Just How Important Are Upper-Funnel and Brand-Awareness Campaigns?

Person searching on the internet.
Paid Media
Dec 21, 2023
1 min read

Upper-Funnel Spend & Organic Branded Search Trends

The digital marketing world has long alluded to the impacts on other channels when upper-funnel and brand-awareness campaigns are cut or reduced. As we head to the close of 2023 and many brands are reevaluating budgets, the Backbone SEO and paid media teams felt it was timely to add some data points and color to what actually happens when upper-funnel advertising is reduced. To do so, we conducted a small study with seven clients, four of whom reduced upper-funnel spend September through November year-over-year (YoY), and three of whom increased upper-funnel spend September through November YoY.

Our findings were clear: every client that reduced upper-funnel advertising spend experienced a decrease in branded organic search clicks in Google Search Results Pages (SERPs), and ultimately saw less organic traffic.

We observed a 20.1% average, YoY decrease in branded* organic keyword clicks from September through November 2023 across clients who reduced top-of-the-funnel spend. The percentage decreases in clicks ranged from -7% to -32% across four websites. The average decrease in spend among this group was -43%.

Conversely, we observed a 55% average increase in branded organic keyword clicks in SERPs for client websites that increased upper-funnel advertising spend. The percentage increases in clicks ranged from +2% to +148% across three websites. Brands with existing upper-funnel spend increased budget by an average of +37% or launched new brand campaigns in 2023.

Graph showing organic branded click averages year over year

It’s important to note that all websites included in this study had improved keyword ranking position YoY or positions remained relatively flat. This means that the declines in branded organic keyword clicks were not a result of SEO strategy or the impacts of competitor SEO changes.

Considering this research, Backbone suggests investing in upper-funnel advertising to significantly boost branded organic search clicks and overall organic traffic. 

This is important to consider during peak retail periods, but also throughout the fiscal year.

Please direct any questions to Leah Fielding, SEO Director at Backbone, at leah.fielding@backbone.media.

*branded includes branded product keywords


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