7 tips to target competitor web traffic with PPC ads

Did you know that 61% of customers switched brands at least once in the last year? The majority didn’t even dislike the brand they left. In fact, 62% switched just because a competitor succeeded in attracting them, according to the Data & Marketing Association.  People don’t need a bad experience with a brand to switch loyalties. All

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Did you know that 61% of customers switched brands at least once in the last year?

The majority didn’t even dislike the brand they left.

In fact, 62% switched just because a competitor succeeded in attracting them, according to the Data & Marketing Association

People don’t need a bad experience with a brand to switch loyalties. All you have to do is show them you’re the better choice.

Just imagine how much more business you could win if potential customers found you when they were looking for a competitor. And you were able to entice them away.

So, how do you let your competitors’ customers know you offer a winning alternative? 

The answer is PPC ads.

Bidding on competitor keywords on Google Ads is one of the most well-known competitive advertising strategies.

When you target competitor ads, your ads will appear as well. Raise awareness of your brand for free.

Why bid on competitor terms?

Because it’s easy. All you do is:

  • Select competitor terms to bid on
  • Decide how much you want to pay
  • Set up ads for that group

Your ad will then appear when people search for your competitor. 

You’ll only pay if someone does click on your ad.

They may not click through to you right away.

However, it may make them reconsider their decision to go with the original brand. Now they know your brand is out there.

Brand keywords are usually cheap, so it’s a simple and affordable tactic. 

Any clicks you generate are pretty much guaranteed to be qualified customers. 

If you do divert your competitor’s traffic, this tells Google your ads are more relevant. This improves your quality score and reduces your ad costs over time.

This strategy can really pay off if you do it right. Here’s some top tips for targeting competitor traffic using PPC ads.

How to target competitor web traffic with PPC ads

1. Do the research

Know thy competitor. Create a list of competitors and do keyword research on their search terms. Check out their copy for popular product terms or slogans.

The most important choice you’ll make in this process is at the beginning: which keywords you want to target. This is why research is so important, so you can make an informed decision before proceeding.

You should also take a look at Auction Insights. Check whether any competitors are targeting your keywords. If they are, look at their campaigns to work out how to adjust your own.

2. Don’t directly use names

You don’t even have to mention your competitor’s name at all to successfully target them with a PPC ad.

Be more subtle and focus on the most compelling things that differentiate your business from theirs.

If you do use brand names, you run the risk of being accused of misleading customers or infringing on a trademark.

3. Address their pain points

Your research should reveal frequent problems customers have with your competitor – or show how you can solve problems better than your competitor. Once you identify weaknesses, address them in your PPC ad.

Advertise something that they fall short on but you can offer to the customer. How can you help them in a way the other brand can’t?

If you aren’t sure what your competitor’s specific weaknesses are, do some more research on customer reviews. People are more likely to post about a brand online to complain, so there should be a goldmine of information waiting for you.

4. Offer enticing discounts

Pricing is a major factor driving consumer decisions. Data collation by Stax Inc found that price is the top consideration for 18% of people, and in the top three for 47%.

An easy enticement is to beat your competitor’s price. You can achieve this with introductory offers rather than lowering all of your prices.

You could offer people the best value for money through selective pricing (just be careful not to get into a race to the bottom on price).

5. Implement ad extensions

There are loads of ad extensions for Google Ads that make value propositions easy. They add more detail to your ad without compromising the main copy.

Use ad extensions to show pricing options, audience groups, or customer ratings. Social proof such as customer reviews can be very influential. 

Additions like these make your ad look more dynamic and increase your credibility. This makes you a much more attractive alternative.

6. Use a unique message

The quality and originality of your ad message are the most influential aspects. You need something eye-catching to tempt people away from your competitor.

Decide on a unique selling point to go with in the ad – you can pair this with your customers’ pain points.

Set yourself apart by providing answers to problems your competitor isn’t solving. Convince people that only you can provide this specific value.

7. Keep an eye on costs

Stealing the top spot of the search results isn’t the aim. Only bid amounts that you are fine with paying. 

Don’t try to bid higher in an attempt to force your competitor to have to pay more. It’s not profitable for you and will only get you tangled up in a bidding war.  

Cost-per-click inflation will cause trouble for you in the long run. Set your bids carefully and keep checking back.

What to watch for when targeting competitor ads

Competitor targeting is a perfectly acceptable practice – as long as you follow the rules.

Nobody wants to deal with Google’s penalties.

The most important thing to remember is avoid using trademarked brand names in ad text or display URLs. You can only use these if you are an authorised advertiser, reseller, or information site. 

Another thing to consider is retaliation from competitors. They might start bidding on your brand too, and inflate the cost per click in a spiralling bidding war.

This shouldn’t happen if you avoid creating hostile PPC ads. You don’t want to get a bad reputation in your industry. As long as you aren’t aggressively trying to outbid and outrank competitors, you’ll be fine. 

There is also the risk of hurting your own quality score. If the ads don’t get many clicks, or if people leave the page right away, you’ll end up with a low clickthrough rate and a high bounce rate.

These are just some of the things to be aware of before you take the plunge into targeting competitor web traffic with PPC ads. 

You won’t know how well it’ll work for you until you try, so it’s worth giving it a go.

Can I stop competitors bidding on my brand?

Of course, you might start to worry that competitors will target you.

You should aim to be as considerate as possible when targeting competitor traffic. But that doesn’t mean that competitors will be as considerate.

To protect yourself from competitors capitalising on your brand, make sure to get the name trademarked. This will stop others stealing your traffic using your own brand name.

You can’t really stop anyone from targeting your traffic, just as they can’t stop you targeting theirs. All’s fair in love and war, after all.

When it comes down to it, targeting competitor ads is only courting their customers. There’s little danger of losing them unless your competitor genuinely has a better offering.

Ultimately, the only way to stop others from poaching customers is to provide the best value. 

Work on having the best content, products, and customer service. Your excellent reputation will precede you – just like your PPC ads.

Ready to start making more money with your PPC ads?


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