TV finally loses ground to online as a branding Mecca
Guest columnist Roger Williams of Maxifier says that shifting to digital for brand advertising requires a closer marriage between technology and creative
John Lewis’ decision to air its last Christmas ad online 36 hours before it was shown on television is evidence that digital is proving itself a medium that can deliver audiences at scale for brands, something that was once purely the domain of television. Fragmented TV audiences, the growth of mobile as the screen of choice for media consumption, the ability for online sharing, and the immediacy of digital metrics to determine the attitudes of consumers mean we may finally be seeing a sea change in how brands are approaching digital.
Last fall, we saw Omnicom Media Group, which oversees over $50 billion in annual ad spend for the likes of Pepsi, Starbucks and McDonald’s, advise clients to move as much as 25 percent of their TV budgets to online video. Marketers are turning to digital for brand advertising in increasing numbers, in alignment with a general shift to greater reliance to digital overall, according to Nielsen.
Yes, TV is definitely losing ground to online as a branding mecca.
What brands still crave, however, are methods of verifying delivery to their intended audience and accurately measuring their impact. As digital overtakes TV spend in the next two years, as predicted by Forrester, providers have increased opportunity to command bigger budgets by better delivering on advertiser goals.
First and foremost, you’ll need to plan your campaign strategy before deciding which medium is best suited to meet your aims. Traditionally, TV has been seen as critical for brands reaching the mass market, but that’s changing. You’re not going to rely only on TV, search, digital or outdoor — truly integrated campaigns will have elements working together across channels. TV viewing is falling and the reality is it’s no longer the default option for branding campaigns. This shift to on-demand TV and accessing TV on other screens is affecting most demographics.
Second, you’ll need to get up to speed with the latest digital developments for brand advertisers if you haven’t already. Viewability and interaction metrics, as well as new and impactful ad formats like the IAB’s rising stars, are helping brands verify delivery to intended audiences and measure impact in ways relevant to them. Native ads and video are driving greater engagement and incredible measurement opportunities.
Third, it’s time to truly move beyond this perception of digital as consisting mainly of banner ads — as a performance marketing-only channel. We’ve traditionally thought of digital as simple messaging, with obvious calls to action, and focused entirely on driving conversions and sales. Brands require creativity and storytelling to make that emotional connection with audiences, and while TV has certainly delivered in the past, digital is rapidly gaining ground. In addition to those interactive and engaging new ad formats, we can now offer brands the metrics they need to evaluate effectiveness. Where we’d previously tried CTR on for size (and found it failed miserably on delivering to brand expectations), we can now offer in-view rate and in-view time; universal interaction rate; interaction times, etc.
Finally, providers must understand that this isn’t a matter of outright replacing TV with digital, which is certainly stealing budget from offline but works best in integrated campaigns.
The whole digital approach is permeating the brand space, bringing automation, better metrics, targeting, greater efficiency and scale into the online space that is challenging TV. Savvy marketers are now able to extend the brand experience across multiple screens, creating a cohesive experience and messaging for consumers across TV, YouTube, Twitter, search engines, niche social networks and the relevant websites that reach their target audiences.
Shifting to digital for brand advertising requires a closer marriage between technology and creative. Automation and creativity must effectively work together for brands to make campaigns easier to buy and execute but also more creative, compelling and relevant to target audience segments.
We’re really just beginning to see the shift, as more brand dollars come online. There are still issues to address on the digital side, with brands concerned about where their ads are appearing as well as areas around control and transparency. These issues need to be persistently worked out, but they won’t prevent the continued shifting of budget from TV to the channel that’s increasingly stolen its reach and efficacy.
It’s the early days still, but digital advertising — traditionally seen as a performance environment — is now very much being seen as an environment to build brands.
Roger Williams is Chief Marketing Officer at Maxifier, responsible for marketing and communications activities across the business, developing strategies for driving and enhancing the recognition of the Maxifier brand and its solutions.