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Proving It Out: How Upper Funnel Tactics Boost Search ROI

21 Feb 2024 Zafreen Zerilli

in Digital, Strategy, Trending

At Stella Rising, we constantly turn to data science to measure the impact of upper funnel tactics such as video. Our media plans are backed by research and advanced analytic disciplines to set forth business goals and hold ourselves accountable to those objectives. Channels never operate in isolation; however, that can be difficult to prove—especially with the inherent biases of last click attribution. In a progressively cookie-free world, traditional attribution modeling, rules based or even data driven, has become a less reliable means of understanding incrementality and contribution. As a consequence, so much of the story is left out.

At Stella, we leverage modelling techniques that are not reliant on cookie data to determine unbiased media channel contributions to a hard KPI, like sales. With rigorous stat testing, we are confident that our findings are actionable and projectable. A recent working example with a client proved illuminating—and directly answered a specific question on this topic that we receive a lot: can you prove to me that our upper funnel tactics, like video, not only drive revenue but also have a direct correlation on lower funnel paid channels, like search?



Our marketing mix model was able to isolate and measure video’s impact. Video’s ROI was 40% higher than the client’s total media ROI and proved to be profitable. However, in 2023, our client took a bold step: they essentially paused all upper funnel investments—a serious pivot from their historical strategy—to focus on lower funnel tactics. This shift in strategy for 2023 presented an opportunity to observe and measure the direct impact of the loss of video on paid search's effectiveness and ROI. After normalizing the data for a clear comparison, we were able to assess changes in lower funnel tactic performance such as search. It was important for us to understand the halo impact of channel elimination, outside of its own generated revenue. Did we lose revenue from a synergetic impact?



Paid search faltered in the absence of video investment. With video fully integrated into the marketing mix, search ROI was 7% higher than without it. We also determined that this lift grows with larger investment in video. Therefore, the lift is correlated with the brand’s investment in video. That represents not just a marginal improvement, but shows how—and how much, in that instance—upper funnel investment amplifies search marketing’s efficiency and profitability.



Video, a powerful upper funnel tool connects with consumers of all ages and delivers truly efficient reach at scale. Via a revenue KPI, we showed that when users are ready to take action, the awareness sparked by video makes them more likely to use search to connect with a brand, resulting in higher conversion rates and a more efficient use of marketing budget.



If your brand seeks to understand and leverage the full potential of your marketing mix, connect with us.

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