Yes, that’s right. For someone who has spent the past few years inside of a very well known marketing agency, I am calling this decade the death of the pure branding campaign. This was inspired by the comments in Fred Wilson’s blog post, Affiliate Marketing Undervalue’s the Link.
Before I proceed, let me preface that this is my personal blog and these are my thoughts, which may or may not be reflected by my employer.
A branding campaign is a proxy for “we do not have or have access to the right measurement tools to substantiate a fully measured campaign.” Think about it. Hollywood typically uses “branding” campaigns to launch movies because there is very little technology out there that can report back to say how many people actually saw CommercialX and went to Loews to purchase a ticket this passed Saturday.
There is $250bln spent in measured US advertising each year and we do not have the tools to adequately measure the entire marketing campaign. Something seems off, right?
If we look to Wall Street for guidance on where importance is placed, goodwill (brand) is recognized on the balance sheet but at the end of the day, earnings is most important. Google’s goodwill is a lot less than it’s operating income, which is where Wall Street tends to place it’s bets and the stock is performing well.
With technology penetrating the advertising ecosystem – i.e. Ad Servers, Databases, Optimization Engines, Bid Management Platforms, one would think that we’re closer to a measurable ecosystem. We can only get to the end state if all of our media channels are digital (not necessarily laptop or desktop driven) as we will be able to measure and analyze.
As television (largest medium for ad dollars), print (Kindle, Nook, etc), radio (satellite, HDD), and OOH (digital-OOH) are all becoming digitized, then we can get closer to measuring campaign success.
What many of us deem as extremely important in both optimization and conversion is the actual path to conversion. Atlas and DART all have special names for this but lets use Engagement Mapping. If you are exposed to 7 different advertisements across multiple channels and you convert after the 7th, then generally the last exposure gets all of the credit.
Where this model breaks is upon any non-measured exposure component (today: tv, print, radio, ooh, and sometimes search, yes, search if it’s not part of the database). This is why we need all channels to have a digital backbone or be measured by one (and one without a biased panel set). Lets assume this is fixed (big assumption) and we can measure all the way through from first exposure to conversion (and post).
If we are at this end-state, THEN why do we need a branding campaign? Why should we not include a full call-to-action on each piece of media that drives the user to take some action and to properly associate value with each?
It may take 10 years to get us there, but at least it will be in this new decade. If this happens, two radical things will occur:
- John Wannamaker will roll over in his grave as we will have figured out which part of his ad-spend is working for him.
- Marketers may realize that they are overspending or underspending with their media dollars.
1990s – playing around and innovating
2000s – making things work, starting to track and monetize
2010s – realizing the potential and investing in the infrastructure to make this happen
One could argue that you need awareness before you can get to conversion. Yes, that’s correct, but you can go from instant awareness to conversion much faster now. We also know that consumers enter a purchase funnel from many different places and that some arrive at the funnel much lower than the awareness stage. Just go with it.
If you can understand the technology infrastructure needed to make this all happen, then you can understand why I love where advertising & marketing is headed. Happy holidays – @dherman76