How to Make Competitive Conquesting Part of Your Paid Search Strategy

For clients looking to build brand awareness and win immediate leads or sales at an efficient budget, we often recommend a paid search conquesting strategy. Conquesting allows your business to appear alongside Google searches for the top competitors or leaders in your industry.

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You build your brand off the work your competitors put into building their own brand, while also realizing immediate leads or sales. When it comes to digital marketing strategies, agencies will traditionally recommend using paid social, YouTube, or display tactics to boost brand awareness at scale. At the same time, they’ll suggest promoting non-brand paid search to capture immediate leads or sales. Both strategies are valuable for building your business, however, building brand awareness takes time and non-brand paid search gets expensive quickly. Conquesting is a way to jump to the front of the line and realize quick results.

What is Competitive Conquesting?

At a high level, a paid search conquesting campaign utilizes paid search ads to appear in a competitor’s brand search result. You pick and choose which competitors you’d like your business to appear alongside and how much you’re willing to spend per click (also referred to as a “keyword bid”) on each competitor. How much you’re willing to bid dictates the position your ad will have in the search result. Bid too high and you may garner some unwanted attention. But bid too low, and you may not even appear in the search result.

Example of Competitor Conquesting

Here’s an example of how conquesting works: You’re the owner of a business that has developed a new cloud-based software solution. You need to generate awareness for your cheaper, easier-to-use service but also need new leads on a daily basis.

You begin running ads that appear whenever a user searches for your competitors. Your ad explains why your software is better than theirs and highlights key points of differentiation. Perhaps you even promote a special offer for new customers. These ads start getting clicks and generate leads from interested, prospective customers who would like to learn more about your improved solution. Suddenly, you’ve got business as a result of conquesting.


The Risks of Competitive Conquesting in Paid Search

If managed poorly, a conquesting campaign can easily create confusion for users and lead to costly bidding wars with your competition.

The goal of a conquesting strategy is not to overtake a competitor for their own brand search. The goal is for your business to appear in the search results and provide an alternative for users who are open to other choices. In many cases, this means appearing in the 2nd or 3rd ad position for a competitor’s brand search result, not the 1st ad position. Let your competitor have that 1st ad position.

The biggest risk with conquesting is burning through your budget on ad clicks from users who mistook you for your competitor. That’s what happens when you appear in the 1st ad position for a competitor’s search. This can also lead to confusion for the user, and even worse, a bad association with your brand. Instead, bid to reach the 2nd or 3rd ad position and become an attractive option to a potential customer exploring brand keywords within your industry.

What About My Competitor’s Ads?

Think your competitors aren’t running their own conquesting strategy? Think again. Google actively encourages conquesting campaigns, and it’s proven to drive high-intent users to your website. There is no way to prevent competitors from bidding on your own branded terms unless they’re in violation of an advertising policy, such as misleading claims or unauthorized use of your trademark in their ads.

The right response is to use conquesting as a means to fight back against your competition, while communicating why you offer a superior product/service.


The best approach to conquesting is to start with low bids and see where you appear in the Google search result. Being patient pays off, as you need time to cultivate a sample size of results to analyze. You don’t want to disrupt your competitor’s brand, but you do want to create a presence. Analyze which competitor searches give you a higher click through rate and conversion rate and begin to slowly increase your bids for those searches until you obtain the optimal ad position.

Click through rate and conversion rate are critical success metrics to measure your conquesting strategy. Click throughs will tell you how appealing your ad is over your competition, while conversion rate evaluates how willing the customer is to buy your product/service over the brand they originally searched for.


Conquesting is not for the inexperienced. It’s a balancing act that requires constant attention from an expert who knows what they are doing. A competitive paid search professional will:

  • Research your competition
  • Bid on ads that maximize your advertising dollar
  • Constantly monitor the results of your campaign
  • Tweak your ad bids to best position your business
  • Increase your brand awareness
  • Design a holistic digital marketing campaign that uses conquesting as part of its strategy

A marketer with conquesting experience can stretch the capability of your marketing dollar significantly. We’ve seen conversion rates of 30-40% for conquesting and at a third of the cost for typical non-brand campaigns.


Ready to learn more? Gemini’s paid media experts will be your staunch ally on the Google battleground to make your competitor’s customers, your customers. Contact us today and let’s see if a conquesting strategy is a good fit for your business. It may just strike the right balance between building brand visibility and generating immediate leads/sales for your business.