How online branding drives search, and vice versa

Jenny Kirby

Search marketing has long been accepted as one of the most effective channels for direct response campaigns. But the relationship between online branding and search remains a hotly contested area.

Marketers are asking:

  • Does search drive brand awareness and consideration?
  • Does brand activity drive search activity?

According to a recent report by Hitwise, the research group, 76% of the top 2,000 UK search queries were navigational, i.e. they were search terms which included brand names. It makes sense to conclude therefore that something must be driving online search demand for these brands. But what?

Everything potentially drives searches: offline television and radio advertising, print campaigns and posters as well as online branding. Search provides a response mechanic for anything to which consumers do not react immediately. It is a go-to tool.

In its 2007 study Research Online Buy Offline, Yahoo! found that consumers who were exposed to both display and search advertising engaged with a website to a greater degree and consumed more content than those exposed to either display alone or to search alone. This suggested that display advertising drove more interested users to the site through a search engine.