November 2, 2010, 6:00 AM

Online ads and search results leave lasting impressions, even if consumers don’t click

Shoppers are more likely to buy after viewing paid search ads for retailers.

Lead Photo

A new study released today finds online ads and search results can stick—even if the consumer doesn’t click.

The poll, sponsored by search engine marketing and interactive agency iProspect and conducted by web measurement firm comScore Inc., examined how consumers react when they view organic search results, paid search results and online display advertising. It looked at how viewing such ads or results impacts brand favorability, likelihood to make a purchase, likelihood to visit a web site, and brand trust. The study used 15 brands from across the retail, insurance, banking/financial services, software and hotel industries.

When it comes to brand favorability, paid search listings have the most impact, the study finds.  Alone, paid search impressions boost brand favorability 28% across all categories, the highest impact of the three types of impressions studied. For the retail sector that figure is 35%.

Additionally, combining paid search and organic search boosts brand favorability by 40% across all sectors. This combination achieved the best results in the hotel sector, lifting brand favorability by 56%.

The study also finds that shoppers who view ads and search results online are more likely to choose to buy from those companies down the line.

Paid search impressions are particularly adept at influencing buying behavior, whether they are used alone or in conjunction with other digital media, the study finds. Overall, shoppers are 44% more likely to buy from a company that they have seen in a paid search ad. That figure climbs to 54% for the retail industry, the study finds.

Shoppers who see both organic and paid search results are 73% more likely to buy from the company across all categories. That figures climbs to 147% for hotels.

For the banking and financial services sector, organic and display impressions make the most potent combination for enticing shoppers to buy. Shoppers are 64% more likely to patronize banking and financial services companies that show them this mix of media.

“This study demonstrates that there is a lot more value to digital media than just direct conversions,” says Robert Murray, CEO of iProspect. “Clearly, brand awareness and favorability are driving revenue across the online marketing channels. Given that, these findings have serious implications for companies that currently measure their search and online display campaigns solely on their ability to produce ROI-based conversions. That perspective is short-sighted. Instead, marketers should start tapping into search and display for branding efforts to improve their performance.”

When it comes to gaining more site traffic, the combination of organic and paid search impressions works the best, increasing the likelihood that a consumer will visit a web site by 95%. Paid search ads alone increase consumers’ likelihood to visit a retail site by 75%.

Other findings include:


  • Paid search has the greatest impact on brand favorability, both alone (28%) and in combination with organic search (40%).


  • The combination of organic and paid search impressions boosts brand trust by 50% across all categories.


  • For hotels, the combination of organic search results and display impressions creates a 144% lift in likelihood to purchase






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