Google: Top Search Ads Increase Brand Awareness by 6.6% [Study]

Traditionally, the value in search advertising has always been centered on increases in click-through rates and conversions. However, Google and Ipsos MediaCT partnered to study the impact of search ads on brand awareness. The results might surprise you.

How Was the Study Conducted?

Google and Ipsos MediaCT ran over 60 search experiments in 2013 in hopes of understanding how search ads affect brand awareness. As part of the studies, 800 U.S. consumers participated in the simulated search scenarios. Think with Google recently shared further information on how the simulations were conducted:

The consumers were prompted to search for a specific category keyword (for example, “hiking boots” or “small cars”) on their desktop or laptop. They were then shown either a control search engine results page (SERP) or Test SERP spotlighting one of the 12 categories: apparel and durables, auto, B2B, classified and local, consumer packaged goods (CPG), education, financial services, healthcare, media and entertainment, retail, tech and travel.

Consumers that were given the Test SERP would see the test brand’s search ad present at the top of their Google search results (as pictured below).

Control vs Test SERP

What Were the Results?

The study found that search ads do in fact have a positive impact on brand awareness. In fact, when the subjects were asked what was top of mind when asked about a specific category keyword, Google uncovered the following results:

  • 14.2 percent in the test group named the test brand.
  • 8.2 percent in the control group also named the same brand.

According to Google and Ipsos MediaCT’s calculations, that is an 80 percent lift in top-of-mind awareness.

Search Ads Lift Brand Awareness

Each of the verticals studies rated a little differently. Some of the results include:

  • Auto & B2B: 9 percent lift in top-of-mind awareness.
  • CPG: 8 percent lift in top-of-mind awareness.
  • Retail: 6 percent top-of-mind awareness.

Additionally, when participants were asked to name an additional four brands that were related to a specific category keyword there was an average lift in top-of-mind awareness of 9.2 percent. Those participating in the test group showed 26.7 percent unaided awareness while those in the control group represented 17.5 percent.

What Does This Information Mean for Marketers?

While you may not have considered search advertising to be an avenue for brand awareness in the past, it is clear that it does have a direct impact. Another item to consider is cost. The price of a search ad versus a more traditional method of advertising is much more cost-effective.

The study shares some tips for improving the effectiveness of your search advertising:

  • Category keywords enable you to connect with as many consumers as possible as they are in the purchasing process.
  • Use formats and images that place your ad in the top slot to help differentiate you from other results.
  • Remember that search advertising is now good for more than just driving conversions.

What do you think of the results from Google’s study on brand awareness? Let us know in the comments!

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