This is a really good article on Think with Google outlining some simple yet effective ways to understand how positioning is important when it comes to Search ads.

They discovered these insights to Search ads after running 96,000 simulations with 12,000 shoppers across 12 products to understand what makes brands — and their ads — stand out on a Search results page.1 and ultimately how these ads help shoppers make purchasing decisions.

The overarching principle couldn't be simpler: Be present where people are searching

Consumer preference can be swayed just by showing up as people are searching, which might sound obvious, but to isolate the impact Google simulated the search results when using identical ad copy for both the shopper’s favourite and their second favourite brand.

The effect they witnessed was significant. What they found was when shoppers in the study were searching for moisturisers, they introduced their second favourite brand into the Search results and it immediately captured 31% of ad clicks, despite ranking third on the page and appearing below their favourite brand.

The big takeaway: You don't have to appear at the top of the page to be considered — just being present can make a difference.

They also tested behavioural science principles to the Search ads, altering the ad copy of the brands to test the effectiveness of the different principles (also known as biases). By doing so, they were able to shift preference away from the shopper’s favourite brand. 

This was even when the shopper had never even heard of the brand they engaged with, as it was a fictional one for the purpose of the study.

Next big takeaway: When used intelligently and responsibly, behavioural science principles are powerful tools to win and defend consumer preference in this important part of the sales funnel.

Here's the thing.

For established brands this research shows how important it is to protecting brand investment in Search and being present. For challenger brands, it highlights that applying behavioural science principles to their Search ads can help level the playing field and by supercharging ad copy, its possible to optimise the return on investment.

Closing the gap between trigger and purchase is key, so whether a brand is well established, new to market, top of the page or not, there is a distinct opportunity to take advantage of Search capabilities.