In the summer of 2018 our agency started working with a client that offers a cloud-based software that cleans CRM data, specifically for one platform. This client had almost zero online brand awareness. To make matters worse, the existing list of targeted keywords mostly had mentions of another brand, the CRM provider (not our client), which made getting through the approval process difficult. 


To compound matters, our client was offering a product that users most likely didn’t even know existed and offered a solution to a problem potential customers never realized was fixable.


So here we are with a client that nobody knew about, and a limited list of non-branded keywords we could target.  Fortunately we were able to get approval from the CRM brand to use their brand name in ad copy, but randomly seeing disapproval notices was not uncommon.

Brand awareness was clearly an area we needed to improve.  And we needed a strategy that would allow us to spend a minimal amount while also getting maximum traffic.  


That’s why we looked at the Display and Video networks.  Compared to the Search network Average CPCs are lower, available Impressions and Frequency are higher, and different targeting options like Audience and Topic are available.  


This gave us the ability to target lots of users multiple times based on their activity and interests (more top of the funnel), and use image and video content to grab their attention.

One expectation that needs to be set with this strategy is that it’s more of a long game.  In order for users to remember and recall the brand it will take multiple ad impressions, with the goal being to be top of mind when that user thinks of the product or service or industry/market later.


Simply put, it’s going to take some time to build awareness when starting with none.


The Marketing Rule of 7 states that a prospect needs to “hear” the advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service.  


With this rule in mind we can use the Display and Video networks to get our ads in front of interested users multiple (more than 7) times, and at a cost more affordable than on the Search network.


Is it possible to take branded search keywords from (literally) zero to a hero, a top performing part of the account?

The account’s performance in 2018 centered around the Display network, targeting Affinity, In-Market, and Remarketing (we used an ‘All Users’ audience to retarget the maximum number of users) Audiences, and websites based off of Topics.  


The targeted search keywords were all non-branded and most contained the CRM company’s brand.  There were zero branded search queries so the branded campaign did not have enough impressions to show ads.


2019 was a continued trend from the year before.  There was an increased use of Audience and Topic targeting on the Display network with additional ad spend, and these campaigns continued to have the highest number of conversions in the account.


However branded search continued to bring zero traffic and zero impressions.  There was still no real branded search traffic to target.

In 2020 we saw a lot of the same performance, but the Remarketing audience was beginning to be the highest spending area of the account, with an audience that had grown significantly.  


This year Topic targeting on the Display network had the most conversions, Remarketing audiences on the Display network had the highest cost, and there was still no branded search to target.

But during the second half of 2020 and into the start of 2021 we began to see branded search queries regularly in the Search Term report.  Branded search campaigns targeting the US, UK, and other parts of the world began driving cost and conversions in the account.


Display campaigns still recorded similar traffic and conversions as previous years, and the addition of branded search performance helped the account top previous highs in conversions and traffic.

We were also seeing a large majority of our highest quality conversions coming from branded search campaigns.  Our client offers a free trial to start the conversion funnel, and we use offline conversion tracking to follow the entire journey.


This was an area where we could separate conversion performance between the different ad networks.  We were seeing similar conversion numbers from Display, Video, and Search networks when it came to the free trial conversion.


However, branded search consistently provided leads that would complete the conversion funnel, paying to activate an account after the free trial was complete.  


And more times than not we were seeing conversions from the Display and Video networks not completing the conversion funnel, leaving the platform once payment was required.


We were now able to conclude that the highest quality traffic, and most likely to complete the conversion funnel, was coming from branded search.  


We also could draw a parallel between our efforts to build brand awareness through image and video ads on the Display and Video networks, and the increase in search queries and eventual branded search performance.

This year we have seen similar performance to 2021, just better.  Branded search traffic and conversions have been up almost 30% and our client just reported their best month in company history in March.


We have applied budget increases over the past year and have seen performance scale appropriately.  The plan is to continue to grow brand awareness with increased offerings and ad spend, allowing us to gain a bigger share and generate more branded traffic.