Add3 – Digital Marketing Agency with offices in Seattle & Portland

Ok, so this post is not about coffee, but I wondered about this the other day and Googled it to see what I could find and surprisingly there is a super scientific reason for it. I was hoping maybe someone would be broad matching to “coffee” and I could somehow make it relevant to my post, but apparently Starbucks has their negative keyword list in order. So instead, I’ll just save the answer for the end of the post and hope you actually read it to get there.

Study: Paid Search Ads Lift Brand Awareness

The core of paid search is direct response. Potential customers pose a question to Google/Bing and advertisers answer it with their ad, generally promoting a relevant response with their product/service that satisfies the search/question. But is there more? There is! And there’s proof!


Google recently released this cool new study showing actual data that supports increased brand awareness due to paid search ads in top ad position.

The overall findings claim a 6.6% lift in brand recognition when advertisers were in top positions for non-brand search queries. For the study, they had participants do simulated searches for keywords related to the categories being tested and were shown either a control SERP or test SERP, where the brand of interest in the test category was in the top ad spot.

When asked afterwards, which brand came to mind for that particular category, 14.8% of the time, test group respondents named the brand that was in the top ad spot. Only 8.2% of respondents in the control group named the same brand.


Click on the image to enlarge the infographic!

What’s Missing?

There are a couple aspects of this idea though that the study leaves unanswered. I really like what Search Engine Land had to say about the study and the points they brought up.

First, the test was only conducted for the very top ad position. It would be interesting to see if there was any increase in brand awareness with ads in other positions. Or differences in each position, so not just comparing recognition for position 1 vs. no ad, but position1 vs. 2 or 3 or even above organic results vs. right rail.

The study also doesn’t take organic results into consideration. They may have controlled for this, but it was not included in the study whether the brand happened to also have a strong organic presence. It seems that top brands who bid for position 1 in paid search might also rank well organically and that would likely impact brand awareness as well.

What’s The Impact? (outside of the obvious)

Search Engine Watch has some thoughts, but I have my own as well.

If showing up in top positions for non-brand terms – not just #1, say this brand lift holds true for at least ads above organic results – improves brand awareness then it backs up the strategy of bidding on your brand terms (for at least one of the ten reasons to do so). This is proof that users can and do remember your brand from a previous non-branded search and if that awareness drives them to do subsequent searches and try to go back and find you via you brand you should be there. The “conversions” coming in on your brand terms are not ALL accidental from current customers who think they’re logging in to their account via your “free quote” request form.

This study doesn’t directly prove that, but the more ammo the better and that fun infographic is a great “bullet” we can shoot (pun intended) over to our clients.

Why coffee tastes so good but makes your breath smell so bad:

  1. Caffeine in coffee slows saliva production
  2. Saliva helps kill bacteria in your mouth
  3. Saliva helps digest food particles stuck in your teeth
  4. Bacteria that cause bad breath grow out of control in the absence of saliva
  5. Result is bad breath!


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Nora Park

About Nora Park

Nora Park is an Account Director at Add3. She has been doing paid search marketing for 8 years; the past 5 with Add3. Outside the office, Nora enjoys running, cooking and spending time with her husband and 2 year old son, Tyson.

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