Incipia blog

Why Search Ads Brand Defense is a Must

Gabe Kwakyi | September 27, 2023

Having had experience working with many hundreds of brands to manage PPC campaigns across Bing Ads, Google Adwords, and Apple Search Ads, one of the regular questions clients pose to us is whether or not running branded PPC ads is a good idea.

While in the land of blue links (even many blue links with the advent of sitelinks and enhanced sitelinks), the discussion sometimes ended up at branded PPC being recommended, but not absolutely necessary. In fact, many brands like Chanel implemented their own studies into the total site visits from their brand term when running branded PPC vs not, and other brands such as eBay made headlines by shutting down their PPC spend and reporting that they did better without PPC ads. Yet the vast majority of brands still chose to maintain a branded PPC presence.

ppc brand defense

The same discussions have arisen in the world of Search Ads PPC. So is there anything different this time around?

One of the main differences in web vs app store search in general is that app results take up a much larger percentage of the user's screen in phones than in. According to our research, a branded result is only 25% larger than the competitive result in iOS 11, vs 78% larger in iOS 10.

Furthermore, the results are far more visual and engaging than the blue links of web-land, especially with the release of iOS 11 auto-play preview videos.

Single-app developers are especially at a disadvantage given these two points, because they have no 2nd branded result to occupy position #2 and keep the barbarians outside of view, so to speak.

apple search ads

For bands with multiple apps in their porftolio, brand defense in the organic sense is easier.

microsoft app store

Yet, the promise of PPC is that you can "cut the line and go straight to the front," so having a portfolio of apps and even the new developer page results are not an effective moat against search ads.

google vs microsoft branded search ads

So are brand defense Search Ads are a must? The answer is an emphatic YES!

Brands MUST run defensive branded search ads keywords, due to 5 main reasons:

Reason #1: Over Half of App Store Searches are Branded

This means that apps have no choice but to run ads on branded results if they want to earn significant ad impression volume. Branded searches have also always been top priority targets for advertisers via conquest strategies as well, because the act of searching for a brand is itself one of the best qualification factors for a user.

apple search ads

Reason #2: Broad and Search Match Are Greedy

Even if an advertiser isn't explicitly bidding on brand terms using an exact or broad match, Apple's broad and search match will enter that advertiser into branded keyword auctions in search of traffic. Especially for advertisers with higher CPA goals or higher budgets, much of their traffic can and will come from branded results, due to reason #1.

apple search ads

Reason #3: Competitive Search Ads Results are Massive

With iOS 11, search ads not only appear first but are also huge and push the organic result down quite a ways. It's not a good idea to leave it up to chance that your user will decide to tap your result and won't be enticed to tap the search ad result. And more people will tap the first result than you would imagine, even for branded searches. You worked hard to build your brand awareness and many users are not brand-loyal these days, so why allow your brand goodwill to be usurped by a competitor's Search Ad? A well-designed competitive

You worked hard to build your brand awareness and many users are not brand-loyal these days, so why allow your brand goodwill to be usurped by a competitor's Search Ad? A well-designed competitive search ad can suck away more than a few downloads and drain your highest value users away.

apple search ads

Reason #4: Competitive Search Ads Videos Auto-Play First

Did you know about this one? Watch out, because it's possibly the most disruptive reasons arriving on the back of iOS 11. While the video-laden ad format doesn't always show up as a search ad and the search ads format cannot be controlled by the advertiser, video search ads occasionally do appear, and when they do they are extremely dangerous for a brand.

search ads video auto play

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Incipia is a mobile app development and marketing agency that builds and markets apps for companies, with a specialty in high-quality, stable app development and keyword-based marketing strategy, such as App Store Optimization and Apple Search Ads. For post topics, feedback or business inquiries please contact us, or send an inquiry to