Research confirms it: Folks are less likely to consider a brand they don’t find in search results pages

The revelation that you risk losing business if prospects don’t find you in search results is just one of the conclusions from a newly-released research study from Enquiro (registration required). This report is packed with valuable insights. Here’s another: When a major brand (Honda) appeared as one of the top paid listings, as well as the top organic search engine result, the lift in brand recall was huge — 220%. As the graphic shows, this was compared to no organic result and a less prominent side ad. In addition, the lift in recall of this dual placement, when compared to a top organic listing alone, was still impressive — roughly 70%.

When brand is in the top ad AND the top organic listing, the lift more than doubles

Clearly, if you can sponsor a pricier ad that runs across the top of the search engine results page, go for it. This ad unit is far more effective than a side unit. Its brand recognition power in this study was equal to the top organic listing alone. That’s huge.

Brand recall is important, but what about intent to consider a purchase?

An ad / organic combination can also boost intent. For the Honda brand, when a non-branded phrase (“fuel efficient cars”) was searched upon, and the pairing of top ad and top organic results was encountered, an average 8% lift in intent was observed. Specifically, what was measured was an intention to include the brand in this person’s consideration set. This is no idle assurance, because all 2,744 participants in the study said they were considering buying a new car within the year.

A corresponding eye tracking study showed that this increased intent was mirrored by a significant bump in the time spent looking at both the sponsored and organic links for the brand.

Advertise On Brand Keywords — Even When You Show Up Organically

Now consider the graphic below. Even those who did a branded search (i.e., included a brand in their search query) were 7% more likely to consider purchasing that brand when an ad for it appeared above the brand’s top organic listing. At least, that’s the case when the brand in question is Honda.

Validation that you should advertise on your brand’s keywords

This is valuable validation. Other research, most notably from Nielsen Reelresearch, has shown a similar improvement in actually clicks to a site when an organic result and an ad are paired. But it’s hard to spend money on clicks from a paid ad when you have the top organic result for that keyword phrase.

Say What Counts In Your Text Ad’s Headline and Web Address

The eye generally overlooks the body copy, focusing on the text ad’s headline and web addressA final noteworthy finding is based on eye tracking “heat maps” of how consumers read these paid search ads. As the graphic to the right shows, the descriptive copy that follows the headline and precedes the URL barely gets a glance — at least for the typical results page viewer. (Click on the graphic for a zoomed-in view of the heat map.)

Further research would be helpful. For instance, how do heat maps differ for those who have clicked on the ad versus those who merely looked it over?

Nonetheless, this research is terrific evidence of the power of paid search, and how best to harness it.