The Strategic Value of Deep Linking in Paid Search Ad Units (RAIS & Sitelinks)


Posted by Steve Durisin, Account Manager

Recently, both Yahoo! and Google have released beta paid search ad units that feature new opportunities to engage users with deep site links and supplementary content within the ad.  These opportunities include Yahoo! Rich Ads in Search (RAIS) and Google Paid Sitelinks, which are somewhat similar to Google organic Sitelinks.

Because we live in a search-centric world, it’s increasingly important for advertisers to participate in the conversation taking place on the SERP and be highly visible to consumers searching for their brand/products.  By increasing and even dominating presence on-screen, advertisers can gain more control over their message to consumers.  Both Yahoo! RAIS and Google Sitelinks provide an opportunity for advertisers to gain more real estate on the SERP and encourage user interaction.  RAIS and Sitelinks are useful for both retailers and brand advertisers for:

  • Product launches
  • Brand building and awareness campaigns
  • Supporting integrated offline (and online) media executions
  • Supporting undeveloped or underutilized products or site pages
  • Integrating SEO efforts by supporting site pages or products which have had difficulty achieving high organic positioning

Yahoo! RAIS

Yahoo! RAIS provides a unique opportunity for advertisers to drop users searching for brand terms deep into the advertiser’s Web site.  RAIS also allows advertisers to include imbedded video and forms (store locators, site search, etc.) within the paid search ad.  Video units provide a unique opportunity to showcase and engage users with a particular product or service relevant to the brand.  Best practices for video execution include keeping the video engaging, short and including a call to action.  By utilizing these best practices for a consumer electronics retailer, Performics executed the highest percentage of view to completion (consumers viewing the entire video) across RAIS.

RAIS also allows advertisers to dominate the search results page (SERP), thus increasing share against competitors.  The RAIS ad unit occupies the coveted premium positions and forces competitors to the right rail.  The ad unit also expands when the video is clicked, taking up the majority of space above the fold.  This increased visibility can have a tremendous impact on click-through rates (CTRs).  For instance, Performics—using RAIS for a consumer electronics retailer—achieved CTR increases of 100+% on RAIS keywords compared to keywords not using RAIS in a 30-day comparison.

Google Paid Sitelinks

Google’s paid Sitelinks allow advertisers to specify additional links on paid ads, much like in the organic listings.  Advertisers can specify the number of links they want to include below the paid search ad.  However, paid Sitelinks only appear when the ad commands a top Quality Score and appears in position 1.  Because of the Quality Score and position necessity, paid Sitelinks prove useful for branded terms.  But Sitelinks can also provide an opportunity for generic keywords where the advertiser seeks to gain share through aggressive branding strategies.

Sitelinks also help in customer acquisition.  Performics has seen a 28% increase in response rates for a consumer electronics retailer client since the introduction of Sitelinks.  Initial analysis shows that the first Sitelink generates the highest response rate.  This suggests that the advertiser may want to assign the first link to the highest value product or page.

Advertisers should test Yahoo! RAIS and Google Sitelinks as part of their 2010 paid search marketing strategy.


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