Any paid search campaign isn’t complete without either an adgroup or campaign dedicated to bidding on competitor names and or brands, however rogue this approach might be…for various reason I’ll not get into until later. The reasons are manifold and I’ll briefly list them out:
1) Highly Qualified – chances are if someone is typing in the URL or name of a director competitor into a search engine they’re far enough along in the conversion funnel to warrant paying for their click assuming your landing page is well optimized and you have relevant content, or value on par with the competition that the searcher had originally sought out.
Keep in mind that if your product or service offers no advantage to the competition’s offering than the best you can accomplish is limited branding. It’s critical that your call to action is a veiled critique of a competitor’s failure. Do you offer shipping at a more competitive rate? Do you do greater volume and charge lower prices? Do you have better service and support? Leverage whatever you can in the PPC ad copy, but avoid the use of superlatives like “lowest” or “best” as Google requires 3rd party verification of these claims.
2) Cheap + Qualified Clicks – Since these MAY be searched for less often than the actual broad product or service word, chances are that they will come at a significantly lower cost per click CPC. I’ll venture out on a limb here and define a competitor’s term as being “long tail” since the volume is low, the clicks are cheap and the clicks are highly qualified.
3) Repeat Business – if someone is actively searching for a brand, more likely than not this means they’re a potential source of repeat business.
So just to reiterate and add one caveat, if you can create a compelling ad that is backed up with a well optimized landing page and compelling product/service offering, than you should’ve already incorporated the names of your competitors into your PPC campaign. Google will not intercede if the term is trademarked…and public corporations aside…the worst case scenario is a “cease and desist” notice.