How to measure online branding campaigns

In an industry so accountable and measurable, it seems that some are using the excuse of delivering “brand awareness” to avoid the need to prove results. Now P&G, one of the world’s largest advertisers, has spoken out for the need for change in the internet marketing industry. In last week’s digital marketing press, Procter and Gamble called upon the industry to focus more on delivering return on investment than just the creative wow. Head of Interactive Marketing, Emma Jenkins, commented that “creative needs to deliver” and that “business objectives need to be embraced all the way through the creative agency”. I think this issue steams from the space that exists between the creative agency and media agency when planning a campaign. Both have significant influence on the results of a campaign, but rarely do they meet to discuss ideas and objectives at the outset. Creative agencies are often so focused on the top half of the brief, little thought goes into how the campaign will be measured and deliver the results. I quote Bill Bernbach on this: "All this talk of creativity has me worried. I fear lest we keep the creativity and lose the sell". Media agencies also need to raise their game, selecting appropriate sites and placements that work for the creative, not just those that meet the required demographic. The challenge in measuring campaign performance for FMCG brands such as P&G is that the sale is not completed online, so there is no sale conversion rate. However, this doesn't mean its impossible to measure results. We just need to be a little more creative in our approach. 1) Rich Media interactions Flash formats not only offer a more eye-catching creative, they also allow the measurement of user interactions from mouse-over, banner expanded, video played, dwell time and response. All of these show user engagement with the brand and campaign. 2) Clicks and landings Often a weakness in many campaigns, develop an engaging and compelling microsite. For a brand like P&G it could contain celebrity gossip, beauty tips, further product information or even a subscription to a newsletter. A microsite not only looks great, but every click is trackable and shows user response. 3) Coupon redemption McDonalds has proven the approach with their recent BOGOF campaign, as did Freshers last Christmas. A printable coupon, or maybe even an SMS message, to redeem in store could be an effective measure of success at point of purchase. 4) Social networking Many products fit naturally into the social networking space, whether it be developing a forum for comment or building an application for Facebook or Myspace. Engage users by asking for reviews of products they have bought and develop free word-of-mouth advertising by recommending to friends. 5) Post-purchase follow-up On the product itself, ask the user to visit your website for free goodies. This not only develops brand advocacy and cross sell opportunity, a cookie can be dropped on their PC allowing for highly targeted advertising to be delivered via your display placements. Yes, branding is not as straightforward as direct sales response, but online marketing can offer a range of metrics to prove its effectiveness, if the creative and media teams get their heads together at the start. By Matthew Finch

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