Top Ad + Top Organic = Buy
Searchers are more likely to consider purchasing, to remember specific brands, and to associate specific brands with keywords when ads are in the search results, according to a newly study from Enquiro.
Conversely, searchers were less likely to consider purchasing a brand that doesn’t appear in on the search results page.
(Editor’s Note: The study, which found that search advertising was good, was sponsored by Google. And if you’re extra cynical, that’s like AT&T sponsoring research finding that Network Neutrality is bad. But Enquiro’s a reputable firm, so we’ll run with it. – Jason)
Participants were instructed to search for "fuel efficient cars," and then were questions about their research to determine attitudes toward and awareness of Honda. Each group were presented with different search results, some where Honda did not appear in the results, some with only a side sponsored ad listing, some with just a top organic listing, some with just a top sponsored ad listing, and some with both top sponsored and top organic.
The study found the most powerful results when both a top ad and a top organic listing were present. When later asked to think about fuel efficient cars and list which cars came to mind, 16 percent more of the group that saw both the top sponsored ad and the top organic result associated fuel efficiency with Honda. Further, there was a 42 percentage point gap between Honda and other brands, and a seven percent increase when only a side ad listing present.
When asked which brands they remembered seeing in the search results, the participants were over twice as likely to name Honda when both the top ad and the top organic were present.
Having a top sponsored ad and a top organic result also increased purchased consideration by eight percentage points. Searchers were 16 percentage points less likely to consider purchasing a brand not listed in the search results at all.
This result held true even for branded queries ("Honda fuel efficient cars"). When a top ad listing was added to a top organic listing, searchers were seven percentage points more likely consider a purchase.
Enquiro interprets the results to mean advertisers should purchase both branded and non-branded keywords. Based on eye tracking results, the company also recommends placing branded keywords in the title, the URL, and as close to the start of the description as possible.
The study comes amid increasing concerns over ad-blindness among consumers. Past eye-tracking studies have shown that searchers are increasingly likely to ignore not just advertisements but also actual content in places where they expect advertising to be, namely at the top or the right side of the page.
The whitepaper from the study with charts and graphs can be found at Enquiro’s website.