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Display Ads Influence Search

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NEW YORK Display ad campaigns greatly increase clicks on search listings, according to a new study.

Yahoo and online financial services provider Harrisdirect tested the effects of a display ad campaign run across the Yahoo network on search behavior. The study found users shown Harrisdirect display ads conducted 61 percent more searches relating to financial services. Those shown display ads also clicked on 249 percent more paid search listings and 139 percent more Harrisdirect search listings, both paid and unpaid.

"What excited me about this was the ability to see the interaction between banner or display ads and search," said Eric Frenchman, vice president of online advertising at Harrisdirect.

The Yahoo study had a pool of 2 million users, of which half saw Harrisdirect display ads over a three-week period. Yahoo then tracked the search behavior for the users in the sample.

"This is really the step in what will be a longer journey in understanding the interactivity between these two forms of interactive advertising," said Richard Kosinski, finance category development officer at Yahoo. The study did not examine if the group exposed to display ads were more likely to convert after clicking on search results, for example.

Search engines have made the first steps of melding search and display advertising. MSN's new online ad platform, MSN adCenter, plans to allow marketers to manage search and display advertising from a single platform. Google has moved in this direction by letting advertisers bid on display and search ads in a single auction. Yahoo executives have said they hope to make search and display advertising easier to buy together.