Bigger Banners Need Integrated Brand Approach

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When it comes to online banner advertisements, bigger is better, right?

The bigger the mousetrap, the more mice you will catch, right? Well, not exactly.

Certainly the bigger-is-better approach is a step in the right direction, but size, unfortunately, addresses only one symptom of a larger illness.

I have been responsible for online advertising since 1996, both on the client and agency side, and there are two fundamental problems with Internet advertising that can be resolved only with time and experience.

First, advertisers continue to segment messaging and imagery in their various media efforts with little thought of advertising integration. This is usually caused by independent, pseudo e-commerce divisions within organizations that initiate online advertising initiatives devoid of any true marketing input.

I can count on several sets of hands the number of large organizations that have built Internet divisions, failed to support them and then blamed those divisions for poorly performing Web campaigns. These units have little or no experience in true brand marketing, and with limited budgets they attempt to run independent ad campaigns without buy-in from marketing.

Consequently, they fail to integrate the brand's marketing messages through all appropriate media segments, and -- bingo -- there goes another poorly executed online campaign. How many times have you seen an online ad campaign that made no sense in comparison to the advertiser's offline campaign?

Is this the result of the Internet or simply bad advertising execution?

The second problem is that the whole online advertising market has become dependent on immediate measurement and complicated reporting metrics. Advertisers are bombarded with multiple reams of data about how effective their online advertising is, when all they really need are the answers to two simple questions: "Did my advertising deliver the intended brand experience?" and "Did my advertising deliver more dollars to my business?"

Unfortunately, because these questions are starting to be answered via the Internet, an expectation has developed among advertisers that has never been imposed on offline media. And that's not right.

Think about it. If you are in a cab and you see a billboard for Gap khakis, you wouldn't expect to say, "Stop the cab at the first Gap store. I've got to have those khakis right now!"

We don't expect immediacy from television, print or billboard advertising, so why would we expect totally different results from the Web?

To put impossible success metrics on one media over another is the symptom of inexperienced brand managers or, worse yet, impatient clients that demand immediate, positive return on investment on every activity that occurs.

When you look at the greatest brands -- be it a car or laundry detergent -- you can see that marketers not only took the time to build the brands, but also allowed their customers to build relationships with the brands over time. Today, too many marketers are unwilling to let their brands grow long enough in any media to determine their success.

The good news is that there is technology available that can help advertisers deliver the right message, at the right time, and to the right customer via the Web. Even more encouraging is that the same technology can deliver information about a consumer's experience with a brand, either immediately or over time (after an initial impression or a click through).

Bigger banner ads can be better, but only if they are supported by an integrated brand marketing approach that includes strong messaging, imagery and simple measuring tools. When this happens and complexity is given the boot, services and solutions are easier to use and advertisers will begin to move back online.


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