What is the Value of Branded Ad Campaigns?

Recently, I’ve had a few conversations with clients about the value of running a branded paid search campaign.

Often, when considering this type of paid search campaign, I hear the question, “Why would we pay for a first position ad placement if we’re already in the first position of organic results?”

Obviously, the benefits of investing in a brand campaign depends on the client and their goals and my response is usually within that vein.

I communicate to the client that there are a few different variables to examine when determining whether or not to run a brand campaign:

  1. Is your company in the first position on the SERP for all variations of your brand name? If not, bid on the brand name phrases that you don’t display in the first position in Organic results.
  2. Are competitors bidding on your brand? If so, run a brand campaign to ensure a top spot.
  3. What are your goals? Do you want to build awareness? Drive conversions? Both?

While these client-specific questions help to decide whether or not to invest in a brand campaign, it doesn’t offer any answers as to the benefits that a client might expect from a branded ad campaign. When I feel strongly that the client should run a brand campaign, I need more data to communicate the reasons why. So, I went in search for more information and found a couple of interesting studies that provide data about the value of paid search for brand terms.

First Study – Google and Ipsos MediaCT

Google and Ipsos MediaCT conducted a study that explore the impacts of search ads on brand awareness. The research included 61 studies, exploring 12 verticals, with 800 participants and found that search ads lift top-of-mind awareness by an average of 6.6 percentage points. Different verticals had varying results, which are detailed below:

Google Search Ads

Second Study – Conductor

Another study, performed in 2012 by Conductor found that when a brand appeared in paid search together with organic search results, above the fold, brand awareness scores increased by 20 percent above the baseline and 10 percent when appearing only in organic search.

The author notes that the addition of the brand appearing in paid search together with organic search listings did not provide any lift to brand quality and purchase consideration scores.

conductor paid search study results

This last finding interested me, so I explored my own clients’ brand campaign performance. I believe that branded paid search does contribute to purchase considerations and to validate my belief, I looked to Multi-Channel reporting in Google Analytics.

While I don’t have the volume of data to publish anything official on the topic, when looking at the contributions that branded paid search campaigns make to overall marketing efforts and conversion activities of a recent client, I find that the brand campaign is a step in the funnel in two of the top three conversion paths, and involved in half of the top ten conversion paths. While it’s not definitive data, it does give me the impression that brand campaigns play a role in driving conversions.

The result of my brief research provided some helpful data to demonstrate the value of branded ad campaigns to clients — branded ad campaigns have been proven to lift brand awareness and, in my opinion, contribute to conversions.

What is your experience? Do you believe that branded ad campaigns only contribute to awareness or do they have an impact on both awareness and conversions?