Study claims search ads improve brand awareness

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Search ads for brand awareness

Google has published the results of a study in which it claims search ads promote brand awareness.

The company argues that because of this paid search ads are more valuable to businesses, marketers and advertisers than some presume.

In particular, the results of the study appear to target what Google describes as "the assumption that search only drives conversion and doesn't have an effect further up the funnel on brand awareness".

The study shows that search ads promote "top-of-mind-awareness", a given brand or a specific product being first to enter the customers mind when asked questions about an industry; and claims that people who have seen a given search ad are more likely to recall the name of its brand.

How reliable is the study?

Google partnered with Ipsos MediaCT for the research which involved 61 experiments to find out how search ads affected brand awareness in a person's mind. For each experiment 800 US citizens "who met the advertiser's specific target criteria" simulated a search for a keyword on their computer and, unknown to them, were shown either test page search results or a control search result.

In the test results, a test brand was featured at the top of the page, with all the other ads moved down one position. The control didn't feature any ads from the test brand. The normal search results beneath the ads were not manipulated.

After searching, each person was asked a standardised question:

"Now please tell us what other brands of X [where X is a category keyword e.g. small cars] come to mind. If you cannot think of any brands, check the box labeled 'Don't know.'"

After Google crunched the numbers, its results state that on average the responses of the test brand were 14.8 per cent in the test group compared with 8.2 per cent in the control.

Kleon West, business development director at theEword, said: "In the short term, while these are certainly interesting figures that may show the extra value of paid search ads on Google, it's important to be balanced and to consider that we don't know how long these benefits last for."

"But in the long term, as Google has nearly 90 per cent of search volume it's also worth noting how much visibility and awareness a well placed series of ads could give your product or business."