How competitive poaching in advertising can work for marketers

Competitive poaching, or when an organization steals the advertising keywords of its competitors to divert its consumers, is sneaky but can work well for marketers in a range of contexts, according to a May 13 Harvard Business Review article.

Researcher Siddharth Bhattacharya, PhD, of George Mason University ran an experiment with colleagues looking at which contexts competitive poaching worked well for advertisers. They set up advertisements that had different types of messages, and then got to work poaching user traffic from search engines by using the same keywords as either high-end or low-end brands. 

He found that when organizations poached the keywords and traffic of a high-quality brand, ads that stressed the superior quality of the service got more click throughs than the control. When poaching traffic from lower quality brands, ads that distinguished characteristics of the organization clearly were most effective. They also found that if both the poaching organization and the poached were in close geographical proximity, the poacher would get more clicks on the search engine, suggesting that consumers were more seriously weighing their options between the two.

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