Even if consumers are not actually clicking on paid search ads, they are still having an impact on brand awareness, according to a US based study sponsored by Yahoo.

The research, carried out by comScore on behalf of Publicis Group and Yahoo, looked at the habits of more than 6,000 web users, finding that brands generated 160% more awareness than they would have done if consumers were not exposed to their paid search ads.

The study was restricted to consumer packaged goods such as food and beauty products, a sector which typically spends less on paid search ads than others. Yahoo has an interest in encouraging brands like Coca Cola and Mars to increase their paid search spending.

Consumer packaged goods firms only accounted for 2% of total search ad spending in the US last year, according to figures from eMarketer.

The positioning of search advertising also has an influence on brand awareness – the study found that consumers were 20% more likely to have a positive perception of a brand in the top paid search slot and would be 30% more likely to purchase a product.

The study follows similar research carried out last year which found widespread use of search engines for packaged goods categories. A further study is being carried out to assess the impact of paid search ads on purchases of these goods made offline.