It is clear to see the advantages that paid search brings to direct response campaigns as the results of pre-determined KPIs are easily measurable. Brand awareness campaigns on the other hand, which are typically measured by impressions and clicks, do not represent the number of people who remember your brand after seeing an ad (if they even saw it).

Last month however, Google in partnership with Brand Research Specialists Ipsos MediaCT released results driven from 61 studies performed across 12 different verticals (from auto to retail), which found that search ads lift top-of-mind awareness by an average 6.6 percentage points.


In each study, some 800 qualified consumers ran searches for certain category keywords on a simulator on desktop and laptop devices, like “hiking boots” or “small cars”. They were then shown either Control search engine results page (SERP) or a Test SERP created for the study, which put the test brand in the top search ad position.

Customers were then asked to name the brand which first came to mind for the category keyword. On average, 14.8% in the Test group named the test brand, while just 8.2% of the Control group named the same brand. That’s a 6.6 percentage point increase or an average 80% lift in top-of-mind awareness.

Certain vertical-level results were much higher than the average. For Consumer Packaged Goods, top-of-mind awareness was 11.1%, and search ads lifted top-of-mind awareness by an average of 8% to 19.1%. In auto, there was an average lift of 9%.

It is important not to get carried away with these results as they only consider ads are in top position, which of course means increasing bids to drive results advertisers may achieve from lower ad positions, spending less money. Furthermore it is possible that the customers who performed this experiment would not have acted in the same way as a normal customer running a search query in a natural environment. That said, this study does make a strong case for running paid search as a brand awareness channel. Visit here to learn more about the study.