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Advertising against competitors’ company names

We’ve all come across the trick of agencies and third-party services approaching the managing director rather than the person responsible for buying their services, in the hope that their offer might pique the MD’s interest and be passed over with an instruction saying “we should do this”. Does it work? I’ve no idea, but I’ve heard of it happening recently with search advertising management agencies contacting MDs suggesting their companies should do search adverts against their competitors’ names. I guess it’s the sort of thing that might appeal at a superficial level, so it’s best to be prepared.

My TL;DR is that it’s not a good idea, as it can be expensive and have unintended consequences. If you want more detail, the advice I gave over a year ago still stands. Think about why people might be searching for a competitor’s name: it’s because they want to visit that company’s website. Your ad getting in the way will usually at best be overlooked and at worst be an irritant. Its ‘Quality Score’ will be as low as it gets, which could cost you ten times as much per click as it needs to and have a knock-on effect to other advertising too. Also, it might just kick off a war that could equally well ruin the search results page for your brand. So be careful.