A recent meta-analysis of 61 studies conducted by Google and Ipsos MediaCT found that paid search advertising, such as Google’s own AdWords platform, increases top-of-mind awareness by as much as 80 percent when compared with not using it at all.
There’s no doubt that paid search advertising, otherwise known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, can be a highly effective marketing strategy. It practically guarantees prominent visibility in the search engines for your targeted keywords, contributes to conversions and facilitates direct response. But are paid advertising strategies alone enough effort to build brand awareness?
Just One Piece of the Puzzle
David Salinas, co-founder and CEO of Digital Surgeons, a full-service, integrated branding agency, knows firsthand that paid search advertising is valuable for generating brand recognition. Still, he believes it’s merely one piece of a larger, and much more complex, brand-awareness strategy.
“In our business, as well as many we represent, we often hear prospective buyers say ‘I did a lot of Google searches, and you came up in every one,’” Salinas says. "Whether that's through paid search, organic [results] or some other tactic, it often adds points to brand equity.”
Other experts also view PPC as a supportive tactic to an overall brand-awareness campaign, albeit an extraordinarily effective one. Hanapin Marketing is a paid search agency based in Bloomington, Indiana, and the company maintains one of the leading PPC advertising blogs, PPC Hero. Jamie Newton, Hanapin’s communications coordinator, says his company’s account managers’ stance is that “smart creative through PPC can absolutely drive brand awareness for small business companies.”
Use PPC to Boost Proven Tactics
Newton points to examples like Dollar Shave Club and Airbnb, companies that have both used innovative video-marketing techniques combined with display advertising to develop a results-yielding creative strategy. By making unique, compelling videos and garnering more exposure using YouTube display advertising, these companies were able to position themselves as leading brands. “Both were small, no-name companies that exploded the success of their brands through clever brand initiatives backed by PPC campaigns in a short amount of time,” Newton says.
Video is increasingly noted by experts as a must-use digital marketing strategy. In fact, Invodo's whitepaper, Video Statistics: The Marketer’s Summary 2014, predicts that by 2017, video will comprise 74 percent of all Internet traffic. That means now is an ideal time to start honing your video strategy, particularly if you don’t want to miss out on nearly three-fourths of your potential traffic in just a few short years.
Visibility Is the Key
But video isn’t the only way to generate brand recognition through paid search advertising. In fact, Newton mentions two other tactics that are relatively easy to implement given today’s paid search advertising software platforms and services: branded search remarketing ads, and bidding on branded keywords.
Ultimately, what you're aiming for is visibility, and PPC can help you get more of that—particularly when it’s combined with other beneficial tactics. In the digital marketing space, everything is interwoven, so using multiple techniques tied into an overall strategy is often the ticket to really solidifying your brand.
“On Facebook, consumers will often equate brand equity to the number of likes a brand has, even though there's a high likelihood that the brand purchased those likes through paid advertising,” Salinas notes. “The goal for any business—large or small—is to be visible everywhere possible. That increases frequency, brand awareness and brand perception all in one fell swoop.”
In addition to being visible, Newton says, you must pay attention to your audience. “The biggest takeaway for a small business in using paid search advertising is that intent and creativity matter, as well as being able to measure your goals,” he explains. “If you've got those ready, a PPC campaign can do amazing things for your brand."
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