Digital’s Data Deluge Inhibits Brands

The paradox of digital media’s difficulty in attracting brand advertising is it stems, in part, from the medium’s inherent measurability.

There’s simply too much data. Confronted with a deluge of data, advertisers and their agencies can define success in different ways and optimize in contradictory directions, undermining any attempt to improve performance or ultimately even reach agreement on whether the advertising actually accomplished its objective.

For an online brand advertising campaign — and no different from the world of television, radio, or print advertising — success or failure should ultimately be attributed to performance against the primary marketing objective of the campaign (for example, increasing consumer awareness) and be measured using a single, appropriate metric, such as brand lift, in order to ensure clarity on the ultimate return on investment.

Another common mistake is failure to track the cumulative effect of your online brand advertising. While it is critical to measure and optimize each individual campaign, it’s equally important to track the results of brand building efforts over time. Brands aren’t built in a day — or via a single mega-advertising campaign. Access to relevant benchmarks is a key component of tracking cumulative performance. View your brand advertising as a living, breathing effort that needs to be monitored and adjusted over time, not as an individual campaign. Build benchmarks for performance that are specific to your advertising strategy which allow you to better understand what “good” actually is.

Don’t relinquish ownership of your online advertising. Many brand marketers do not have the same level of expertise around online advertising as they may have with more traditional mediums. So, they end up relying on media and creative agencies to manage their online advertising. This is not problematic in itself. Agencies often bring a high level of specialized expertise and can add a lot of value. That does not mean, however, that brand marketers should completely remove themselves from the details of the development and ongoing evaluation of their online strategy. Online is an important component of your larger advertising mix and you shouldn’t completely outsource development of the strategy, tactics and results. This is especially true if you want the flexibility to work with different agencies without losing ownership of your historical data or normative benchmarks. Spend on the expertise and technology needed to manage, track and improve your online brand building efforts.

Digital media is the fastest growing portion of most brand marketer’s advertising spend. Keep the above in mind, and digital may also prove to be the most effective portion of your overall marketing spend.

Jeff Smith is CMO of Vizu, an online campaign analytics provider.