Measuring the Success of Branding in Paid Search

Paid search is generally seen as a direct response play in marketing– and, for good reason. Quite often, in this world of “last-click attribution”, consumers see display, television, or social media ads, and resort to Google to find the site they are looking for. In these often-seen occurrences, paid search wins the credit for the conversion, despite it not necessarily being the driving-force behind a consumer’s action.

I have worked with many clients, however, that simply aren’t in marketing for a specific action. More or less, they are simply trying to get their name out there, promoting a “resurrected” image, or even a new product not available for sale directly through the client’s website. Branding in paid search can be big business, both for you, and your advertiser.

Still, as anyone in marketing will tell you, your client won’t be satisfied without some sort of reporting to go along with the media dollars they are spending in search. The question becomes, then, how do you really measure the success of branding in paid search??

Hopefully, these  metrics will help you to resolve that conundrum.

Campaign Metrics

While this may not come as a surprise, there are some solid measurements for success in branding campaigns right there in your AdWords interface. Despite not looking for a specific conversion goal, a few metrics that can be focused on in a brand campaign include:

  • Click-Thru Rate
  • Avg. Position
  • Reach & Frequency

While I’m sure most are familiar with the first two, the third one might be new to you, so let me explain a bit.

Under the ‘Dimensions’ tab, select “Reach & Frequency” in the “View” drop-down. I like to view this by month, since it gives you more data to work with.

If you’re running a branded paid search campaign, optimally, you would like to be reaching as many unique users as possible. You also want to control frequency– while it’s good to show the same person a few of your ads, you don’t want to be spending money on them if they’ve already clicked through. Adjusting your frequency maximum in the “Settings” tab can help to manage this.






Site Metrics

The biggest weapon in my reporting arsenal when it comes to branding in paid search are on-site metrics. If you have access to a client’s Google Analytics account, this is a perfect method for justifying brand dollars. While there are numerous measurements for how successful your paid search traffic is, the most commonly used in my reporting are:

  • Bounce Rate
  • Time on Site
  • New Visitors
  • Avg. Pages Viewed

With all campaigns, I like to get a benchmark of these figures after the first 30 days of paid activity, and, hopefully, show improvement over time. Clients generally love to see this data, and even better, they generally think very highly of you for not only increasing on-site performance, but for thinking of that tactic in the first place.

If you’re reading this, how have you measured branding in paid search performance in the past, especially if there are no real conversion metrics to speak of?