According to a study conducted by online travel agency Travelocity, brand names work better as search marketing keywords than non-branded terms.

Jeffrey Glueck, Chief Marketing Officer at Travelocity, offered this advice while speaking at the IAB’s Performance Marketing Forum this week in Chicago.

Glueck bases his assertion on Travelocity’s paid search stats – 96% of Travelocity’s bookings which came via paid search were from ads using branded keywords.

Also, just 2% of paid-search conversions occurred when a searcher originally clicked on a non-branded term, only to click and convert on a branded term later.

Glueck revealed other stats on Travelocity’s paid search traffic:

  • 65% of visitors from paid search to Travelocity’s site only interacted with paid search once and used a single keyword.
  • Another 27% of paid search visitors used paid search multiple times, but they used the same keyword repeatedly.
  • Only 8% of paid search users used multiple times searches with different terms.

Glueck told attendees at the conference in Chicago that it would be a ‘profound mistake by all of us to think we’ve figured out how to measure ROI on search. We’re in stage one.’

Research carried out last year by search marketing firms 360i and SearchIgnite reached different conclusions than suggested by Jeffrey Glueck.

The survey found that while branded search terms offer the highest conversion rates, non-branded terms, when used properly, can have a significant impact on the outcome of a paid search marketing campaign.

In the study 25% of conversions occurred from users who clicked more than one ad. The highest conversion rate, of 9.3%, occurred when the first and last click in a user’s search were both on brand terms.

However, the conversion rate was almost as high when the first click was on a non-brand term and the last click was on a brand term, at 8.73%.

This, and other research, suggests that searchers tend to click on generic, non-brand specific terms earlier in the search process, before moving onto brand terms when they are nearer to a purchase.

This suggests that non-brand search terms are useful to search marketers, enabling them to drive searchers toward brand terms later in the purchase process.