Digital’s role in a downturn

Q: How has the economy impacted marketing budgets for your clients?

A: So far we haven’t seen any impact in terms of budgets, but there are certain categories in which their ROI metrics are a little more stringent. So by default it is a little bit more challenging to spend the money efficiently. But it’s not necessarily like they are saying, “We are taking our budget from X to Y,” there is just more sensitivity to the efficiencies of the type of media. In other words, their target audience or what they are looking for has changed, vs. the actual budget has changed.


Q: How have your financial services clients responded to the downturn?

Where they may have been looking for a slightly more mass audience, they might now be looking for a higher income audience, so your volume of audience is slightly smaller. No one has changed their strategy per se, we have just made adjustments based on a target audience. For example, if we were targeting customers who had a household income of $50,000, we would now be looking for a $75,000 household.

Q: Are marketers turning to digital to help save money?

I see the shift to online being done more in terms of the efficiencies and abilities to track and optimize, rather than purely being cost-driven. We’re not really seeing any cuts. I’m guessing there are a lot more pressure cuts on traditional media budgets because they are less trackable and accountable. Our client tend to be those clients that are looking for more accountability for their media. While we have clients that are brand conscious, they are also looking for metrics to back up their spend.


Q: Do you think that digital will get more successful as marketers are looking for more accountability?

A: It’s hard to say now. It appears that the economy is going to continue in somewhat of a downward trend. Our feeling is that we are really well positioned to help clients as they are looking for more efficient and more accountable types of media. But that’s not to say that I think that digital media will not potentially be impacted. It depends on how negative the economy is.

Q: How is digital marketing more efficient than traditional media? How is this informed by the various digital marketing channels?

There is an ability to target. For example, search is clearly based on people performing an action. A consumer is searching for something. Generally, search tends to be one of the most efficient ways to drive people to your Web site. A searcher is a self-directed person, and they are tying in brand words or looking for particular items, so there is an intent there. It also tends to be the way that most people navigate. With display you have the ability to target geographically, behaviorally and  demographically. Your ability to control who you target is a lot finer. Almost all of our clients are doing a combination of display and search. There is a little bit of art and science to this search and display mix— for example, how to understand the basic keywords and how they work, where the right position for that word is, what response it is getting, and how it looks on the back end.


Q: Due to the downturned market, are you getting more new clients because of your focus on digital?

We are always in talks with new potential clients. Talks we’ve had recently have been almost exclusively around how they can measure their spend better, but I wouldn’t say that the floodgates have opened of people wanting to talk about digital ROI. We have a reputation of focusing on what does it really mean at the end and diving deep into the numbers and how that is tracking back to the digital business for our clients.

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