Paying Google for clicks on your own brand name is always a painful process when you're already sitting at the top of the free "organic" search results.
The received wisdom within the PPC industry is that you need to do this. They sweeten the pill by pointing out that the bid price is low. But it's always reassuring to see some hard evidence.
A recent post on FutureNow's "Grokdotcom" blog, titled "Would You Buy the Cow?" provides some useful information.
The research they cite is from Microsoft (who also have a keen interest in selling advertising clicks, of course). The test shows how a company who ranked at the top of the organic search gained a 16% benefit in brand association over rivals when they also paid for adverts on the search results.
So far so good. But when you look at it closely that test refers to people searching for an unbranded term like "fuel efficient cars" and the benefit was in terms of "brand association", not actual clicks, let alone conversion. The benefit they're claiming here is that nebulous one, "branding".
Read on in the comments on the post however, and you will notice that other people are chipping in with results of their own tests. Turn off the "brand" adverts and the free organic clicks do not go up to compensate. Those paid "brand" adverts do bring visitors you would have missed otherwise.
You're probably not throwing your money away. The reason for the 'probably' there? Each brand and each site is different.
The best thing to do, as always, is to run your own test!