LOOKING FOR MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK?
2016 saw double digital growth in digital advertising spend.
As people spend more and more time online, brand budgets are squeezed and Marketing Heads find themselves under increasing pressure to demonstrate bottom line value, more and more is being spent on digital media.
We all know the pitch. Infinitely trackable in ‘real time', digital offers Brands the opportunity to recognise what's getting people to act and flex their message to get more of them to do so. Sure, it’s not the answer to everything and for some brands it never will be. But for many, digital media plays a vital role in getting people to buy.
And yet, relative to the effort spent developing TV creative, little time is spent working out what the right things are to do and say in this part of the plan. And even less time understanding why.
- How much time is spent trying to interpret why certain messages or media worked?
- How much of this ‘insight’ gathered makes its way back in to the planning process?
- How many briefs benefit from this understanding of what is working?
I can only speak from my own 17 years’ experience, and the answer is none.
It's a closed loop
Technology enables us to optimise creative and messaging based on what works. But it’s largely a 'black box' exercise. Activity is optimised within the confines of a campaign, but the findings rarely see the light of day. Sure, we know how many people saw it, engaged with it and sometimes even how many sales it drove. But, we never know why.
And, if we don’t know why, how can we be confident that next time we’re doing and saying the best things to improve the outcome?
There is real, live, invaluable information to be gained from what people click on, watch and read. There are opportunities to understand the nuances that drive interest, engagement and perhaps even more importantly disinterest and disengagement.
This data holds clues to what moves people from attention to action and if placed at the centre of planning, can allow brands to build activity around the reality of how people buy. Thus increasing its chances of conversion and ultimately delivering better bang for its buck. And who wouldn’t want that?
Data is the enemy of creativity
Results focused, data-led digital marketing – from PPC to Social & Display - is often seen as the dirty end of the market. The criticism levelled by many is that it sacrifices creativity and true ‘brand engagement’ in the pursuit of handle-cranked conversion. And there’s no doubt that in the wrong hands, it almost inevitably does.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way
Digital simply needs to be treated as less of an afterthought and more a vital part of brand experience focused on turning hard-won interest and engagement built in ATL in to eventual sales. And as such should be planned and executed with at least the same consideration and care as the TV ad.
The trouble is, it just doesn’t feel as sexy as TV. And the media budgets sitting behind it are insignificant in comparison. And, because it’s cheaper, more transient and easier to change we’ve created a sense of 'disposability' around digital creative. All of which results in it often falling down the list of priorities.
It’s not 'either/or' - it's 'and'
For most brands and in most cases, digital is one of the few parts of your plan you can track to sale. And for many who lack the paid media budgets to make TV work for them, it’s the very heart of their marketing plan. For all those reasons, as an industry we need to make more of what we can learn from digital.
Not in isolation. Cold data without the ‘why’ takes us back to a world of formulaic creative and the risk of effective mediocrity. We need to be better at interpreting data and understanding what the right questions are to ask of it. But, not at the expense of intuition and an understanding of the absurdities of human behaviour.
Instead, we need to open up the loop and unite this performance data with a bit of good, old fashioned gut-feel. The result should be an ever better mix of compelling, brand-enhancing and sales driving communications that work across the length of the path to purchase.