Advertisers tend to separate their digital advertising—they think of search advertising for performance marketing and turn to display for branding. But the reality is that search advertising coupled with display advertising yields better results than when used independently.
Implementing this proven tactic allows advertisers to optimize their campaigns while increasing both their reach and results.
Search and display: together, they lift search activity.
Display advertising generally is measured by direct responses—a click of some kind—which is the simplest metric to track. But this method misses a great deal of an ad’s effectiveness and makes it impossible to accurately determine the return on a campaign spend. That’s because nearly as many Internet users respond to online display advertising by performing a search on a search engine (27 percent) as those who simply click on the ad itself (31 percent), according to iProspect’s study Search Engine Marketing and Online Display Advertising.1
This means that when users are exposed to banner or display ads, there are significant increases in related brand-term searches, such as for the name of the brand, company or product. Aligning the messaging in display and search marketing ads maximizes their impact by creating a cohesive experience for users.
Value City Furniture tested this philosophy, running display ads along with search ads, and was extremely pleased with the results. The company discovered that its Yahoo! display campaign increased branded-term searches by 168 percent. As a result, Value City Furniture increased its display advertising budget by 30 percent.2 An extensive study by Specific Media in 2008 proved that the Value City Furniture study isn’t merely an anecdotal example. It tracked more than 60 campaigns over 12 months and found distinct evidence that display advertising and search supported each other.3
The study confirmed that consumers exposed to display advertising were significantly more likely to search for brand terms (i.e. automotive manufacturer), and segment terms (i.e. vehicle class), than unexposed consumers. On average, there was a 155 percent lift in search activity across eight industry categories. These impressive results also prove how essential it is to evaluate campaign effectiveness using methods that track more than just click rates.
There’s a lot going on beyond the click.
In 2009, Yahoo! conducted the Retail Reconnaissance study, which measured other kinds of actions consumers took beyond clicks. It found that there was a 59 percent lift in conversions when users searched for retailers after being exposed to display advertising.4
A 2010 Eyeblaster study found that 72 percent of online conversions were a direct result of display ads. 23 percent of conversions were driven by the search channel. And 5 percent of conversions were attributed to customers seeing display ads, followed by search ads.5
In the funnel model, the consumer moves from awareness through favorability, consideration and intent to purchase, down to the purchase itself. Search gets its best returns when a prospect is already near the purchasing moment, but display reaches potential customers at every point along the funnel.
The big lesson learned from these studies is that each channel plays a unique role in the campaign and is not mutually exclusive. With this in mind, advertisers can now more effectively target potential customers throughout the funnel process.
In 2009, Digital marketing firm iCrossing found that display ad campaigns increased visits from search engines by nearly 14 percent, raised paid search click-throughs by almost 15 percent, and decreased the cost-per-click (CPC) by more than 11 percent.6
Running a display campaign causes a statistically significant increase in search traffic, whether measured by search visits, unique visits or paid search click-throughs, the iCrossing report determined: “CPC, which was lowered during the display campaign, also shows that targeted display campaigns help other media campaigns reach cost efficiency.”
Engage consumers with interactive ads.
Up until recently, advertisers couldn’t combine the function of search with display ads. It was either one or the other. But Yahoo! solved that problem by creating Yahoo! Rich Ads in Search (RAIS)—an innovative ad format that allows advertisers to include video, custom search boxes, logos or images alongside a traditional text search ad.
Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group tested RAIS after its strategic digital marketing partner, Performics, saw the potential for combining the relevance of search marketing with the impact of rich media, especially given the current prominent page location for RAIS.
In 2009, HP conducted a one-month test based on keywords that previously performed well in paid search to which it added a logo and a video clip. The company realized an astonishing 774 percent total increase in click-through rates over traditional search ads and a 19-42 percent increase click-through per keyword, exceeding Yahoo!’s benchmark expectations of 15 percent.7
Make decisions based on long-term goals.
Businesses who limit their campaigns to only one online communication channel—meaning, either search or display advertising—are significantly limiting the longterm effectiveness of their marketing efforts. Forrester Research discovered that 49 percent of people eventually respond to a display ad by searching for the company, product or service it advertised.8
“Not only does this finding demonstrate the power of display to drive search, but it also speaks to the fact that marketers will miss a considerable percentage of potential respondents if they don’t support their display efforts with search engine marketing,” the study concluded. “The relationship between the two channels appears tighter than many may have realized.”
Combining search and display gives the savvy advertiser a fuller canvas for connecting customers to a brand, product or service. Insightful keywords for search, effective creative for display, and the online advertiser’s ability to be flexible, all work best and most cost-effectively when incorporated into a cohesive and comprehensive campaign.
1. Search Engine Marketing and Online Display Advertising Integration Study, Forrester Consulting for iProspect.com, Inc.
2. Value City Furniture Case Study – Yahoo! Internal Data, 2010
3. Based on comScore Ad Effectiveness data for Specific Media display advertising clients over 12-month period ending August 2008.
4. Retail Reconnaissance, “Search Drives In-Store Purchases For National Retailers”, 2009
5.“Search & Display: Reach Beyond the Keyword,” Eyeblaster, February 2010
6.“The Effects of Display Media on Search Traffic,” iCrossing 2009
7. Hewlett-Packard case study – Yahoo! Internal Data, 2009
8. Search Engine Marketing and Online Display Advertising Integration Study, Forrester Consulting for iProspect.com, Inc.
Download this article in PDF format.