A recent study reported in eMarketer (results graphic below) shows a surprising boost in organic searches when consumers are exposed to an online display ad.
What is especially interesting is the variation by industry:
(Could it be that display ads in certain industries are more effective than others? I’m guessing that’s at least part of it.)
Obviously, the real test of a display ad is not its effectiveness at spurring interest (i.e., a search), but at making a sale. It turns out the lift in coversions of combining display ads with paid search is significant as well. In a prior study by Microsoft and Atlas DMT, reported in this Clickz article, it was found that overall conversions when search and display ads were used simultaneously was 22%.
What is significant about this study, however, is for some categories of business there was no lift in conversions whatsoever.
The fact that conversion rates improve at all is good news for online advertising. In fact, the eMarketer piece concludes with a prediction for this harrowing new year:
Search and display ads will retain the highest share of online ad spending formats through 2013, and will be the only formats to maintain double-digit share through that period.
It will be interesting to watch.