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Determining Best Practices for “Competitive Poaching”

“Competitive poaching” is the strategy of bidding on a competitor’s keywords on search engines. One might expect that poachers should always use ad copies that communicate the high quality of their product to win over consumers from competitors. Interestingly, Sunil Wattal, Siddharth Bhattacharya (PhD ’21), and their colleague find that the best marketing strategy depends on the quality of the competitor brand. 

When poaching high-quality brands, the results showed that ad copies emphasizing the product’s high quality were most successful. However, when poaching low-quality brands, the most successful ad copies were those that highlight other attributes, such as flexibility and low-cost. Wattal et al. also observed a “halo effect,” where the presence of a competitor’s advertisement actually helped firms looking to poach from high-quality brands. 

Digital marketers should consider the quality of their competitor’s brand to design the optimal ad copy when engaging in competitive poaching.