The Full Picture of Paid Search & Its Impact on Total Site Performance

How launching paid search advertising increased cross-channel performance for a retail manufacturer

Historically, Google search has been referred to as “pull” media – serving ads or organic listings to users who are already searching for your products. This stands in contrast to “push” media, such as display and video advertising (including traditional media such as television broadcasting) that’s intended to create as of yet non-existent demand for advertisers’ products.

Recently, we collaborated with a manufacturer of high-end cookware to launch a paid search strategy with the goal of increasing first-party traffic and revenue, pulling consumers directly to the site rather than to third-party retailers. Paid search was the only advertising channel utilized, but we found as a clear side-effect a traffic increase in other channels. That is, text and shopping campaigns were likely creating new demand that ended up converting through other channels. Even for customers already familiar with the brand, it had the effect of raising awareness of the client’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) experience — i.e. pushing users to buy on site, where margins are better and the client maintains more control over the customer experience.

After launching paid search in August of 2020, we monitored site traffic and conversion, as well as overall search interest for the brand. As we reviewed that data, we found evidence of a broader, positive impact on brand awareness, direct site traffic, and on-site conversion in other channels, particularly direct and organic traffic. What we saw was a marked increase in new users accessing the site that rippled across paid, organic, and direct. In the three months after paid search’s launch we saw a 74% increase in new user site traffic overall. Direct traffic benefitted the most from the launch, accounting for a 42% boost.

New Site Users

DirectOrganic SearchPaid SearchReferralSocial3/20204/20205/20206/20207/20208/20209/202010/202011/202012/20201/202102,0004,0006,0008,00010,00012,00014,000Revenue

The benefits of paid search investment also showed up in conversion data. 

Site Revenue by Channel

DirectOrganic SearchPaid SearchReferralSocial7/20208/20209/202010/202011/202012/20201/2021$0.00$5,000.00$10,000.00$15,000.00$20,000.00$25,000.00$30,000.00$35,000.00$40,000.00$45,000.00$50,000.00Revenue

Key branded search queries have seen positive interest over time. For a key cookware term, January searches increased over 400% YoY, and February searches are up 200%. Another branded query increased over 750% in January and 667% in February YoY. This positive interest began to rise sharply after the launch of paid ads in August.

Branded Cookware Search Interest


It’s worth noting that changes in brand awareness can impact how users interact with a client’s brand, reflected in changes in the ways these users engage with both paid ads and organic listings. Not only can it improve click-thru-rate, but it may also increase organic traffic by raising the likelihood of catching the user’s eyes even in listing falling outside the prominent placement of paid search ads. 

For key branded terms we have observed this impact in key brand queries, where volume has increase significantly year-over-year, with the sharpest increases corresponding to heavier investment periods such as Q4.

Branded Term Search Interest


While the positive impact of paid search investment on other marketing channels may be most clearly observed on a new D2C website, it’s worth considering that there’s likely an analogous impact even for mature D2C websites and even third-party retailers – even if this is less easily discerned in the data. Perhaps the most obvious is remarketing campaigns; if an advertiser drastically pulls back its paid search investment, it may not be long before remarketing performance starts to slow as audience lists stagnate.

It’s crucial to meet a client’s last-click efficiency goals in paid search, but it’s worth remembering that isn’t the full-extent of the benefits associated with paid search investment.

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