GroupM Search and comScore announced today the results of the first study ever conducted by comScore looking at the relationship between social media exposure and search behaviors. Conducted in tandem with social media agency M80, the study, “The Influenced: Social Media, Search and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption,” reveals the dramatic correlation influenced discovery of brands through social media has with search behavior, including more lower-funnel searches and increased paid search click-through-rates (CTR).
“Every day consumers express their intent via search. Now, we better understand how that intent is established via social media and the interplay between the channels,” said Chris Copeland, GroupM Search – The Americas CEO. “There is a valuable audience for advertisers to focus on who are engaged with brands through social media and search. The study further validates our view that media discovery, specifically a brand’s owned and earned media, is as important to success as the paid media we handle every day. Generating upper-funnel awareness and influencing consideration through social media can produce better down-the-funnel performance with paid media, such as paid search.”
The research explored the correlation between social media exposure and search behavior over a three month period across different verticals, including automotive, consumer packaged goods and telecommunications. In addition to looking at total internet users, consumers were divided into three segments:
•Consumers exposed only to a brand’s paid search.
•Consumers exposed to social media relevant to a brand’s category: A blog, message board/forum, user review, social networking site (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn), Twitter/micro-blogging, or video-sharing site (e.g., YouTube, Google Video), as well as a brand’s social marketing program’s “target” sites, or sites which have the most natural potential to hold content about a brand
•Consumers exposed to influenced social media specific to a brand: Identified sites containing distributed social marketing content of a brand’s social media program.
Search behavior was broken into segments based on where queries fell among stages of the purchase funnel. This included upper-funnel terms expressing awareness and consideration (industry relevant terms, general product attributes) to lower-funnel terms expressing action and loyalty (campaign brand terms, brand product terms).
The study showed searchers who engage with social media, especially those exposed to a brand’s influenced social media, are far more likely to search for lower-funnel terms compared to consumers who do not engage with social media. Further, consumers exposed to a brand’s influenced social media and paid search programs are 2.8x more likely to search for that brand’s products compared to users who only saw paid search.
The study also showed a 50% CTR increase in paid search when consumers were exposed to influenced social media and paid search. This revealed consumers exposed to social media are more likely to click on a brand’s paid search ad compared to those exposed to the brand’s paid search alone. Among searchers using a brand’s product name in the query, the CTR increased from 4.5% to 11.8% when users were exposed to both influenced social media and paid search around a brand.
In organic search, consumers searching on brand product terms who have been exposed to a brand’s social marketing campaign are 2.4x more likely to click on organic links leading to the advertiser’s site than the average user seeing a brand’s paid search ad alone.
Surveying the intention of these segments, searchers who use social media are more engaged overall and more likely to be looking for places to buy and brands to consider. Consumers using social media are 1.7x more likely to search with the intention of making a list of brands or products to consider purchasing compared to those who do not use social media.