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Google Ads increase brand awareness by 6.6%

A recently published study by Google and Ipsos MediaCT has helped to shed light on the [digital] age old question: Does pay-per-click (PPC) advertising really increase brand awareness?


Teams from the two companies got together in order to show the impact that a prominently placed search result can have on brand awareness.

The research project saw 61 studies spanning a total of 12 industries, from consumer packaged goods to the automotive industry. 800 people were chosen by the research team to perform a selection of simulated searches for generic terms such as “hiking boots”.

The participants were then presented with one of two search engine results pages (SERPs): a standard control page, or a test page specifically created for the study, which placed a brand in the top Adwords position. The organic SERPs were not manipulated in any way.

Control SERP and test SERP

When the participants viewing the test page were asked to name a brand relating to that search, you guessed it, they were able to name the brand in 14.8% of cases on average. This compares to the control group’s 8%.

12 industries were included in total, each with varying degrees of awareness increase. The big winners were the automotive industry with a top-of-mind awareness increase of 9%.

So are we surprised? It is reasonable to expect that consumers who are actively searching for services will take note of well placed banners. Afterall, placed advertisements are almost as old as marketing itself.
This is great news for marketers and highlights the importance of a well executed PPC campaign. These campaigns, when utilised fully, place your advert whilst the consumer is in a buying frame of mind. Marketers are finally realising how vital a good PPC campaign can be to their business’ performance, partly because of the increase in consumer use.

Now what?

The initial results are promising, but arguably confirm what most marketers should already suspect. Your brand name appearing at the top of a generic SERP increases awareness of your brand. Who’d have guessed? It would be very interesting to see the content of the test ads and how this may have impacted results. For example, did all the test group ads feature the brand-name in the ad’s title? Did any of the brands in the test group appear in the organic listings below?

It is perhaps not a huge leap to expect that including your brand name in the ad’s title will boost brand awareness further. However, this will likely come at the expense of call-to-action elements and therefore conversions. It is essential for all marketers to decide on their commercial objectives before running a PPC campaign and put in place tools to measure the campaign’s efficiency.

Despite all this, it’s the first time that an official study of this kind has been conducted and it’s great to see the numbers confirming the assumptions.

….now where are those hiking boots?




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