How the Loss of the Brand Name Impacted Nokia Searches

Ian O'Rourke Posted by Ian O'Rourke

After purchasing Nokia’s mobile phone division, Microsoft dropped the Nokia brand altogether in November. How will this move affect the PPC market for mobile devices?

Having long sought its own brand of phones, Microsoft purchased Nokia’s phone division in April and recently released it under a new brand and product name, the Microsoft Lumina 535. What does this development mean for industry competitors, all of whom started to bid on Nokia-related terms to try and get a slice of the pie?

Market Traffic

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”” title=”Nokia Terms Trend” src=””][/lightbox]

Looking at the graph above, the competition’s relative traffic for generic Nokia-based keywords (excluding brand targets) might surprise you. remained pretty dormant throughout October and the beginning of November, before spiking to 100% SOV on the 12th.

Two days later, its share had returned to 0%, leaving many scratching their heads.

Perhaps it was simply a case of collective nostalgia: people have fond memories of Nokia phones, and maybe they wanted to check out the website one last time before before that last Nokia phone emerges from its digital doors.

Or maybe they just wanted to have a look at what remained of the brand in the wake of the recent takeover. As we should all remember, emotions play a big part in what customers do and where they visit online.

It’s fair to say, however, that the big winner here is Carphone Warehouse; by the middle of November, the company owned literally all of the traffic (amongst the top competitors). This takeover was definitely aided by Phones 4U’s September demise, as the two companies employed very similar business models.

Minimal Keyword Overlap

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”×611.png” title=”Nokia Terms Head to Head” src=”×611.png”][/lightbox]

Although the above diagram attempts to show the overlap between the most popular keywords the largest mobile brands bid on, very little overlap exists at all, with Samsung separating itself from the pack as the principal bidder.

Strange Bids from Samsung

Nokia was very keen to bid on keywords that included or closely related to its brand, and the vast majority of such keywords included “nokia.” Samsung, however, concentrated on more general keywords, such as “best mobile,” “tablet review,” and, “what is the best smartphone on the market?”

Interestingly, the keywords on which Samsung and Nokia both bid were predominantly Nokia-related: “best mobile phone cameras,” “nokia website,” and “nokia lumia 920 handset.”

With such a large portfolio of Nokia-related keywords, you might expect Samsung to soar in the wake of the Nokia phone brand’s demise. However, you’d then be in for another surprise.

Then and Now

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”” title=”Nokia Terms Share” src=””][/lightbox]

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”” title=”Nokia Terms over 30 Days” src=””][/lightbox]

The first graph shows the proportion of traffic for Nokia-related keywords owned by each of the biggest competitors in December of last year – just before the takeover. The second graph uses the same measure, but for the thirty days leading up to November 17 of this year.

From the first SOV graph, you can see that Samsung did manage to figure into the equation, though it only took 2.37%. Motorola’s share of 0.33% was simply too small for the chart to display.

It’s important to note that Motorola only bid on six keywords, including “cheapest payg smartphone,” “mobile phones payg,” and “cell phones.” Because these keywords are very general, they’re likely to involve top competition from outside this industry subset.

(We’d also like to note that these keywords were sourced from Adthena’s competitive analysis tools, which allow you to see which brands are bidding on which keywords and when.)

That’s a big difference: Nokia’s SOV plummeted from 37.91% in December to 16.31% 11 months later. As you might expect, Carphone Warehouse picked up most of the slack, taking home a 73.69% SOV, up from just over a third in the previous rankings.

So, pinching Nokia’s keywords worked for Samsung when Nokia was still around, but hasn’t work since the brand got shut down. This seems rather backwards, right?

Brand-attachment is probably responsible for the apparent inconsistency: people who search for ‘nokia’ are less likely to click on a totally different smartphone brand.

As such, PPC ads that aren’t associated with a single brand (like Carphone Warehouse) are attractive because customers can click away without betraying their respective brand loyalties.

The Rise of Carphone Warehouse

With Nokia and Phones 4U (which grabbed an 18.01% SOV in December 2013) out of the picture, Carphone Warehouse no longer has to worry about its primary brand and non-brand competitors.

As a result, it has grown into something of a PPC monster, stomping out the smaller competitors whose positions were already pretty tenuous when the going was easier.

So what is there to learn? We’d argue that brands and branding define the mobile industry – and that people won’t just throw out their loyalty after a takeover. As such, multi-brand shops like Carphone Warehouse will probably continue to dominate the clicks for some time.

There may be an opportunity at some point, however, for the branded competitors like Motorola and Samsung to regain some ground, although partaking in brand infringement should not be the top strategy. Hopefully, people will still be searching “nokia” then.

About the author

Ian O'Rourke
Ian O'Rourke
Ian is the CEO and Founder of Adthena. He has been involved in technology businesses and start-ups for over 22 years and has built businesses across the globe including in Silicon Valley, London, Australia and Taiwan. Ian has grown Adthena since 2012 to its current position as the premier global provider of competitive intelligence. Ian likes to foster a culture of great products, getting things done, responsibility, freedom and continuous improvement.