Pet food brands conquer competitors in search engines

Gartner analysts observed that 38 percent of the 58 pet food brands in their index attempted to bid against competitors’ branded terms.

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(Dashabelozerova | BigStock.com)
(Dashabelozerova | BigStock.com)

Dog and cat food brands increased their usage of a search engine technique that makes links to their products appear when individuals search for terms related to a competitors’ brand. The technique, known as conquesting, became more prevalent between April 2017 and June 2018, wrote Gartner L2 analysts in the report “Digital IQ Index: Pet Care U.S. 2018.” 

For example, a Google search for branded terms associated with Petcurean dog food may also return results for Blue Buffalo products. By bidding against competitors’ branded terms, pet food companies use conquesting to encourage customers to switch brands.

Usage of conquesting by pet food companies

In last years’ Gartner report, only three pet food companies made use of conquesting: Blue Buffalo, Wellness and Friskies. This year, analysts observed that 38 percent of the 58 pet food brands in their index attempted to bid against competitors’ branded terms.

While Blue Buffalo now has company in the conquesting arena, they still lead the pack. Blue Buffalo contended for the branded terms of 61 percent of their competitors studied by Gartner.

Despite the increased attempts at conquest, many pet food brands failed to optimize their strategy for sniping pet food buyers from competitors. Gartner’s analysts pointed to IAMS, which bid on branded terms for 21 percent of competitors observed by the report. However, the hyperlink that appeared for IAMS took potential consumers to a generic product category page. A superior strategy is to link to a more dynamic online experience. For example, Blue Buffalo links to a product comparison tool. The tool encourages customers to look at the qualities of Blue Buffalo’s products side-by-side with competitors using such metrics as “features real meat as first ingredient.”

Ideally, a search engine conquesting strategy involves online content experiences that clearly articulate the value proposition of one dog or cat food, wrote Gartner analysts. The content should support product awareness, consideration and encourage conversion.

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