Competitor Campaigns – Yay or Nay?

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

To be or not to be, that is the question. The answer is the same answer that every PPC Specialist gives to most questions they’re asked: It Depends.

Why does it depend? Because there’s so many variables and factors to consider that it’s almost impossible to determine if you’ll reap the rewards from running competitor campaigns in your paid ads accounts.

Due to trademark policies in Google Ads, advertisers can’t use their competitors’ brand name in ads, which means that ad quality score is usually marked as poor because the relevance between ad copy, keyword and the landing page isn’t very strong. This can lead to higher CPC’s, and make achieving targets more difficult as a result.

A number of advertisers have really had to think outside the box to make their competitor campaigns work, for instance with ad copy that’s a little out there and likely to therefore have a good Click Through Rate. Some advertisers directly compare their service or product to competitors on their landing pages – this is a great way to get around the fact you can’t use brand names in ad copy. 

The ad copy is important to get users to click through in the first place, but it’s then the responsibility of the landing page to turn that user to lead / customer.

An example of this can be seen by Scoro, a task management tool that competes with When searching for ‘’, Scoro’s ad rank’s 2nd – they have an enticing free trial offer, and elude to why their tool is preferred:

The landing page then says Scoro is a alternative – a clever way of comparing products with a competitor that has high brand visibility, with clear calls to action:

The proof is in the pudding however, and it’s results that determine if investing in competitor activity is worthwhile long term.

For most advertisers, competitor campaigns are seen as a ‘nice to have’ and generally used when they’ve capitalised on their most valuable brand and generic keywords. However, bidding on competitors can yield surprising results and be very profitable if you have an enticing offer or better comparable service or product that’s easy to demonstrate in ad copy. 

We run competitor campaigns for a number of clients. For one of our lead gen clients whose primary goal is to generate form completions online, their competitor campaign is their third best performer behind generic search terms for their core services.

  • The account average CPA (excl brand) is £18 and competitor campaigns average £15.

  • The account average CVR (excl brand) is 12.50% and the competitor campaign comes in at 20%.

Due to strong CVR and CPA, the campaign is profitable and scalable. 

Before implementing a competitor campaign, it’s important to conduct keyword research to understand estimated CPC’s and search volume, to really understand the investment that may be required to test. 

We’d also advise reviewing your competitors ads, landing pages, and product / service features. You really want to understand how you can ensure you’re offering a better product / service, and giving users the best experience from ad to landing page. 

We wrote a post about conducting a competitor ad analysis here, which offers helpful tips and tricks to help you with this. 

Definitely don’t shy away from trialling competitor campaigns, set aside a budget and test test test. You can test one competitor to begin with, and scale or try targeting them all and refine, it really does depend (there’s that word again) on your budget and resource. Investing time into creating a dedicated landing page that clearly identifies why a user should choose you vs. the brand they’d searched for initially could lead to stronger CVR vs. sending traffic to standard website pages. 

You have just seconds to make a good first impression, so pique interest with compelling copy. Have fun with ad copy and be creative – it’s your chance to lead users away from competitors and consider your offering.