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At 12pm on Thursday amidst tweeters, bloggers, and marketers, I found myself at the adTech New York Digital Media Strategy session called Digital Branding: Measuring the Effectiveness of Online Brand Advertising. The speakers at this session included:
· Andy Atherton, COO and Co-Founder, Brand.net
· Dan Beltramo, CEO, Vizu
· Andrew Markowitz, Director, Digital Marketing and Media, Kraft Foods
· Carl Fremont, Executive VP, Global Media Director, Digitas
· Richard Guest, Managing Director, New York, Tribal DDB Worldwide
The big question this session looked to provide context behind was "How is the industry increasing measurement of online branding campaigns' lift on offline sales?" The current situation is that we can easily measure the effectiveness (ROI) of direct response and search campaigns but it is difficult to measure the effectiveness (ROI) of online brand campaigns. The industry wants more "search-like" measurement tools for brand display campaigns, since the current practice is borrowing measurement tools from the offline world.
These tools include but are not exclusive to panels, surveys, focus groups, & recalling of an ad.
One example of a test study that Nielsen is running consists of having 60,000 consumers scanning in everything they purchase & tracking their web habits. While controlling for over 200 variables in this focus group, Nielsen is able to help measure the effectiveness of online ads' lift on consumers' offline purchases. Studies like this should help place a value on how online brand campaigns can impact offline actions.
The reason online publishers want to prove the efficacy of online brand campaigns is because only 5% of brand advertising dollars go to online channels. This statistic came from a Lehman Brothers study which looked at the split of brand vs. direct response spending in traditional and online media. Another part of their findings was that 2/3 of offline spend is on branding while 2/3 of online spend is in direct response. This imbalance furthers the cause to why the online advertising industry is working on new metrics & tools to prove the efficacy of online branding efforts. Online advertising, driven by search, is seen as a direct response medium and the industry wants to change this mindset.
One of the roadblocks preventing display advertising from becoming more prevalent for branding is a lack of measurement on offline sales lift. Vizu & Brand.net represented the firms who are now working on technologies to better measure this lift, especially in real time. Part of this measurement includes how are online brand advertising campaigns effecting users in different parts of the marketing funnel. Is it pushing a consumer from awareness to consideration set? Consideration set to intent to purchase? These are insights marketers want and expect from their online media buys.
I was very surprised by a study that Vizu did with a cosmetics manufacturer measuring brand recall.
The cosmetics manufacturer ran several display creatives with one ad creative offering a promotion of some type (e.g. Free Makeup, Buy One Get One, etc.). The surprising fact was that when measuring the effect of brand lift from different ads, the promotional ads were the ones users experienced the lowest brand lift!
This is insightful since one would think that the promotional ad would drive users to interact with the brand more, and thus have a higher likelihood of recalling that brand. What this study means for measurement is that we need better tools to measure online branding efficacy to show the value of online brand campaigns.
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The example of the cosmetics manufacturer above is an interesting one because it suggests that responsible CMO's probably ought to be testing the branding impact of the Direct Response campaigns that they are running.
A lot of the Direct Response ads, which are generally by their nature promotional, may not be brand building and could even be damaging to a brand. Instead of just measuring Direct Response ads based on CTR's or other online action oriented measures, it is probably worth knowing how those ads are shaping perceptions of one's brand.
The great irony is that while many constructive online brand ad campaigns are pulled because they are measured with an in appropriate metric such as Click-Through-Rates, very few direct response campaigns are pulled or at least appropriately evaluated for the very real damage they could be doing to their brands while generating all those CTRs.