Search engine text ads outperform most banner ads, even when users aren't clicking, according to a recent IAB study.

The study, sponsored by Ask Jeeves, Google, ING, Lycos Search and Overture, shows that sponsored text advertising in the search environment work on two levels: paid click-thrus from active shoppers; and increased "unaided brand awareness" among other web surfers. The study included advertising for leading brands Health, Auto, Beverage, Electronics, Retail and Finance related brands.

Text ads that were placed in the top spots on search engines caused a 27 percent increase in name recognition. Text ads on article pages caused a 23-percent increase in brand name recognition.

Although less immediate than click-thrus, Unaided Brand Awareness is important to marketers because it contributes to future sales when web surfers remember their ad. Chris Schell, who teaches marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism, said that unaided awareness is an important indicator of brand dominance.

"There is a high correlation between unaided awareness and market share," said Schell. "When people shop, they begin with the brands that they know first. These brands become the basis for their shopping experience."

The most effective text ads are designed to work on both levels -- whether they are clicked on or not. They inform potential customers about specific products AND provide a relevant brand statement.

Tips for creating effective text ads:

Be an Expert

People use a search engine to learn about products and services. Use text ads to promote an informative article and product guide on your site. From a branding perspective, this can position your company as an "approachable expert" in the mind of site visitors.

Be Active

Replace self-descriptive phrases like "We are Experts" with active phrases that describe the benefits of your expertise such as "Increase your Profits." This provides incentive to click through. Ads are more memorable when they present benefits.

Use Hot Buttons

Hot buttons are emotional triggers related to the keywords associated with an ad. People value emotional rewards. Incorporate words that exemplify the benefit of your product or service. A "problem solver" is more relevant (and memorable) than an "expert."

Think "Ads" not "Ad"

Create multiple ads within a campaign. In each use a variety of keywords, hot buttons, active verbs, and click-thru offers. This allows you to target each ad within a specific context where it can remain effective. When using multiple ads within a Google ad group, ads that have higher click-thru rates will be favored over ads with lower click-thru percentages. To boost the rotation of ads, you can define separate groups for related ads.

Watch and Learn

Proactively monitor your keywords. Identify your highest performing keywords. Evaluate when keyword performance increases or declines. Google AdWords and Overture both offer free ROI tracking tools. In addition to monitoring click-thru ratios, monitor the number of impressions provided by the search engine.

When you create text ads consider whether you've addressed the underlying needs of search engine visitors. If you understand the reason they buy a product or service, you can use your findings to create an ad that is relevant and memorable -- which means they'll click if they need your service now, or remember your company when they need its products in the future.