Pump Up Your Search Marketing Strategy with Social Media and Display Ads

Impressive evidence is beginning to mount up supporting the benefits of integrating social media and display advertising with search marketing efforts. According to a variety of recent studies, the effectiveness of search advertising—which businesses of all sizes have enthusiastically embraced due to its reasonable entry point, ease of execution and capability to measure ROI—can get a significant lift when you combine search campaigns with social media and display advertising.

Let’s take a look at specific findings from five recent reports.

Search and Display: Reach Beyond the Keyword (February 2010)
This study, conducted by digital-advertising solution provider Eyeblaster, found that for the search and display cross-channel campaigns it served from June 2008 to August 2009, almost 1 in 5 people who converted after search had viewed at least one display ad previously. According to the report, the data shows that display ads can stimulate search activity and might help you increase the reach of your search marketing campaign.

The Interplay of Search and Social Media (October 2009)
This study from search marketing specialists GroupM Search, found that searchers who engage in social media are more likely to search on brand or trademarked terms compared with consumers who do not engage in social media. Specifically, consumers who were exposed to both brand-specific social media and paid search ads were

  • Almost 3 times as likely to search for that brand’s products compared with users who saw only paid search ads
  • 2.4 times as likely to click organic links leading to an advertiser’s site
  • 1.7 times as likely to search with the intent of making a list of brands or products to consider
  • Clicking paid search ads at a rate at least 50% higher than those exposed only to search ads

The report concludes that social media exposes consumers to brands, products, features, benefits and corporate value propositions and provides a way for brands to become part of the important consideration set for purchases.

The Effects of Display Media on Search Traffic (August 2009)
In this study from digital marketing firm iCrossing, display ad campaigns increased Web site traffic from search engines by nearly 14%. The study also revealed that when search marketing is combined with an online display ad campaign, click-through rates (CTRs) for paid search ads increased about 15%, which in turn resulted in an 11% decrease in cost-per-click (CPC) expense.

According to the report, “An effective display campaign can increase search traffic by increasing brand awareness, brand recognition and brand preference. This brand affinity causes users to be more attracted to the brand website and helps media channels like SEM run more efficiently, boosting ROI.”

The Silent Click: Building Brands Online (June 2009)
The Online Publisher’s Association, in partnership with digital-marketing research firm comScore, released this report that investigates the behavior of consumers exposed to banner ads over the course of a month.

Key findings for consumers exposed to display ads—

  • 1 in 5 conducted brand-related searches
  • 1 in 3 visited the advertised brands’ sites
  • Consumers typically spent more time on advertisers’ sites and viewed more pages
  • Consumers spent more money on ecommerce overall and in the advertised categories
  • Consumers had higher income than other site visitors

Search Engine Marketing and Online Display Advertising Integration Study (May 2009)
This final study, commissioned by search-marketing firm iProspect and conducted by Forrester Consulting, looks at how display ads can influence Internet users’ actions. The research found that Internet users might take one of several specific actions initially after seeing a display ad, including:

  • Clicking the ad (31%)
  • Searching for the product, brand or company in the ad using a search engine (27%)
  • Typing the ad’s Web address directly into their browser and navigate to the advertiser’s site (21%)
  • Investigating the product, brand or company through social media or message boards (9%)

Almost as many Internet users search for a product, company or brand as click the ad, and a third as many check out the product, company or brand through some type of social media. Furthermore, when actions over time are considered, 49% say they perform a search on the product, company or brand at some point after seeing the ad. So display ads trigger actions other than ad click-throughs, and advertisers need to use search and social media campaigns to fully take advantage of the demand their display ads generate.

What Can You Do to Boost Your Search Marketing Efforts?
If you’re not already doing so, these studies should convince you that it’s worth your while to consider integrating social media and display campaigns with search marketing efforts—especially if your competitors aren’t. In 2008, Jupiter Research reported that only 26% of marketers coordinate search and display buys, with even fewer practicing cross-channel management. If you’ve cut back—or put off starting—display or social media campaigns to feed your search budget, you might reconsider your strategy to take advantage of the lift integrated online campaigns can deliver.