With 45% of shopping journeys containing a mobile action1 and people switching devices and channels at will, paid search alone is no longer the most effective method for brands to get discovered or grow within their category. Marketers now know that they need to plan campaigns across digital channels to match where people are spending their time.
To help marketers plan across channels, the Facebook Marketing Science team explored how exposure to Facebook ads can influence people’s search behavior and impact search campaign performance across mobile and desktop. Read on for topline findings from that research and download the white paper for an expanded discussion of our analysis, vertical case studies and what it all means for marketers.
We conducted a meta-analysis of 23 conversion lift studies based on US campaigns that ran from July to September 2015. These campaigns represented advertisers in the Ecommerce, Retail, Automotive, Travel, Financial Services, Education, Technology and Telecommunications verticals. Diving more deeply into cross-channel performance, we extended the analysis to 3 Automotive campaigns that ran between Q4 2014 and Q3 2015. This work builds on past research on the impact of Facebook on paid-search performance for campaigns within the Financial Services and Retail verticals.Mobile-heavy Facebook ads make search work harder
The research showed that exposure to Facebook ads, which ran heavily on mobile, influenced people’s search behavior. Through our meta-analysis of 23 US studies, we saw that roughly a quarter of the campaigns showed a statistically significant lift in search referral traffic. In addition to higher volume and more efficient traffic, we also saw an increase in lower-funnel conversions. Campaigns from small businesses had the greatest variance in lift, which may be due to their relatively low volume of natural conversions.
Further, we saw search efficiencies arise from a significant shift in search behavior. People exposed to Facebook ads were significantly more likely to search for more cost-effective branded keywords and, in some cases, less likely to search for more expensive unbranded keywords. Early findings also indicate that efficiency gains can be seen on the search side at higher Facebook paid media weight levels up until a certain point.
People who saw Facebook ads were more likely to search and click through to an advertiser’s website, with campaigns experiencing an average 6.3% lift in mobile search traffic compared to an average .9% lift on desktop. Our research explores factors that may have contributed to this greater lift in unique mobile search.
Understanding the M-Factor: Mobile and desktop comparison*
* Based on 17 campaigns with sufficient device type data within the meta-analysis of the 23 campaigns
“Facebook significantly increases … mobile engagement with our brands. [This] in turn drives more awareness and search [traffic], as we saw in this study. … Customers are consistently moving from mobile to desktop (and vice versa), and [with] more studies like this and as attribution advances, the better we will understand the customer journey.” – James Cooley, Partner, Group Director Search & Social, Mindshare NA
Through a deeper custom campaign analysis of a smaller set of advertisers within the Automotive (3), Financial Services (1) and Retail (2) verticals, we found that Facebook paid media caused statistically significant lift in the lower-funnel KPIs important to these advertisers, including online sales. Within the Retail case studies a majority of the sales lift came from increased basket size. It seems people were comfortable spending more when also exposed to Facebook paid media. As a result, an increase in conversion volume from those arriving via search was observed in these early results.
“Facebook and paid search have proven a winning combination for increasing conversions in paid search, and this research shows that those effects extend beyond online sales into other areas. Facebook plays a key role in increasing consumer interest in store visits and boosts order frequency and value, all of which play a role in building long-term brand loyalty.” – Viji Davis, CMO, Resolution Media
What it means for marketers
As search marketers begin to take ownership of the mobile channel, it becomes important to understand how mobile discovery drives search intent across devices. Through our analysis, we have found that cross-channel campaigns that include search and Facebook create complementary effects on marketers’ campaign objectives.
Coordinate planning across channels: Coordinate the timing, creative and copy between both search and other digital marketing channels. Aligning your campaigns across search and Facebook can create an opportunity to encourage people to search for brand-related keywords, drive traffic and deliver against lower-funnel business objectives.
Measure holistically: As people are spending more time on mobile, marketers could benefit from measuring not only the cross-channel effect across search and Facebook but also across mobile and desktop. People-based measurement allows marketers to see these cross-device effects clearly. Without it, marketers using third-party models could miss the mobile or cross-device effects and so a multiplier to calibrate results should be considered.
Test and evaluate budget re-allocation: Varying budgets on digital marketing channels like Facebook could help drive consumer discovery and ultimately search. Different media weights on Facebook may drive greater returns on search, as shown with the Experian case study.