October 20, 2009, 12:00 AM

Levi’s finds the value of paid search ads goes beyond clicks

Consumers are more likely to recall the Levi’s brand name when they see the manufacturer’s site both at the top of organic and paid search on a Google results page, a study shows.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research


While jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co. knew that search ads drove traffic to its web site, a study with Google Inc. suggests that even paid search ads that don’t generate clicks help in raising consumer awareness of the Levi’s brand. And top spots in both organic and natural search results in more clicks to Levis.com, and fewer to competitors’ sites, the study shows.

The study first looked at brand awareness, and found that when Levi’s appeared in the top spot in both organic and paid listings on a Google search results page 90% of consumers who saw that page later named Levi`s when asked to name one brand of jeans. Only 53% named Levi’s after seeing a page where Levi’s had the top position in sponsored ads but not natural search results; 44% when Levi’s was tops in natural search, but not paid search ads; and 23% when Levi’s wasn`t represented at all. “Search is a key part of Levi’s brand strategy to build awareness and is a good way to keep Levi’s top of mind for consumers,” says Megan O’Connor, head of digital marketing at Levi’s.

The study also determined that sponsored search ads helped to drive site traffic and decrease clicks on competitors’ sites. Of study participants who were shown jeans search results pages where Levi’s had top positions in both organic and paid search, 68% clicked on either the paid or organic search result listing. 58% clicked on the Levi’s listing when shown a page where Levi’s appeared in the top position for sponsored ads only, and 59% clicked on a Levi’s ad when shown a page displaying Levi’s in the top position for organic search only.

And when shown results pages for a jeans search where Levi’s wasn’t represented at all, 57% of participants clicked on a jeans listing from a competing brand. Clicks on competitors’ listings shrunk to 51% when participants were shown a results page with Levi’s only in the top position for organic search; to 47% when they saw a page with Levi’s represented only in the top sponsored ad position, and 44% when they saw a page listing Levi’s in the top position in both organic and paid ad results.

The study was based on responses from 2,000 online consumers who had purchased jeans recently, or intended to soon. It was developed by Google, Levi’s and Levi’s interactive agency, Razorfish, which Microsoft Corp. recently sold to French advertising company Publicis Groupe SA. Research was conducted under Google’s sponsorship by OTX, an independent marketing research company, in a controlled laboratory setting mimicking an actual online search experience.



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