Search & Display, Married Forever

This month iProspect, a search marketing company, released a study about how display campaigns and search campaigns are integrated. The study highlighted, among other things, the need to include a solid search campaign with any online media effort. Not a very surprising conclusion considering that iProspect makes money from managing search campaigns, but the study did put numbers around what many of us in the industry have known all along. That is, running a display campaign without a fully integrated search campaign is like leaving money on the online ad revenue table. Further, a savy competitor who recognizes this error can lucratively capitalize on your mistake.

The study proclaims that 38% of internet users who respond to an online display advertising campaign eventually perform a search on the company, product, or service in question. The study also concludes that "almost as many Internet users respond to online display advertising by performing a search on a search engine (27%) as those who simply click on the ad itself (31%)". This means that your display campaigns not only generate traffic directly to your website via ad clicks, but a significant percentage of your potential customers find their way down the search funnel as well. As I have mentioned in previous posts, search does not generate demand it is merely a stream of demand which you can capture with the right funnel. The only way to capture that demand is to have a horse in the race, i.e. an active search marketing campaign. This becomes more important when you are the one generating the demand via your display campaigns. If you don't have a search campaign in place while you are running your display campaigns then you're just generating demand for your competitors to exploit, and they will.

The study also claims that 38% of online display advertising respondents learn about the brand for the first time during the initial display exposure. This is great news for those who believe that they can build their brand with onlie ads and an even greater reason to couple the display campaign with a search campaign. Why? Because those respondents wouldn't have any loyalty to your brand at the time of exposure, even though they are interested in your product or service. So if a significant percentage of them decide to search for your product or service instead of clicking on your ad your competitors will have an ideal opportunity to steal them away.

Whether or not you choose to believe the numbers, my gut tells me they are in range, the conclusions cannot be ignored. There can be no display without search and, for those who have unfamiliar brands, no search without display either. Read the full report and executive summary here.
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