According to an article from Mashable, big brands such as AT&T, Expedia, Amazon, JC Penney, and ADT each spent several million on Google AdWords during the month of June 2010, with AT&T leading the pack at $8.08 million.
This is interesting since we all generally assume that these brands don't necessarily need to drop such a large investment into online ads with their huge brand recognition and large visibility in offline channels (e.g. TV, print, etc.), but the reality is that marketing on search engines has such a broad reach, which translates into a huge ROI for the corporations involved.
If paid search is needed by large, well known brands, then the need for online ads is even more critical for smaller, local and less well known brands. As mobile marketing continues to grow, paid ads will become even more targeted as ads can now show up depending on your local proximity to a particular restaurant, store or any other business.