Jeffrey Lupo
Jan 14, 2023

Google Adwords Competitor Targeting: 12 Cost-Effective Tactics

One overlooked area of competitor targeting is how much trouble it can get you in, if not handled correctly.

Back in 2019, it was reported that Google removed over 2.3 billion Adwords accounts.

In this article, we'll not only cover a multitude of low-cost and effective tactics for Google Adwords competitor targeting but how to conduct them safely.

Here's what you'll learn by the end of this post:

  • What Google Adwords competitor targeting is
  • The rules for competitor targeting
  • How to protect your company against black-hat competitor targeting practices
  • 12 proven competitor targeting practices

What Is Google Adwords Competitor Targeting?

Google Adwords competitor targeting is placing bids on the branded search keywords of the main rivals in your industry. 

You can bid on their branded terms by listing the other companies in your industry that provide comparable goods and services.

However, it's more complicated than just starting a fresh campaign with their keywords.

To prevent possible legal repercussions or penalties from Google, you must be fully aware of what you're getting into.

If you're new to Google Adwords, here's our crash course on conducting effective lead-generation campaigns.

What Are the Rules of Competitor Targeting?

Competitor targeting mistakes can lead to severe fines and even legal action.

Google may penalize you for using a trademarked brand name (that isn't yours) in your advertisement.

For instance, you cannot advertise "Better Product Management Than Asana" if you are selling software as a service (SaaS).

Any unauthorized use of their trademarks will be quickly identified.

Google will then limit, eliminate, or even impose worse penalties on your ads.

In response to a complaint, Google maintains the right to delete any trademark usage on your advertising.

However, there are several exclusions to the rule.

For example, you are permitted to utilize a trademark if the owner has granted you permission to do so.

Trademark and Protect Your Brand

On the flip side of the trademark and branding coin, someone could use your company name in their ads if your brand isn't copyrighted.

Therefore, your brand must be trademarked if you want to protect it.

It's a relatively easy process that only needs your time, effort, and knowledge of your company.

After filing for a trademark, keep an eye on Google for brand mentions.

If you're specifically interested in branded B2B-targeting on Google search ads, go here

Competitor Targeting Risks

To create campaigns that adhere to the appropriate standards while producing conversions, it's essential to be aware of the rules and regulations.

In terms of bid amounts on trademarked terms, they tend to be ridiculously low.

Bidding wars can emerge seemingly out of nowhere.

However, as soon as you start to bid against rivals, you invite the competition. This jeopardizes the ideal equilibrium you've worked so hard to achieve on your own terms.

To avoid bidding wars and violating Google's rules, here are 13 effective strategies to target your rivals' keywords.

12 Google Ads Competitor Targeting Strategies

How can you reach a pertinent audience that has expressed interest in your rivals?

Use these tactics to create custom audiences using URLs, keywords, and more.

Before you get started, to better understand the cost of a Google Ads campaign, go here. 

1. Competitor Website Targeting

With the help of Google Ads, you can modify a target audience based on their interests and behaviors.

That means you can target your ads at internet users who search for particular websites.

You have the choice to target visitors from similar websites. However, the ads won't show to individuals while they visit the selected websites.

2. Custom Audiences Through Competitor Keywords

Google Ads offers a feature to create custom audiences based on keywords.

You can use your competitor's keywords to give you a starting point for creating competitive ads. This allows you to reach users already aligned with specific campaign goals.

Keep in mind that only campaigns running on Google properties will show your ads to users searching for those keywords and related phrases.

3. Custom Audiences Through Competitor URLs

You can now target users by building an audience off of the URLs of your competitors.

Starting in Google AdSense, choose "People who browse websites similar to."

Next, include as many competition websites as you like to target particular demographics.

4. Unique Value Propositions

Branded searches draw users who are looking for a certain experience.

Your value proposition identifies customer pain points and positions your business as the best remedy. A good value proposition clearly explains why a user would benefit from your goods and services.

By scanning reviews and testimonials of your competitors you can optimize your value proposition to make it stand out among your competitors.

Negative reviews, in particular, clue you into the pain points that your competitors are not solving for their user base.

5. Better Discounts

Pricing is one of the most crucial factors in customers' decision-making at the time of purchase.

Simply outpricing your rivals is a solid method to grab some clicks from their branded searches.

6. Strategic Ad Placement

You run your ads on your competitor's individual YouTube videos or their entire channel.

This strategy ensures that your ad reaches relevant prospects, leverages the reputation (good or bad) of your competitors, and potentially increase your product or service's market share.

7. URL-Based Retargeting

Retargeting is a method of reaching users who have already visited your website as a result of a competitor-targeting campaign.

The vast majority of paid advertising platforms provide URL-based audiences for retargeting.

Include UTM parameters in your ad URLs whether you're targeting through search or another channel.

This method of retargeting customers can be far less expensive than carrying on with expensive competition keyword bids.

8. YouTube

Another way to leverage YouTube is to have your ads show up in search results pages as in-feed video ads.

When customers search for a brand on YouTube, competitors can show up, taking the top spot.

However, you can get achieve even greater view rates, by focusing on ranking within Google's algorithm instead of YouTube's.

Keep in mind that you still pay for each and every view of an in-feed video. For that reason, it's recommended to create longer videos that demonstrate why you are the superior choice.

9. LinkedIn

Although LinkedIn advertising has a reputation for being costly, this isn't always the case.

There are a number of less expensive targeting choices available besides job title or company.

Look for users who are interested in you or your competitor's services using Linkedin membership groups.

This allows you to target people who are enthusiastic about contributing to product conversations.

Users devoted to a specific product can be more difficult to persuade. However, it also opens you up to grievances or unmet pain points to exploit.

10. Twitter

Tweets, clicks, and retweets help characterize your competitors and their audience.

Start by typing in competitor Twitter handles, then choose one at a time.

From there, you can target multiple competitor accounts to discover lookalike Twitter followers.

11. Reddit

One of the most popular websites in the world, Reddit also has a platform for advertising.

The majority of Reddit's fundamental targeting options are quite generic. However, there is one area you should focus on first.

Subreddits are sections of particular Reddit communities that are frequently used as ad targets. So, target communities for popular competitor brands.

12. Quora

On Quora, you can target ads in a variety of ways, but the most granular one is to target specific questions.

That means you can assign ads to appear only for certain questions.

Topics on Quora work to categorize questions. Whenever a user is searching questions on a particular topic, your ad could up on any query within that topic.

However, individual question targeting typically lacks volume, so targeting by topic and interest should be carried out first.


We've given you an overview of quite a few Google Adwords competitor targeting tactics. Each one requires the finesse and creativity of an experienced advertiser if you want to execute it effectively.

If you want to discuss how InterTeam conducts competitor targeting to bring in qualified leads, schedule a free call with us.

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