Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
What is Conquest Advertising?
Conquest Advertising is a tactic used to target competitors' customers through SEM, display ads, and paid social using keywords and data segments that indicate strong interest in your competitors' brands and products.
Most people familiar with SEM have heard about “conquesting”, which is simply conquest advertising applied to SEM. It consists of using your direct competitors’ brand or product names as some of your own target keywords.
With conquesting, your PPC ads will sneak in front of your competitors’ organic or paid search results and will reach their customers as they are in-market, browsing for your competitors and their products.
Who would not be interested in doing this?! Not only are you advertising to in-market, prospective customers, but are also actively poaching from your competitors!
What people often ignore though, is that the same approach can also be used for your Display Advertising campaigns. Targeting your competitors’ in market customers through intent & conquest targeting data.
The idea of “Conquesting” really started with SEM and is a pretty popular PPC advertising tactic.
From experience though, performance is however usually not quite there…
These SEM Conquesting campaigns are very expensive - your CPC costs will be high given that your ad is not directly relevant to the keyword you are bidding on - and your campaigns’ click-through-rate and conversion rate tend to be low.
With this said, it is still an effective way to get your brand name and website in front of prospective clients that might never have seen them otherwise, especially if your SEO is lacking in performance…
However, there are better ways to reach the same objective but at a much better price and more effectively! What you need to do is keep the conquesting idea, but use different advertising channels.
Display advertising, Paid Social and Display Retargeting can be used for the same objective but at a fraction of the price and with a great Return On Advertising Spend.
Now that I got your attention, below are a few examples of how to do this.
Audience targeting: The primary way to actively target your competitors’ customers through Display Advertising is to layer “conquest targeting” data to your campaign - also sometimes called “Custom affinity” data. By doing so, you will not only reach high-intent customers but also target audiences that have shown an infinity towards some of your direct competitors. This “propensity” towards a specific brand is usually defined by the customers online searches and overall online behavior.
Just to give you an example. Let’s say you are advertising for a sportswear brand and want to prospect people who have a high propensity to be interested in the Adidas brand and their products, and to buy from them. What we would do here is layer into your prospecting campaign some “Custom affinity” data of people who regularly search for Adidas and their products, and regularly visit their site and buy from them.
Contextual Targeting: Another way to target your direct competitors’ customers through Display Advertising is to show your ads next to content talking about your direct competitors and their products. Contextual targeting is usually targeted at more generic or broad categories like “Electric Cars”, “Hybrid cars”, “Crossovers”, etc… But it can also be done by going after more specific keywords like “Prius”, or “Model S”, or even specific brands like “Tesla”, “Toyota” etc…Here the difference with the Conquest Advertising strategy that we mentioned earlier, using Audience Targeting, is that you are not going after users who have a high propensity to like and be interested in a specific brand or product, but you are displaying your display ad next to content that is talking about your competitors. Contextual targeting is often more efficient than audience targeting. Reaching customers as they engage with content that coincides with your product drives engagement with your ad! Advertising is about reaching the right people, yes, but at the right time! Contextual targeting just does that.
2nd Party Data: Powerful and more exclusive 2nd party data of clients actively in-market for products or services comparable to yours is another indirect way to target your competitors’ prospective customers. At Cybba, we have access to exclusive travel and entertainment data. This gives us access to performance-led intent audiences, currently browsing for services or products like yours.
To give you a better idea of what we are talking about here, let’s look at how we use Telecharge data. People go on Telecharge when they are in-market, looking for local services, i.e. what Broadway show to see when they are visiting New York City. By targeting online users that have just gone to the Telecharge site or app, you can push your New York City-based business to users that you know are or will be in the area. It is hard to find a better strategy than this in terms a performance campaign!
More on User Data: [Blog] Understanding 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Party Data
Paid Social should also be used as part of your Conquest advertising strategy. When using platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, you can target customers that work for a specific company or go to a specific school, and utilize intent and interest data to target audiences who have shown strong interest in your competitors and their services.
An example here could be a university advertising for its graduate degree and that wants to reach college students from competing universities who are looking to go to grad school.
Facebook and LinkedIn would be the best mediums to reach this younger audience. As college students and Millennials/ Gen Z spend a lot of time on Social Media and are very likely to go on sites like LinkedIn to network and find advice and information about graduate degrees to apply to.
We could do a Conquest advertising campaign on these social networks by targeting audiences based on their major and the year they have completed their undergrad degree, but more importantly by targeting college students that go or have gone to your main rival universities.
More on Paid Social: [Blog] What's the Best Platform for Social Media Advertising?
Last but not least, your Conquests Advertising campaign should also include some Display Retargeting to make sure your brand and products stay top of mind as your high-value & high-intent customers are doing some comparison shopping looking at your competitors. Display retargeting is by definition a type of direct response campaign, which means that it is complementary to any Conquest Advertising campaigns you would be doing.
More on Display Retargeting: [Blog] Getting Started with Retargeting Ads
With all this said, Conquest Advertising might be something you already do without even really realizing. Either way, you should always keep all the recommendations above in mind when you implement your Performance Campaigns, whether you manage them yourself or through an advertising agency.
We at Cybba can help you implement all of these tactics and smart tricks we have learned over the years working with hundreds of advertisers, helping them increase their Brand Awareness or direct revenue through Performance and Conquesting campaigns.
To know more about what we can do for you don’t hesitate to reach out to our Account Executive team. They will be more than happy to talk with you and about how to implement such campaigns and help you win Market Shares over your direct competitors!