How does branding affect purchase behavior? What is branding worth? What can I do to build my brand?
These are all timely and hotly contested questions. While there may never be definitive answers, new research on the brand value of search advertising can shed some precious light on the subject.
Working with Media-Screen, a group of our Google CPG folks conducted a study titled Brand Value of Search. They set out to measure the impact of paid search ads on generic search terms. Using four product categories (beverage, cosmetics, food/snack, household cleaning/laundry) they measured the following:
- unaided brand awareness (What brands come to mind when I say "beverage"?)
- aided brand awareness (Have you heard of Snapple?)
- purchase consideration
- purchase intent
The most significant impact was on unaided brand awareness, with an average lift of 24 percentage points, depending on the category and the brand measures. Purchase intent and purchase consideration were also significantly affected, with an average lift of 6 and 7 percentage points, respectively.
Click through rates (CTR) and conversions have traditionally been the most visible measurements for search campaigns, but advertisers can rest at ease knowing that even just having eyeballs hit ads is a very good thing. In fact, your ROI calculations could be much more accurate if you account for the brand value of search advertising.
Let's look at an example. Say you have a campaign set at $1 per click with a two percent CTR. So for $2 you would get two clicks…but you would also get 100 impressions. Those impressions are a key factor in driving top-of-mind awareness and are another crucial element in customer engagement with your brand. In fact, in the study, researchers found that a lack of search presence negatively impacts awareness. In other words, not showing up in paid search can result in customers forgetting about your brand!
A similar study conducted last year with Enquiro Search Solutions, Inc. found that even for branded queries, presence in both top sponsored and top organic results boosts purchase intent. In the study, Honda showed a 7 percent lift in purchase intent. The key finding was that both unbranded and branded keywords are effective in building brand value.
Every company and brand is different, and so advertisers should think about the impact impressions has on their brand and how they can include it in their ROI calculations. Although humanity will probably continue to struggle with branding questions, at least we are headed down the path to enlightenment.