"Typically, ROI models for search don't give any value to a search impression, but this study finds that there's brand value in a search impression, particularly in top-of-mind awareness and purchase intent," said Kevin Kells, Google's CPG Industry Director.
About 2,400 survey respondents were exposed to one generic search term such as "drinks," or "make-up," followed by a brand survey designed to measure brand impact in the areas of aided brand awareness, unaided brand awareness, purchase consideration, and purchase intent.
Most surprising, according to Kells, was the decrease in awareness when a brand did not appear in one of four key product categories-- beverage, cosmetic, food/snack, household cleaning/laundry--and its competitor did.
The findings, said Kells, support "the need for ROI models of search to include the impression--not just the click--to value the effectiveness of a search campaign in CPG."
Overall, brand presence anywhere on a search results page positively impacts key brand metrics, Google found, while marketers have greater control over their message with paid search--especially on a generic search term.
As a branding vehicle, paid search strives for top-of-mind awareness for clients' brand, and negatively impacts awareness for their competitive set, while impressions provide "free" brand lift, without the CPC investment.
Going forward, one of the areas that is ripe for further exploration is "media mix modeling that includes search and a look at the impact over time--two weeks out, one month out, etc." according to Kells.