From the beginning, paid search has primarily been a tool for direct response marketing, with the awareness and brand recognition a load carried heavily by the flashier, more visually-oriented channels such as display and video. When it comes to branded search results, advertisers had little they could do to differentiate themselves from competitors and resellers in the paid results. Then came Rich Ads In Search (RAIS) on Yahoo and Bing for branded and trademarked keywords.
RAIS delivers brand recognition and awareness features once only available in display ads in the same package as keyword-triggered search ads, by allowing advertisers to include a small company logo and an 80pxX60px image or video. The result is not only a more eye catching and differentiating ad but also a vehicle to build awareness about a product before a user clicks through to your site.
We started testing RAIS with long-time client, home warranty provider American Home Shield [include link to AHS.com] to see how they impacted CTR on branded search terms and improved visibility of the brand in results. As the Director of Digital Strategy and Marketing at AHS, Cary McGuckin, put it, “We jumped at the opportunity to test this when Yahoo presented RAIS as last year as a way to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”
The ads included a brief video about the benefits of a home warranty. As you can see from the images below the visual results are apparent, helping AHS’s ads be more visible among the competitors and resellers bidding on the branded keywords.
The click-through-rate results from Q4 2013 were even more compelling. CTR from the RAIS campaigns were 46.6% higher than the branded campaigns with standard ads. CPC’s were slightly more expensive on the RAIS ads, 9.3% higher. McGucken commented, “We were naturally expecting to see a lift, but the results were even better than we anticipated.”
While RAIS may seem like one of the best things to happen to Bing/Yahoo paid search since sliced bread, there are a few important things to consider. Number one, RAIS is not guaranteed to show on every branded impression. During our tests, the RAIS features only showed on 17% of all branded impressions. You should continue to run and optimize your branded campaigns in tandem with the RAIS campaigns. Also, while you can expect higher CPC’s on the RAIS campaigns, the CTR bump, at least in our case, made the investment worth it.
In the end, Rich Ads In Search presents an opportunity for your brand to fully own the results for your branded results and for users to interact.