Paid Search and Brand Awareness

  • Categories:

    Paid Media, Search

  • Date:

    September 10, 2014

Paid Search and Brand Awareness

Paid Media, Search

Paid search campaigns drive results. They’re the workhorse in a marketer’s arsenal. They can be turned on or off at a moment’s notice and are measurable almost instantly. But can they increase brand awareness?

Recently, Google released the results of a study measuring the impact of paid search. The results suggest that paid search can also be used as a brand awareness tool. Google found that on average, brand ads in the study created an 80 percent lift in top-of-mind awareness and more than 50 percent in unaided brand awareness.  

While the study examined only the top-of-page ad unit – a prime piece of real estate on a search page – those numbers are still significant. Keep in mind that unlike in a traditional ad environment, the searcher is actively seeking information on the category, brand or product and is already open to receiving the brand message.

Before you retool your strategy and bid on the top-of-page ad unit, determine whether brand awareness should even be part of your search strategy.

Brand awareness is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services.” That’s a lot to ask of a paid search ad containing no images and 95 characters of text.

If ad copy needs to do more than achieve a click-through, that changes things. Consider:

  • Do you have the budget to study and track brand awareness?
  • Do you have the budget to measure results from various ad positions and with various copy variables?
  • Are you worried about losing market share, or are you trying to gain it?

Most advertisers do not have the budget for this kind of tracking. However, you should still keep it in mind when building, bidding on and optimizing your paid search campaigns. Some things to ponder:

  • Can you afford that top-of-page ad position? Paid search ad costs continue to climb.  Maybe you don’t need the number one ad position. Bidding on the second or third ad position (still above organic listings), including PLAs (product listing ads), and optimizing your images for search can also improve your brand awareness.
  • Are you bidding on your own brand and product keywords or relying on organic search to carry you? This is where a competitor might get an edge.
  • Should that amazing click-through rate (CTR) be your top priority, or can you lower your CTR objectives to allow for more branding impressions?
  • Do you have trouble ranking your best website pages organically for certain key search terms? Supporting organic search is a good supporting strategy and could give brand awareness a boost.
  • Ad copy for the sake of branding? What does branding ad copy do to your quality score and ad rates? If you’re a category leader, you may not need the call-to-action to achieve that all-important click.

Happy optimizing!

Have you retooled your paid search strategy to boost brand awareness? What lessons have you learned? Let us know in the comments.