Paying for exposure

Recently I saw a blog post about natural links compared with paid links when searching for something in Google. You know paid links? How you typically scroll through the first several links because you may not trust them as they aren’t as organic as the results below that?

Women's Shoes Search 1
First sighting of results
Women's Shoes Search 2
After scrolling past paid ads

This blog insinuated that they thought it was a waste of money for companies to be paying for these spots when people aren’t using them. But I disagree, and want to talk about why that is.

Firstly, I believe most of the ads are run on a paid per click basis. A company will not be paying money just for running them, they will pay money every time an individual clicks into their website. Which I think is why this is such a great strategy.

You can have your brand sitting at the top of a Google page. It will be the first of four brands a potential consumer will see. They click into your ad, great! Your investment is working, you are getting website visits in exchange for the paid ad just like you wanted.

Somebody doesn’t click? Still no worries. Your brand exposure is huge right now. Scrolling through the top ads, a person may unknowingly or knowingly still take into consideration the brands they are seeing. Next time they’re thinking about consuming a certain category of topic, your brand may pop into mind and become a competitor for choice.

I believe it’s a win -win for companies, your paid ad either works the way it is intended or you get essentially free brand awareness amongst people wanting to purchase your category of products.

Despite not working in the way it is intended, do you agree that paid ads can bring larger amounts of brand awareness to a company? Or like the original poster, think that it works negatively against the brand?

 

**EDIT**: After witnessing some of my friends googling for products or services, I have noticed a pattern. All of my non-marketing minded friends, happily click on the sponsored ads. Where as all of my friends who have marketing knowledge do not. As marketing students, of course we are aware about sponsored ads compared with organic results, but we are a smaller majority than the amount of people who are not aware. And that is who marketers would be targeting with this process.

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3 comments

  1. Interesting thoughts! I actually agree with you and think that even if you don’t click on the paid links, you still read them and their name – therefore, you’re essentially being exposed to them. So even if you don’t physically click on their link, you end up becoming more familiar and aware of that certain brand, which, with time, will probably lead you to clicking on them. That’s also really funny how you point out that marketing students don’t really click on the paid links, where as most people that don’t study it do…

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  2. I agree with you when I comes to paid search – certainly a win-win for companies. I tend to skip the paid ads but then if I cant find what I want organically I tend to scroll back up to what I know is relevant to my search, even if it is paid. What are your thoughts on the impact of SEO (Search engine optimisation)? Do you think paid search is smarter form of investment?

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  3. I think you need a combination of both to be successful. Your page definitely needs to be relevant which will increase your SEO, but if you are in a broad market you may struggle to be one of the first SEO posts. This is where it is beneficial to have paid ads as well. People may prefer SEO, but if it doesn’t return what they are looking for they are highly likely to scroll back up to the paid ads. It’s a fine line, and I think it depends on what market you’re in as to whether you invest more into one form than the other.

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