Forget Clicks, iProspect Study Shows Ad Impressions Drive Purchases & Boost Brands

By now you should have heard of the ‘last click’ attribution methodology and how it is a wrong headed analysis that risks biting the hand that feeds it. But have you heard of the ‘no-click’ attribution analysis? Neither have I, but iProspects latest investigation suggests that whatever market sector we are in, it might be time for marketers to start thinking about it.

Commissioning comScore to conduct a survey, iProspect set about uncovering the true effect of all digital media channels, and the effect of branding on customers’ purchase paths. The research spanned organic search impressions, paid search impressions, online display ad impressions, and all combinations thereof, across 15 brands within five vertical industries: retail, insurance, banking/financial services, software, and hotels.

Curiously, the study reveals that simply exposure to ad impressions boosts brand recognition and drives purchase behavior, even when users don’t click on them. Furthermore, seeing an ad online nearly doubles internet users’ likelihood to visit a website in the future. The study measured four key metrics: brand favorability, likelihood to make a purchase, likelihood to visit a website, and brand trust.

Key findings are:

    • Paid search is the digital media type that has the greatest impact on brand favorability, both in isolation (28%) and in combination with organic search (40%).


  • The combination of organic and paid search impressions enhances brand trust by 50 percent in aggregate.

However, the most interesting findings illustrate specific behaviors within market sectors:

    • Retail: online display advertising contributes more than five times the brand lift in likelihood to visit a website for the retail sector than it does overall. The implicit behavior here is that consumers really want choice of shopping destinations, but need to see evidence of an active thriving business.


    • Software: organic search impressions boost likelihood to visit a website (37%) and likelihood to purchase a software product (30%). The implicit behavior seems to be that users are looking for trust signals – where inbound links imply that it is a trusted brand.


    • Banking & Financial Services: combination of organic search and online display impressions produces a 44 percent lift in brand trust. Again, organic search seems to provide valuable trust signals to the user whilst, perhaps, online display indicates a thriving business, and thus even more worthy of trust.


    • Insurance: organic search impressions produce a 150 percent lift in the likelihood to purchase. This suggests that whilst aggregators create exposure, insurance brands can generate more purchase intent by also having their own well optimized website.


  • Hotel: the combination of organic search results and display impressions creates a 144 percent lift in likelihood to purchase. Much like the insurance industry, aggregators may be providing choice, but users are qualifying their decisions on the hotel brands own performance in the search results and across other media channels.

This is just a summary of the findings, there are many more per industry vertical in the white paper. The key takeaway is that every market behaves differently and in nearly all cases, organic search reinforces the trustworthiness of sites that advertise, yet conversely, advertising generates more distinctiveness and recognition within the organic results. Whilst social media mentions and mobile impressions were not included in this study, it seems fair to suppose that these also improve brand favorability and likelihood to visit and purchase from your website.

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