Branding, DM Become One Online

Are you a brand marketer or a direct marketer? It’s a question that seems to draw a line in the sand. In traditional media, the separate (and not always equal) groups make sense. Depending on which group you fall into, you must advertise certain ways and on certain media. However, you can’t pigeonhole marketers into one group. On the Web, direct marketing and branding are not discrete, but rather a continuum.

The division of the direct and brand marketer in traditional media is fairly clear. Mail is for direct marketers. Television advertising during prime time is for branding, but late night for direct marketing. Print is for branding, but the back pages are for direct marketers. On the Web, there are no special times or content for each group.

If Dell is advertising its computers on television, it knows it will create brand awareness. Odds are no one is going to pick up the phone and order a computer or ask for more information while sitting on their living-room couch. Dell is generating brand awareness for future computer buyers; hopefully hitting its target market based on the show’s projected audience.

On the Internet, although Dell may have been advertising with the goal of creating brand recognition, the interaction of the Web makes it possible for a branding ad to turn into a lead or a sale. Consumers on the Web know they can receive more information with only the click of the mouse. A powerful ad campaign (even if the initial goal is branding) can immediately lead to serious dollars. Branding and direct marketing,

in a sense, have merged into one.

The fact that brand advertising does have the ability to generate immediate results, however, should not undermine the importance of its more common role – building a brand identity. This is perhaps even more important on the Internet, where there are thousands of new and unknown companies. Creating trust and recognition with a consumer can be difficult in this setting, but then that’s what advertising is for. And it seems to be working.

A recent study by the Internet Advertising Bureau tested a variety of banner ads on a sample group composed of more than 16,700 Internet users to examine the effects of branding on the Web. The study not only showed a significant increase in the awareness of the brand, but also resulted in an enhanced image of the product in the mind of the viewer. In fact, results revealed online advertising is more likely to make a lasting impression on a viewer than television advertising.

Closing the Loop

Whether your initial goals are branding or direct marketing, the Internet will provide all marketers with the capability to measure the results of their campaign and use the information to increase effectiveness.

Measuring the effectiveness of a campaign on the Web does not mean looking at the click rate and deciding if the campaign is working. Money spent trying to increase click rates does not always lead to higher revenue and customer acquisition. What does? Data.

It’s not the most glamorous aspect of advertising, but when used correctly data will allow you to learn more about your customers, provide better products, better marketing and make more money. The Internet provides the unique forum where data gathered from past campaigns can be easily used to improve future campaigns.

For example, let’s say a user visits a site via an online ad to find out more information on a product. Does he buy something? Does he fill out a lead form? Does he just leave? Marketers can analyze for correlations in this information to learn more about their customers. This valuable information is used to fine-tune and target campaigns to eliminate waste in the next campaign – closing the loop between advertising and sales and increasing ROI.

Advertisers can now learn things like how many ads a consumer has seen before visiting their site or making a purchase. Based on this type of information, they can then change their messages, ad placements, and creative appropriately. One product from Millward Brown Interactive, called Voyager, uses demographic and psychographic information collected on thousands of users to allow advertisers to learn specifically who is seeing their ad – regardless of a click. Advertisers can finally learn exactly who their campaigns are reaching, and then adjust their plans in the future to further eliminate waste.

Both the brand marketer and the direct marketer can use data to build better relationships with their consumers. While strategies will undoubtedly differ between the two, both brand advertisers and direct marketers will be able to receive value from Internet advertising at every point during a campaign. No other medium has the capability to fulfill the needs of both types of marketers.

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