Social networks and search benefit brands

Brands which combine official activity on social media services with paid-for search advertising typically enjoy a wide variety of benefits as a result, according to a new study by GroupM Search and comScore.

The Influenced: Social Media, Search and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption report was produced by the two firms in conjunction with M80, the social media agency.

It aimed to assess the interaction between consumers and brands on the web, with a focus on three specific forms of internet content.

These were paid-for search, social media relevant to a product category – such as consumer reviews or blog posts – and "influenced social media", defined as sites containing "distributed social marketing content of a brand's social media programme."

Consumers who use social media were found to be 1.7 times more likely to "search with the intention of making a list of brands or products to consider purchasing" than the average web user.

Some 50% of people who were exposed to both social media and paid-for listings also searched for broad category terms every day, compared with a mean score of 33% among "non-exposed searchers".

Moreover, clickthrough rates on search ads increased by 50% when netizens had consumed both “influenced social media” and paid-for listings.

Members of this demographic also sought out information for particular brands with almost three times the frequency of those who only saw paid-for ads on sites such as Google and Ask.

When this group entered brand-specific enquiries on such portals, their clickthrough rates on search ads reached 11.8%, compared with a norm of 4.5%.

These users typically spend a total of 170 minutes a day surfing the web, compared with an overall average of 65 minutes, and are also extremely regular visitors to search platforms.

Paid-search alone delivered a 23% uptick in consumer penetration – or the “measurement of consumers who might use a search term” – with regard to brand-related queries, the study added.

When people viewed social media relevant to a category and paid search, this figure rose by an extra 15%, with a combination of "influenced social media" and paid-for listings driving totals up by a further 42%.

Consumers who had been "exposed to a brand's social marketing campaign" were also 2.4 times more likely to click on an "organic" link leading to an advertiser's website than an average user seeing a paid-for search ad.

Chris Copeland, ceo of GroupM Search in the Americas, and the author of the report, said “media discovery, specifically a brand's owned and earned media, is as important to success as the paid media we handle every day."

Generating awareness and influencing consideration through using social media can also help boost preference, action and loyalty levels among consumers, he added.

Data sourced from GroupM Search; additional content by Warc staff, 08 October 2009

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