Advertisers should consider combining search and display advertising in their search engine marketing campaigns, as a recent study by Atlas Institute reveals that on average conversion rates improve when both are incorporated together.
The study analyzed 11 advertisers which were grouped depending on the extent of their media exposure: search only, display only and both search and display. Atlas Institute observed 2.5 million search clicks (on paid search engine results only) and more than 10.8 million impressions from 1.8 million users, to determine that searchers exposed to both search and display advertising from the same advertiser converted 22 percent more than search alone.
44 percent of the sample tested who had clicked on text ads, were also exposed to display ads from the same advertiser. Esco Strong of the Atlas Institute suggests that this finding is significant enough for marketers to be considering this kind of approach in their search engine marketing campaigns.
Overall it was found that users shown only search ads converted 3 times the rate to those who were only exposed to display ads, whereas searchers exposed to both forms of ads converted four times as much as viewing display ads alone, resulting in a 22 percent increase over search alone.
Strong states that users that had exposure to both media types generally showed a higher search click to conversion rate, which meant that these consumers were more likely to continue with a purchase or sign up. Also of value for marketers was the individual search clicks performance – Strong points out the increasing costs advertisers face with paid search, and how display advertising can increase the return on ad spend on search and also justify those higher prices on specific keywords.
Possible explanations that suggest why this fusion of display and search ads is a winning combination include:
- The ability for display advertising to generate brand awareness and increase purchase intent.
- Display ads can help win consumers over that previously searched on a brand/product but never followed through with a purchase or sign up.
- The possibility for display ads to drive brand searches.
- Consumers who initially visit a site by clicking on a display ad may use search as a navigation tool to later return to the site.
These results also support research conducted by Yahoo! in 2005, which revealed that display advertising can have a significant impact on users’ search behavior. In this study, the searchers that were exposed to Harrisdirect display ads performed 61 percent more searches on Harrisdirect related keywords. The same group exposed to these display ads also clicked through on Harrisdirect-related terms at a rate 249 percent higher than those who were not shown the display ads, and also clicked on links directed to their website at a rate 139 percent higher than those not exposed.