Search Engine Marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s a popular form of advertising for driving conversions and direct responses. Unlike other marketing channels, it gives you instant results that can be easily measured against your total spend.

Despite being an effective advertising channel, search marketing is more likely to be considered for ‘bottom funnel’ goals. It receives less budget allocation as compared to a variety of digital and traditional marketing channels for brand promotion. This comes from the hypothesis that search marketing is effective only to drive conversion and doesn’t have an effect on brand awareness.

Well studies have prove this hypothesis wrong

Google and Ipos MediaCT conducted 61 different search experiments throughout 2013 to understand the impact of search ads on brand awareness. 800 U.S. buyers who met the specific criteria of an advertiser were part of this experiment. The buyers were asked to search for a particular category keyword on their desktop or laptop. They were then shown a controlled search engine results page (SERP) or test SERP featuring the test brand in the top search ad position, while the ad from other brands didn’t get displayed at all.  The organic search results of the SERP were not biased in any way.

 Controlled SERP Vs. Test SERP

Categories Considered: apparel and durables, auto, B2B, classified and local, consumer packaged goods (CPG), education, financial services, healthcare, media and entertainment, retail, tech and travel.

The analyses show that search indeed has a positive impact on both top-of-mind awareness and unaided brand awareness even when the buyer doesn’t click on the ad.

“Top-of-mind awareness is defined in Marketing Metrics: “The first brand that comes to mind when a customer is asked an unprompted question about a category. The percentage of customers for whom a given brand is top of mind can be measured.”

“Unaided brand awareness definition: A measure of the number of people who express knowledge of a brand or product without prompting (brand recall).”

When buyers were asked what brand name first came to their mind while searching for specific category keyword, an average of 14.8% in the Test group named the test brand, while just 8.2% of the Control group named the same brand. That’s a 6.6 percentage point increase or an average 80% lift in top-of-mind awareness.

Search ads also lifted unaided brand awareness as well. When respondents were provoked to name up to four more brands related to the same category keyword, total unaided awareness among all brands named was 26.7% in the Test group versus 17.5% in the Control group, showing an average lift of 9.2 percentage points.

Showcase your brands prominently and distinctly via search ads

Now you know search ads help create positive brand awareness among your targeted audience. So utilize this powerful, cost-effective channel to drive brand awareness and consideration, not just conversions. To showcase your brands among category-interested—albeit undecided—buyers:

1. In addition to the brand terms, target category specific keywords to connect with the wide search audience during their most effective moments of purchasing decision.

2. Target the top ad position to help your brand stand out from other competitors.

3. Use search advertising for more than driving cost-efficient conversions.

You can read and download the complete experiment report here.