Why run an ad unless there is a direct return on investment right??

That is the motto many marketers have when it comes to any sort of digital ad spend. One of the biggest benefits of digital ads is that everything is measurable and we can clearly identify if there will be a positive return on our spend. This mentality preys on the last touch attribution and expects the consumer to have a impulse response to our ad. The expectation is that they see our ad, drive to our product/service detail page, and make a conversion. Marketers carefully craft their messaging and visuals around this mentality and look to drive conversions above all else. But where did this mentality come from and is this finally the straw that stirs the drink and allows marketing departments avoid the dreaded ‘value’ conversation with the C-Suite?

The Days of Mad Men and Madison Avenue

For decades, marketers have been utilizing non conversion focused advertisements without even batting an eye. This continues today as billboards remain in high demand, TV ads continues to demand big budgets, and print advertisements have made their way into every visual asset in our lives (Ads in airport bathrooms anyone?). Any marketer worth their chops knows that these particular ads drive awareness and familiarity, while ultimately contributes to purchase. This method is sold with promises of ambiguous arbitrary impression estimates, for which measure-ability is next to impossible, targeting is an educated guess at best, and offline conversion attribution requires a great deal of data and mining. By the time you realize your traditional ad worked, the moment to capitalize has passed.

Speaking from Experience

I came from that side of the desk spending years as a brand marketer. I would continuously be questioned by the C-Suite to showcase the value of our print ads and TV spots, without a real delineation if these mediums worked, or some other non-related item caused our short term growth. It was frustrating and is one reason I saw the benefit of digital. I quickly moved a great deal of my marketing spend into digital. It was measurable, contained real value, my money would go further, and most of all, it gave me REAL numbers to show the C-Suite, as opposed to estimates and empty hopes.

Digital Advertising for Brand Awareness

Yea… you read that heading correct. I saw the most value in driving ‘actual’ retail purchases with brand building digital ad spend. I carved out a segment of my digital marketing budget for an endeavor in which I ABSOLUTELY expected to not have a positive ROI. And you know what, it worked immensely. I would run highly targeted brand awareness digital ads in the form of text and visual in a specific geographic region, with a hyper focused message, driving retail purchases.

At Web Talent Marketing, myself and the Paid Search Marketing team are exclusively focused on driving a positive ROI for our clients because, that is how we are measured. A select number of our clients are looking to do more, and not looking for the direct conversion. They want to have that shareability and virality that comes from a brand awareness campaign. They are interested in ‘carpet bombing’ (a word coined by our very own Matt Burkharth) prospective customers in a focused region with product/service educational messages and a bunch of large logos.

A Practice Justified with CPGemarketer chart

While I felt I was one of the only marketers using digital as a brand building engine, it appears that my fellow marketers are seeing the value and allocating budget to this retail conversion focused endeavor. Emarketer released a study that hte US consumer packaged goods (CPG) market has continued to increase their brand focused digital ad spend, with the total ad spend slated to reach $4 billion in 2014, and steadily growing from there. Marketers are finally realizing that all consumers are not ready to purchase today, and it requires a great deal more ‘romance’ before they are willing to open their wallets. Multi-touch marketing is absolutely required and those who are employing this practice effectively are reaping the benefits.

Are you employing this practice with your marketing efforts? Are you comfortable allocating a particular segment of your budget to build your brand with the goals of a longer term return on investment? Does the euphoric high of the directly attributed conversion have your mind clouded and missing the value of getting your brand and logo in front of the consumer as much as possible? Do so at your own peril. If you are ready to drive long term conversions and build a brand with staying power, give us a call.