Study: Combine Search, Display Ads to Boost Conversion

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Marketers who use both display and search advertising convert at a rate 22 percent higher than those using search alone, according to a study released July 21.

The Atlas Institute conducted "The Combined Impact of Search and Display" study. The digital marketing technologies provider analyzed 11 advertisers who track display media and organic search clicks through a third-party ad server.

"On average, 44 percent of search users are also being shown display ads from the same advertiser, which means that there is significant enough overlap that advertisers should be measuring this effect," said Esco Strong, author of the Atlas report. "The lift of conversion rates differed greatly across advertisers, suggesting that the synergy between these channels is highly variable, depending on the advertiser and the campaign."

The challenge is measuring the synergy at an actionable level, Mr. Strong said. This requires measuring the synergy between specific display placements and specific keywords. This type of analysis is difficult because it requires data scale and analytic expertise.

Based on the study, Atlas offers these recommendations to advertisers:

· Measure the synergistic effect between your search and display campaigns. The research shows that users exposed to both channels have a higher probability to convert than users exposed to search alone. Identifying which sites and keywords produce this effect opens a new strategic optimization opportunity. For example, increased search click-to-conversion rates seen for display and search together let advertisers pay higher CPCs and bid to position their keywords higher while maintaining the same return on ad spend.

· Buy display media that maximize reach to users who have clicked on your sponsored listings. Third-party ad serving data let advertisers measure the overlap across channels, adding another dimension to display media buying criteria.

· To increase conversion rates, maximize the reach of your campaigns and reduce frequency. This was an important lesson from optimal frequency research, and the same rule of thumb applies when optimizing the synergy between search and display. Advertisers can measure where their display ads hit diminishing returns and should minimize waste via frequency caps and budget adjustments.

· Advertisers should track these media centrally so that cross-channel impact can be measured and optimized. Advertisers lose sight of value and optimization capabilities when measuring search, display, rich media and sponsorships through separate reporting silos.

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