The impact of paid search visibility on Brand Awareness.


I want to dedicate this post to all the advertisers out there struggling to understand the meaning of search beyond direct response actions or lower funnel conversions. For those of you that found means of using search further up the funnel, I feel for you my peeps.
In 2013, Google and Ipsos MediaCT conducted 61 simulated search experiments to measure the impact of search ads on brand awareness. The results showed us positive results proving the impact of search on both top-of-mind awareness and unaided brand awareness.


What were the studies like: 800 american consumers that meet certain criteria go on Google and search for more generic terms. Then the consumers are being shown either a control SERP (search engine results page) or a test SERP in concrete categories, such as apparel, auto, financial, education and etc. The test results featured a Test brand that is used to prove the hypothesis. The Test brand is not featured in the control group.




  •  14.8% in the test group thought of the test brand and only 8.2% of the Control group thought of the same brand.
  • The search ads also helped with unaided brand awareness. When the consumers had to name four more brands related to the specific keywords from the search queries they were entering before, the total unaided awareness  was 26.7% in the Test group versus 17.5% in the Control group.

To reach your audience in the same way as suggested in the research, you can do follow these tips by Google: 

  • Bid on more generic category keywords  to connect with the largest possible search audience at the most effective moments of their purchasing process.
  • Try to be in the top 3 positions for better results but this might be pricey.

Before you start on anything, please make sure you go through the following steps:

  1. Define the goals.

If your long-term goal is sales, break it down not only to micro conversions that lead to the macro but also try to break it to smaller steps in terms of the customer journeys. I will not buy anything from your brand if I am not yet aware of it and I will not start searching its name just out of nowhere. You will need to generate traffic in the first place if you ever want to drive sales. For an awareness campaign obviously you have the usual suspects: display, video, social (cuz it’s cheap, innit) and the metrics that make sense:


  1. Clicks
  2. Avg. position
  3. Impression share
  4. Click-through rate
  5. Cost per click

However, in the instances where you want to generate brand awareness through ppc campaigns, you will have to focus your efforts on these exact metrics and really put effort in optimizing for them.

2. Identify Your Audience & Channels

Ok, we have to be clear on this. It is logical if I am running an awareness campaign on display or social, that I will have to know where is my audience hanging out online.

This is because of the proactive/reactive nature of the campaign types. If on social I am able to actively target people before they even begin their search quests or before they type a search terms, on Search campaign – you have people who are determined and aimed their search queries for an immediate response. In the second scenario, I don’t care about the channel. Every engine becomes my channel, end of story.

3. Measure bro!

Please start tracking all of your online metrics (and yes – include the miserable number of direct conversions). Now it will be the moment to consider a customised multichannel attribution model because it is highly possible that you will notice traffic or conversions as a result of your awareness efforts. Whether this happens straight away or days later, is also a big factor in the evaluation process. 


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