In one of our previous blogs, we talked about techniques you could use to make your Google Ads more successful. One of the techniques we mentioned was using competitor keywords – taking advantage of a competitors reputation, traffic and bigger budget to snatch yourself a few sales. Well, that point got a fair bit of interest, so we wanted to go into it in a bit more detail. So today, we’re going to look at what exactly competitor targeting is, why it could work for you and how to do it properly.


What Is Competitor Targeting?

The idea behind competitor targeting strategies on Google Ads is pretty simple. Create a list of competitors in your industry who offer similar products and services, and you can bid on their branded items. You might have noticed some brand doing it already – for example is you search for ‘DHL’ the parcel delivery company, the first search result you get is an advert for worldwide parcel delivery specialist UPS, along with other companies offering parcel delivery. This is because UPS are bidding on the term DHL in order to hook people they know are interested in those services, and potentially steal those sales. It’s a bit underhanded, but it is a very common tactic, and it can be a great way for small businesses to earn sales from under bigger competitors.


Why Use Competitor Targeting?

The main benefit of competitor targeting is brand awareness when competing against much bigger businesses. It gets your brand name in front of people who are brand-aware, and pulls their attention away. And it works. They aren’t paying unless they drive a click from it, and chances are, since it’s a brand-aware search, people are going to click on the competitor link the majority of the time. Which makes it a free brand awareness exercise, and that’s valuable in itself.

The other advantage it is tends to be less competitive, and so less expensive. The terms tend to be cheaper to big on due to the lower competition when bidding on brand names or branded products or services. Since everyone typically bids on their own brand names, the business can get a bunch of clicks and impressions for a fraction of what is being spent elsewhere.  Due to the uphill battle of getting conversions, not everyone is willing to invest in the higher CPA.


Make Sure You Follow The Rules

While it may be a great technique to use, it does have a few risks. Mainly, that if you do this technique and get it wrong, you could open yourself up to massive penalties, fines and even lawsuits. So while it might be tempting to launch right into it, make sure you learn the rules and what you can, and more importantly can’t do.

When you look at the rules. Google’s Trademark team suggest a few key things to avoid:

  • Using a trademarked brand name in your ad text: Trademarked names and brands are strictly off limits. For example, if you’re selling trainers, you can’t say ‘better than Nike’ in your ad. That’s an illegal use of their trademark, and it will get you reported faster than you can blink. If this happens, google can restrict your ads at best, or the brand could instate fines or legal proceedings.


  • Using a trademarked brand name in your display URL: In the display path URL, you can’t use a trademarked brand name. For example, your URL can’t say ‘’.



In fact, Google reserves the right to remove any use of trademarks in your ads if they get a complaint. Here is what they say about it:

“If a trademark owner submits a complaint to Google about the use of their trademark in AdWords ads, we will review it and may enforce certain restrictions on use of the trademark. The following policies apply to trademarks used in text ads on the Search Network… however, Google may remove specific ads on the Google Network in response to trademark owner complaints.”

So, what we want to stress here is that it’s important you get the right information and do your research before you jump into competitor targeting. If you do that, you can take advantage of the benefits of competitor targeting in Google Ads, without getting your business into hot water. At Ad-Extra, we’re experts in this technique and others, so we can guide you through the set up and make sure you stay on the right side of Google, and the law. If you would like more information, just get in touch with us today.