In the world of online the click through rate (CTR) is undoubtably the more tangible measurement of success, and until recently, was the measurement metric of choice for most marketers. But now 2013 has been labelled the ‘Year of Brand Advertising’ according to a recent study in a report produced jointly by Vizu, a Nielsen company and the Chartered Marketers Officers (CMO) Council. Reportedly 48% of global brand marketers will be maintaining their online display advertising spend and there has been a distinct shift towards the industry embracing online advertising as a powerful and effective brand builder.
Interestingly, while the study showed that brand marketers are definitely projecting an overall brand spend growth online in 2013, it also showed that this spend will grow faster in some channels like social media, mobile advertising and video advertising in particular.
While I have believed for years that the true effectiveness of a strong strategic online campaign is its ability to build the brand, there have been many articles, surveys and research papers on the effectiveness (and ineffectiveness) of the banner ad, with the inevitable resultant debate around whether the click through rate (CTR) is the best measurement tool.
Without doubt the awareness of brand, and not the click through rate of the campaign, should be the ultimate measurement of success. Campaigns should use deeper analytics tools when measuring effectiveness because, as we know, CTR measures what percentage of people clicked on the ad to arrive at the destination site but this metric itself does not measure nor predict changes in marketing objectives, such as increased in-store sales, brand affinity, brand awareness, ad recall, and message association.
According to a study by Crowd Science over 75% of users aged between 25 and 54 performed a search or visited a company’s website after viewing their online ad. And general recall (consumers who were able to remember major creative elements of a campaign) for mobile ads is 1.6 times stronger than that of TV advertising according to an Ad Colony and Horizon Media study conducted by Nielsen. In essence, I believe that CTR is seen as a measure of the immediate response to an ad, but not the overall response to an ad.
With the fierce competition around eye-balls and ad spend, it is essential that advertisers can rely on better brand and attribution metrics than solely looking at CTR as an indicator of success.
Similarily stronger performing ads drive greater positive impact on branding metrics, just as TV ads perform better based on the quality of the creative and programming context. Online ads are similarly impacted by factors such as creative, publisher content and type of ad unit. And it is important to remember that banner ads don’t exist in a vacuum. Like most other advertising platforms, banner ads work in a fairly complex manner. Online should become part of the marketing mix instead of being viewed as standalone. Above the line such as TV, radio and outdoor should work together with online ads to achieve specific marketing and campaign goals.
Advertisers looking to include online brand building in their media mix need to look for two things: 1) Confidence that their online investments will help them achieve their brand goals and 2) Metrics that will give them the ability to demonstrate success across their campaigns.
To summarise, display advertising moved away from the click as being its defining factor many years ago and is offering marketers measureable brand lift, brand awareness, message recall and higher purchase intentions. And as said in the Nielsen study: “Digital media continues to develop as a branding medium, growing beyond its roots as a channel of interest solely to direct response marketers. So if you are still only measuring clicks, it’s time to relook at your online display advertising approach.