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New Study Demonstrates Facebook Advertising Improves Paid Search Performance

Published: December 9, 2013

Author: Todd Herrold

As social marketers, we can become so focused on maximizing the performance of our Facebook campaigns that we overlook how these campaigns impact the overall performance of our online marketing mix.  Indeed, there can be significant challenges related to tracking and attribution across media channels that complicate our analysis.  Marketers frequently ask themselves, “How do I distribute credit for conversions that include multiple touch points across media channels?” and “How do my search and social campaigns work together and influence one another?”
Having visibility into both search and social marketing programs along with the tracking and attribution systems necessary to measure performance across these channels, we at Kenshoo set out to answer some of these questions.  In particular, we wanted to understand how Facebook advertising impacts paid search campaign performance.
What We Did:
Working with a large, international retailer with more than 2,500 store locations in the United States, we set out to study the relationship between paid social and paid search advertising.  The research was funded in partnership with Facebook, Kenshoo collected and analyzed the data, and the advertiser paid for all media costs.
For the purposes of the study, we measured online conversions from the advertiser’s ecommerce site that were attributable to the advertiser’s paid search and/or social ad campaigns.  In some markets, consumers were exposed to both “Search + Facebook” ad campaigns that were focused on apparel and consumer electronics, while a control group in comparable markets was exposed to “Search Only” campaigns.  The campaigns ran for 3 weeks, and we analyzed performance data during the campaigns and for 4 weeks following the campaigns to account for latent conversion activity.
It’s important to note that this study does not look at aggregate performance metrics of Facebook and paid search campaigns but rather looks exclusively at the performance of the paid search campaigns during the study period, with and without the complementary Facebook campaigns.  On a related note, the Facebook advertising during the period generated significant, direct return and was deemed to be “very successful” by the advertiser irrespective of its cross-channel impact.
For more detailed information about the methodology and the results of the study, download the full report: Added Value: Facebook Advertising Boosts Paid Search Performance
What We Found:
The Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) on paid search campaigns for the Search + Facebook group was 30% higher than the Search Only group.  This provides strong evidence that Facebook advertising delivers additional benefit as a performance driver when run side-by-side with complementary search campaigns.
Other paid search Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) also showed strong positive improvement when run alongside Facebook campaigns.  More specifically, the study showed that paid search Average Order Value (AOV) was 24% higher in the presence of Facebook advertising. Click Through Rate (CTR) was 7% higher, and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) was 4.5% lower in the presence of Facebook ads.
The study indicates that when complementary paid search and Facebook campaigns are run together, there is a synergistic effect in which paid search performance improves across key metrics.   Consumers exposed to paid search and Facebook ads clicked more, bought more, and cost less to acquire than consumers exposed to search alone.
It is a bit cliché, but the study bears this out . . .
Facebook + Paid Search is a 1+1=3 formula for success.
So, now what?
Several key takeaways for marketers come out of this study.  First, marketers can see for themselves the importance of leveraging multiple channels to positively influence the consumer conversation throughout the journey from awareness to purchase to loyalty.  Consumers engaged effectively in search and social channels will drive more value for the brand.
Second, marketers should conduct more studies like this and really dig in to how search and social channels influence one another uniquely for their market segment and brand.
And lastly (you’ve heard me beat this drum before), marketers need to leverage technology and platforms that enable them to track, measure and attribute across touch points and channels.  Multi-touch Attribution (MTA) tools are critical requirements to understand the complexity of the customer journey and apply credit accurately to each interaction between the brand and the consumer.
Marketers who identify, understand and leverage the synergy between paid search and social for their brands will have a distinct competitive advantage.  You definitely want to be that guy!

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