Top Spots in Search and Paid Listings Prove Key for Branding

December 10, 2007

There is significant correlation between brands’ appearing in the top organic search and sponsored placements and consumer brand affinity, recall and purchase intent, according to results from a Google-sponsored eye-tracking study published in a whitepaper. 

The study by eye-tracking firm Enquiro sought to determine how the placement of search listings and sponsored search ads affect consumer brand perceptions.

Using Honda as a test brand and “fuel-efficiency” as a brand attribute, the study focused on consumers early in the purchase process who had not yet selected a particular car model.

Among the key findings of the study:

  • Lift in brand affinity: Online consumers who saw Honda in the top ad placement and the top organic search result were 16% more likely to think of Honda as a fuel efficient car than when the automaker’s brand didn’t appear on the page at all.


  • Lift in brand recall: Online consumers were 42% more likely to recall Honda if the company appeared in both the top ad placement and the top organic search result, rather than just the top organic listing.
  • Lift in purchase intent: When Honda was featured in both the top ad and top organic listings, purchase intent for Honda increased 8%. However, other automaker brands absent from the page suffered a significant decrease in purchase intent – 16%.


Additional insights are available from the Enquiro whitepaper, “The Brand Lift of Search” (reg. required).

About the study: Using Honda as a test brand, the study sought to quantify the branding impact of differing Honda listing placements on the search results page. The experiment was conducted using subjects 25 years and older who were considering the purchase of a new car within the next year. Users performed a search for “fuel efficient car” and the search results appeared in five different variations: a Honda-branded listing in top ad position only, top organic position only, both the top organic and ad positions, side ad position only, and not at all (control group). Enquiro measured eye fixation on the Google page and also surveyed participants to evaluate the search experience’s branding effect on each of the five consumer test groups.

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