The Dos and Don’ts of Competitor Targeting

Competitor targeting an easy and direct way to ensure your ad appears when users are looking up the competition.

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What is Competitor Targeting?

Google Ads allows you to bid on branded search terms for the top competitors in your space. Your biggest competitors are most likely already bidding on your branded keywords.

Using keywords to target other brand names, products, or services is one of the easiest ways to go after competitors in Google Ads.

It’s an easy and direct way to ensure your ad appears when users are looking up the competition. Most likely users will still click on the brand they are searching for, but this is an effective way to show there are other – and possibly better – options for their needs without spending (unless they click on the ad). Showing your ad next to similar products or services is an effective way to build brand awareness within the competitor space!

How to do it:

Brand awareness campaign with short and specific keyword lists based on brand

Bidding on competitors’ brand terms can provide a great angle to your online advertising performance. When running a competitor campaign, your keyword lists should be very tight knit and only focus on search variations of the brand names you want to target.

Keywords and negative keywords will be your best friends in a competitor campaign. To ensure you are only showing up for users searching for your competitors, split your campaign into ad groups by brand, then update them according to your search term reports.


Relying on keyword bidding alone can get expensive if your competitors catch on and start bidding on your terms as well. You should be running a brand campaign alongside your competitor campaigns to ensure that you are bidding for your own keywords. Staying in front of your competitors is key; there are other clever ways to make sure your ads are holding their own.

Target users scrolling through certain websites

Keyword or search term targeting is not the only option to get ahead of your competitors. You can also click into your Custom Audiences to create a new audience based on specific URLs.


First, you will need to create a new custom audience – choose the “people with any of these interests or purchase intentions” option. Below that, you will then see “Expand audience by also including:” then you can click down to, “People who browse types of websites.” From there you will be able to enter as many competitor URLS that you want.

What you shouldn’t do:

There are some things to steer clear of when doing competitor targeting. It can be tempting to use your competitor’s brand name in your ad copy in order to get your ad quality up, but Google cracks down on trademarked brand names.

  • Never use trademarked brand names in your ad copy.
  • Never use trademarked brand names in your display URL

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