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There’s more to life than clicks
Dominic Trigg | August 13, 2012
Since the dawn of advertising, marketers have been developing complex econometric models to prove the worth of their ad work. The click-through seemed like the answer everyone had been waiting for; it gave a clear, comparable measure that an advert had been seen and acted upon.
Fast forward twenty years and the way we use the internet has changed dramatically. As a result, those chasing click-throughs as the objective of all campaigns have been disappointed by low conversion rates and a diminishing ROI. Yet, marketers still cling to click-through rates (CTR) to demonstrate success because it offers rapid measurement and instant results.
In reality, consumers are not all sat at the bottom of a magic purchasing funnel waiting to be tipped into a sale. As the customer journey changes, so too must brand advertisers’ approach to engaging with them online.
While CTR can be a useful indicator of success in some cases, it can only ever effectively measure an advert that calls for an instant direct response – alongside a relevant piece of editorial, for example.
As digital media has evolved, people have spent an increasing portion of their work and social lives online. Now, it is fair to say that the majority of customer touch points will occur in this environment. This creates innumerable opportunities to engage with the most appropriate audiences at every stage of the purchasing process, from awareness, brand building and familiarity through to creating buzz, recommendations and sales.
To chase clicks at all costs is to ignore a significant and valuable proportion of the digital population; the people that aren’t buying your product or service now, but may do tomorrow, next week or at any time in the near future.
comScore research suggests that 63% of clicks come from just 3% of the online population. This goes some way to demonstrating the vast opportunity that awaits marketers beyond the traditional methods of advertising, and where first-movers are seeking their advantage.
Brand building blocks
CTR then should only ever be seen as one of a number of building blocks of campaign planning and evaluation – especially for those looking to have a long-term effect on sales and customer loyalty by building their brand. Otherwise, you will be in a far weaker position than those that have invested in brand advertising when you come to the party.
Studies have shown that people expect brands to approach them online – as long as it is with relevant content. And, although it demands a sophisticated understanding of behaviour to engage effectively, it is not as difficult to foster these relationships as some people think.
Continual advances in technology make it possible to identify audiences based on behavioural, contextual and other data, to help brands create more effective campaigns. These campaigns take into account everything from previous purchasing habits to the time of day and even the weather.
The results of online brand advertising campaigns have been phenomenal. Just because an ad hasn’t been clicked on doesn’t mean it hasn’t been seen. Tools such as in-banner surveys can be used to prove that brand-focused messages have been seen and understood; for example, that an FMCG brand is healthier, or that a new car model is more energy efficient, than its competitors.
The virtual battlefield
Real-time optimisation technology can be used to ensure these messages are finding the most receptive audiences, thus propelling the brand message further and casting a wider net of engaged consumers online. Campaigns can now ‘learn’ what is working and adapt accordingly, to improve targeting and effectiveness.
Technology can also be used to ensure that this audience is targeted in the right way, for example frequency capping systems ensure that potential customers are not over-exposed to the same advert, avoiding fatigue.
Those that are embracing new media opportunities and leveraging powerful campaign and measurement technology are engaging with a wider and more targeted audience online, and are seeing incredible results. In the current economic environment, this is vital: to both achieve and demonstrate strong results that can be used to shape future campaigns.
Recent IAB research shows that online is the most cost effective way to increase brand awareness or change perceptions. It is hardly surprising that global adspend studies constantly report an uptick in digital. This trend will undoubtedly continue as new media formats and internet connections evolve.
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