Why do Brands Advertise Even if They are in Top of Search Pages?

Since the ads are really the first results people see – they come before the search results. Apple likely prefers that people buy their products directly from them, rather than from a reseller who’s also using search engine ads.

  1. To make sure no competitor can show an ad when someone searches for you.

  2. You have more control over the ads. You can decide what the user is shown, which is not so when they are displayed as the top result.

  3. You will get more clicks if your name pops up in the ad and the search result. And apparently, it’s super cheap to put ads that are completely relevant. So, why not?

Edit: It’s not super cheap.

You buy ads in Google search based on keywords, and then you select how much you’d be willing to pay for each click on your ad. This is your bid. Whoever bids the most takes top spot (roughly – there are some other factors Google takes into account, like whether your site is a bit spammy or loads really slowly).

If you Google “buy hammock”, Amazon is the first “organic” (non-paid) result, but Amazon isn’t the first paid result. This means they’ll lose some of that sweet, sweet hammock traffic to competitors, despite all the work they’ve put into topping the organic results.

In most industries, this goes one step further: companies buy ads for their own brand names. If you Google “Amazon” the top result is being paid for…by Amazon. There are two reasons they would do this.

First, if they don’t bid on the keyword “Amazon”, a competitor will, and Amazon could lose traffic for searches for their particular brand to a competitor. Even if it’s only a small amount of traffic, no business wants to be doing that.

It’s not a huge loss for them to buy that ad space, either. Most businesses, knowing that Amazon will bid on their brand keyword, will know they have no chance of competing for that term, so they won’t bother. This lowers the competition, which makes the keyword cheaper. So really Amazon just needs to be there, bidding something, just to stave off competitors trying to skim off little bits of traffic that’s sort of ‘rightfully theirs’.

Secondly, when you make your ad for Google search, you get a lot more control of it than you do over your website’s organic listing. You can choose exactly what text is displayed and choose with specific webpages are linked to. (you can do this to an extent for your organic listings using structured data, but ultimately it’s up to the search engine what users see in your organic listings.)

The paid search listing for Amazon (at least, the one I see) includes links to Alexa, and a link to ‘start your free Amazon prime trial’. By using a paid ad, Amazon can direct me to the specific parts of the site that are the most profitable and strategically important for the business.

Similarly, you can also target very specific audiences with paid listings, but you can’t control these in organic. If your analytics data has shown you that people tend to start their Amazon trials in the evening, usually around 7pm, you can increase your bid at that time.

Or you can create different ads for different audiences. If young people buy jelly beans rather than hammocks (the fools), you can create an ad for jelly beans and increase your bid for the ad space when someone under 35 is searching for jelly beans. Then you create a second ad about hammocks and increase your bid when someone over 45 is looking at it.

In short, the second reason Amazon and Apple might want to have paid ads despite performing so strongly is that paid ads give your more control over who sees your brand and what it is they see.

For most businesses, this second reason is a bit of a luxury. Showing paid ads just to direct your website users to a specific part of the site isn’t really viable when you have a small budget, but for Amazon and Apple, who have silly super-powered paid marketing budgets, it’s worth the investment.

Hi all, UX designer here. This is a pretty well studied phenomenon in web design called “banner blindness”. It is a learned behaviour to simply ignore ads and even ignore any content that looks like ads – even when its not an ad.

It’s not just you, it quite simply most people that do this because we’ve learned that the ads results usually don’t correspond the best with what we actually want to find.

You can read more about this here: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/banner-blindness-old-and-new-findings/

The more you know etc.

Have a good day.

Okay, follow-up question: Do the ads we ignore influence our browsing habits and/or purchasing decisions anyway, affecting us subconsciously?

Pretty sure, but hard to prove a negative, there has never been any evidence of “subliminal” influence actually working. In other words, you aren’t affected by things you don’t actually pay attention to. Sometimes we like to think we don’t pay attention to something (like other people’s judgments) but we really do, but in the case of banner blindess, we really don’t pay attention to them.

I think the point you’re trying to make is correct, but this statement goes a little too far. E.g., in one study, participants wore headphones that played a different word in each ear. They were told to attend to one ear. They would reliably correctly report the word they heard in the ear they were attending to, and could not report what word was played in the other ear. The interesting bit is that after being played the words, they were shown an ambiguous sentence (e.g., “she threw a stone at the bank”). Their interpretation of the sentence correlated to which interpretation was related to the unattended word. So if the word they didn’t attend to was “money” or something, they would interpret “bank” to mean ‘financial institution,’ even though they had no awareness of hearing the work “money.”

All that is just to say that you can be affected by things you don’t pay attention to, but probably not to the extent that subliminal advertising works, like you said.

Yeah but the really high cost-per-clicks are for queries like “buy dick pills”, because even if your result is right on top the CTR will still be relatively low

Amazon buying ads for the “amazon” query is gonna have an insanely high CTR (and therefore low cost per click) compared to cialis on “buy dick pills”

Prices are set via a bidding process so it’s based on demand. “Mesothelioma” is $40 per click because an organic click-through is an extremely valuable lead for an injury / class action lawyer.

Well, based on the lawyer one, $40 a time seems expensive. So I was thinking maybe zero in on some kind of annoying law firm that cold calls people who’ve been in an accident. But then, the smaller the firm, the more asshole-ish it becomes to target them.

A poorly-formed prank, but still one that briefly crossed my mind nonetheless.

Could work against scammers though, if you had a bot doing it. Some ‘tech support’ scammers put up ads on common Google searches, and they are the scum of the earth, so I’d love to screw them over. I’m sure there are enough safeguards in place though that they wouldn’t really lose out (not least, I’m sure they have a maximum amount they’ll pay per day/month before pulling the ad).

That’s true. A bot would get banned by Google pretty quickly but there’s likely a way to get around that.

Edit: however, I don’t know how these things work, but there might be a way for them to show Google that there’s an abnormal number of clicks not leading to usage of their services in a short amount of time and get Google to waive some of the charge.

To add to what the other guy said, the bidding varies wildly depending on the add words. For instance, a small business bidding on their company name will be relatively cheap (if its unique) where as an industry term may be much much more per click.

For instance the company I work for is only a few dollars for the company name, but one of our key terms for leads goes from $16-$24 a click. Hundreds of dollars a day just to get those sweet sweet inquiries. That’s one of the reasons sales can be so competitive and bonus driven, without converting those leads the company in question is just throwing money at the wall. Fine for the mega corps but deadly for small businesses.

This only applies to the terms which are clearly labeled as adds. The organic search results after that are based on completely different criteria.

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