Leveraging Competitors’ Brand Awareness With Paid Search Conquest Campaigns

Paid Search
July 1, 2020
Sporting Goods & Outdoor

Key Takeaways

Focus Allocation — Organic & Paid Search: Competitors in the men’s activewear vertical such as Rhone are actively attempting to take share of search away from incumbent activewear brands competitors such as lululemon, and generating strong results in doing so. 

Paid Search Tactics — Running Conquest Campaigns: Targeting competitors’ an incumbent competitors’ branded keywords can be a powerful method to piggyback off their existing brand awareness and intercept audience members while they are searching for products.

Paid Search Tactics — Countering Conquest Campaigns: Rhone is running an extremely focused and aggressive Paid Search program to reach people searching for lululemon products, especially in the men’s category. Specific tactics include targeting dozens of branded lulu keywords, directly calling out the lulu brand in ad copy, and even going so far as making puns. In these ads Rhone has been careful not use the name “lululemon,” but rather semantically related words such as “lulu” or “lemon.” For example, “Don’t buy a lemon,” or “See why we are better than Lulu.”  Here are a few things to keep in mind to help minimize any traffic reduction from these efforts:

  • Trademark Infringement:  Review the ads to see if there are any trademarked brand names or slogans being used in the ad copy. If so, report it to Google to have them removed. Google does not “investigate or restrict trademarks as keywords” but does not allow trademarks to be used in text ads. 
  • Increase Branded Ad Spend: If Rhone is consistently out bidding for the number one spot it may be beneficial to increase spending on high-traffic keywords. While this can spur a bidding war it may also deter further bidding as the costs for the keywords rise.

Leverage Brand Equity: Despite Rhone’s aggressive tactics and strong results, lulu holds a considerable upperhand in terms of brand equity. There’s an opportunity to outperform competitors by employing truly unique and impactful copywriting that speaks to brand & audience values in men’s activewear ads to increase CTR, quality score, and retain real estate on the SERP.

Rhone is becoming a formidable competitor in the men’s activewear category, having generated strong YoY growth in desktop traffic from almost all digital channels, with particularly significant gains from the Organic Search & Paid Search channels.

Rhone is running an extremely focused and aggressive Paid Search program to reach people searching for lululemon products, especially in the men’s category. Specific tactics include targeting dozens of branded lulu keywords, directly calling out the lulu brand in ad copy, and even going so far as making puns.

Rhone’s Paid keywords are heavily focused on the lululemon brand. Additionally, Rhone is targeting a wide range of both branded & non-branded product-based keywords.

Focusing on organic keywords, “Rhone + product” key phrases drive the most organic search traffic. That said, Rhone is generating thousands of organic search visits each month from more nuanced non-branded keywords such as “bipoc businesses” & “kettlebell kitchen.” 

Organic key phrases that include “shorts,” “clothing,” “lululemon,” “shirts,” and “men’s” have all seen significant growth since January 2020.


The keyword “men’s” saw a strong +145% YoY increase in traffic of in the latter months of 2020. 


Despite desktop traffic growth, Rhone’s overall web traffic decreased by -26% YoY in 2020. The majority of the decrease occurred during the period of March to June of this year.

The main cause of Rhone’s overall traffic decline is from mobile, which has decreased by -69% YoY, despite desktop traffic increasing by +39% YoY


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