into the nuances of keywords themes, match types, landing pages, etc., it is best to separate campaigns under two umbrellas: brand campaigns and non-brand campaigns. This account structure allows advertisers to segment brand-aware users from new (or unaware) users to a brand.

With the idea of brand-aware customers vs. new customers in mind, we can use this as an opportunity to differentiate the messaging you serve each set of users.

Importance of a Brand Campaign

I’ve heard many clients over the years ask, “Why do I need to run a brand campaign if my website is at the top of the organic search results?” While the concern makes sense, there are several reasons advertisers should run a brand campaign, two of which are:

Brand Protection: If you’re advertising in a highly competitive industry, there’s a likelihood that your competitors are bidding on your brand name. If you haven’t already, check the auction insights on brand keywords to see which advertisers appear.

Low Click Costs: Brand keywords are typically inexpensive – I’ve seen some brand keywords cost below $1/click, but I’ve also seen some brand keywords as high as $7-$10 (which is still very low compared to their non-brand keyword counterparts).

Control Your Messaging: Maybe your website ranks #1 organically, and there are zero competitors in your brand keyword ad space. You might ask: ”why do I need to run a brand campaign if my website is at the top of the organic search results?” My answer is: “Because your organic listing doesn’t look as good as a paid ad.” With a paid brand ad, you can test different headlines, descriptions and ad extensions to create a better brand messaging experience. Brand ads can improve brand awareness and improve product offering knowledge by exposing long-time and new customers to different messaging.

You might think rushing to your SEO team is the answer for a better organic listing appearance, but you might be bummed to find out that Google rewrites your meta descriptions ~70% of the time, so your organic listing might not show up how you wanted it to.

How to Use PPC to Change Brand Messaging

Unlike an organic listing, you can use brand ads to pivot brand messaging immediately. There are many reasons a company may need to change brand messaging. A few examples are:

  • an online store using holiday-specific terminology for a sale
  • a brick and mortar store that recently changed its name
  • sunsetting a product
  • emphasizing a particular aspect of your business offerings because of shifts in demand

The remainder of this blog is going to focus on the last point presented above: “emphasizing a certain aspect of your business offerings because of shifts in demand.”

We recently executed this tactic with a network security client of ours back in May 2020. Previous to the remote work/work from home landscape, our client’s brand ads were an evergreen effort that generally discussed available solutions and benefits that led users to the homepage (a typical user experience).

For example, here are two of the top converting brand ads:

These ads are great for an evergreen effort, but this type of ad and landing page experience did not support the client’s need to shift heavily into increasing awareness of remote work security solutions. Our client developed a landing page to ensure that new and existing customers know that they provide a suite of products specifically for remote worker security.

Below are examples of top-converting ads after we pivoted our messaging:



While part of our strategy was to find new users via non-brand keywords/ads, a vital part of the strategy was to transform the entire brand campaign experience into remote work security. Why?

  • We wanted to increase traffic to a specific landing page to decrease the number of steps to conversion. Current customers and authorized sellers searching for the brand will learn that the brand now offers a new remote work security product suite. If these users already knew of the product suite, then leading directly to the new landing page decreases the number of clicks it takes to find a conversion point, increasing the conversion rate.
  • This strategy supported messaging across other channels. There was a concerted effort to push this product suite across SEM (search and display), social (organic + paid), and email marketing. Once the user decides to search for the brand, they will be met with the most current product focus and will be as relevant to the user as possible; thus, increasing click-through rates.
  • We wanted to ensure users associated the brand name search with a specific offering. Searchers who recently discovered the brand through other general non-brand keywords (e.g. firewall, wifi security) and are searching for the brand are now aware of the new product suite as well. Even if the user was looking for something outside of “remote work security,” sitelinks were in place to ensure users could still gain immediate access to the core product areas; this ad is still relevant to the user.


Comparing the month before and after the brand pivot, users to the site increased by 456%, but this was primarily due to the increase in branded spend. However, as most advertisers have experienced, a significant increase in traffic tends to affect user engagement negatively, but it was the complete opposite for this case.

For the same time frame, we saw the following improvements in user engagement metrics from our brand campaigns:

  • Bounce rate decreased from 49% to 43% (11% decrease)
  • Pages per session increased from 2.52 pgs to 3.12 pgs (24% increase)
  • Average session duration increased from 2min. 13sec. to 2min. 31 sec. (13% increase)

This type of increased engagement shows that users were landing on a relevant page, explored more pages and were more interested in the content.

When comparing longer time frames, bounce rate evens out, but pages per session and average session duration were still higher than the previous period.


While a brand campaign can be general, it should get the user as close to the content they need as soon as possible to drive conversions.

A brand campaign is more than just a tool to improve your brand’s appearance on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page); you can use it to affect how a user experiences your brand. Most campaigns lead directly to the homepage, but it’s also important to test other landing page experiences! While ad copy and landing page tests will vary across different verticals, here are a few ideas to jumpstart your tests:

  • Need to promote an event/webinar to increase sign-ups? Launch ad copy promoting your webinar and lead users to a page with a form.
  • (eCommerce/SaaS) Having a sale? Launch sale-specific ad copy and send users to a landing page with the sale details or lead them directly to the sale inventory page.
  • (SaaS) Struggling to convert old product users to a new product? Target old product names as keywords and send users to a landing page detailing the upgrade process.

Beyond the main ad, there are other elements to test like promotion extensions, price extensions, and sitelinks – all of which you can use to create an entirely new experience for those who know and don’t know your brand.

Have fun testing!

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