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How effective is search advertising?

A piece of research published in the US has questioned whether search advertising gets too much credit for converting online sales at the expense of other forms of brand building advertising.

The findings are based on a study by Atlas (part to aQuantive in the US), that tracked online user behaviour and sales conversion by using cookies for almost 5 billion adverts and 1.7 million online sales transactions. The conclusion was that, although search advertising displays a high sales conversion rate from users clicking through from ads which lead to a sale, around two-thirds of these customers who took an action had actually previously reached the websites 2 or more times via ads on several sites.

These results indicate that awareness plays a more important role in driving that final sale than some may think. What this also indicates is that search is still the primary method of driving the eventual sales when users are looking to buy a product or service online. However, in all forms of marketing, brand awareness can also be a strong factor in deciding a sale and one has to question the target sample and the motivation for publishing this data. A previous Atlas study showed that brand awareness can lead to a 22% higher chance of a sales conversion and this latest research perhaps also indicates that many large brand organisations are also now embracing search marketing as part of their advertising mix.

In the data-heavy world on Internet marketing, this latest research provides an interesting slant on the way that PPC advertising works, based on a significant base of data. It also gives some additional measurement to the impact of brand advertising, the effect of which is often difficult to quantify, whether online or offline. What's more, this trend will also build pressure on smaller advertisers who are using PPC as an effective marketing method, but who are facing increasing cost pressures from bigger companies who are using their purchasing power to bid high as a brand-building exercise as well as a direct sales tool.

This article was first published in the July 2007 edition of our monthly newsletter.

For more information on how search advertising could drive your business, please contact us for details. Alternatively, please request a FREE website assessment and see what you could achieve with a successful search engine marketing campaign.