Beyond Clicks: Brand advertising online


By Dominic Trigg

After decades of developing complex econometric models to demonstrate ad success, advertisers welcomed online media with open arms. Not only did it provide an exciting opportunity for brands to engage with a captive audience; they could identify an instant link between clicking on an advert and making a purchase. Advertising’s Holy Grail had arrived.

Fast forward to 2012, and click-throughs often remain the sole focus of online advertising campaigns. But this instant gratification is misleading: click-throughs don’t always lead to sales and an advert doesn’t necessarily warrant a response to have raised awareness of a brand.

The internet is an indispensable part of our working and everyday lives. At the same time, advertisers are spoilt with endless rich media content, video, social media and continued hysteria around memes, viral campaigns and the “next big thing”. The internet’s evolution to the centre of our modern lives means that there are increasingly more opportunities for brands to engage with consumers and for a multitude of reasons – not just instant purchase.

As a result, online advertising provides a much greater opportunity far and beyond the desire to drive simple clicks.

Let’s talk brand

Indeed, studies have shown that people are generally not averse to being contacted by brands online. As long as they obey the unwritten rules of acceptable interactions – and now the written rules of data usage – they expect brands to be approaching them with relevant content.

As a result, branding budgets have been steadily making their way from TV, radio and outdoor to online and, increasingly, mobile. According to the latest figures from the IAB, online advertising spend grew the most out of any category last year, by as much as 14%.

The shift is logical. At the end of the day, click-throughs only account for a small proportion of the total number of people exposed to a campaign message. Just aiming to achieve that one measurable click won’t necessarily lead to a purchase. You wouldn’t expect a direct response from an advert on the underground but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a positive effect and that the message hasn’t been seen and absorbed by thousands of people. Our own work has shown that clicks don’t always correlate with the desired result and, according to ComScore, 63% of all clicks come from just 3% of the online population suggesting that using this as a measure is not necessarily representative.

What will have a long-term effect on sales is increasing brand awareness and favourability. Recent IAB research shows that online is the most cost effective way to increase brand awareness or change perceptions. Plant a seed in someone’s mind, and you increase the chances that they will move through the purchasing funnel either now or in the future.

Driven by technology

Interacting and fostering relationships with people in this way clearly demands a sophisticated understanding of online behaviour. Continual advances in technology make this possible. As the online industry evolves, behavioural, contextual and other data is helping brands to create more effective campaigns that take into account hundreds of pieces of data – from previous purchasing habits to the weather to what was posted on Facebook yesterday.

Once an audience has been found, campaigns can now automatically ‘learn’ what is working and adapt accordingly. In addition, survey tools can be used to assess brand metrics such as awareness and favourability and in this way subsequent campaigns can be continuously improved upon.

Put simply, now is the time for advertisers to take action and ensure advertising is being targeted at the right people, at the right time throughout the entire purchasing cycle. Or, they risk being beaten to the punch.

About author

Dominic Trigg, managing director Europe, is a digital advertising specialist responsible for spearheading the European arm of Rocket Fuel. Dominic joined Rocket Fuel from TradeDoubler, Europe’s number one affiliate network, where he was Vice President of International. With a proven track record of success in the advertising arena, he has held a number of senior management roles, including Managing Director for Infospace, Director of Yahoo’s Ad Operations in Europe, as well as Advertising Director for MSN UK, Hotmail and Expedia at Microsoft’s then fledgling business.

About company

Rocket Fuel is the leading provider of artificial-intelligence advertising solutions that transform digital media buys into self-optimising engines that learn and adapt in real time, and deliver outstanding marketing results from awareness to sales.

Over 400 of the world’s leading brands rely on Rocket Fuel to power their advertising programs across display, video, mobile, and social media.

Founded by online advertising veterans and rocket scientists from NASA, Yahoo!, DoubleClick, and, Rocket Fuel is based in Redwood Shores, California, and has offices in eleven cities worldwide including New York, London, and Toronto.

Rocket Fuel

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