Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

In an era in which consumers have considerable control over the advertising they see, Kantar Millward Brown global analyst Nigel Hollis believes that, rather than asking what your brand can do in digital, it’s more appropriate to ask what digital can do for your brand.

Speaking at a presentation in Johannesburg recently, Hollis said digital offers all sorts of new opportunities for companies to connect with consumers – but these work on consumers’ own terms.

The big take-out: While digital advertising presents myriad opportunities to advertisers, in an age of search, skip and share, these work on consumers’ own terms.

Immediacy – the new mind-set – is enabled by the fact that everything we want to know is available at our fingertips. We don’t see better returns on digital campaigns, he added, because too many digital campaigns undermine brands rather than build them up. Negative reactions to repetitive advertising – including content that does not resonate – are leading more people to load ad-blockers.

However, Hollis believes there is significant upside potential to digital advertising when it’s done properly. He said there are three fundamentals that determine the effectiveness of digital advertising.

The first fundamental is the realisation that the real power of brands lies in their ability to create a memory that will, in turn, influence future choices. Good marketing, said Hollis, can help create positive memories across three critical moments: the moment of exposure (which will influence future behaviour); the moment of experience (which encourages repeat behaviour); and the moment of choice (which influences immediate behaviour). “Choice is the moment when people are most likely to try to make up their own minds, doubt the claims made by advertising, or compare features and prices,” he said.

Achieving success could be as simple as triggering fond memories of the brand at the right time. Hollis used the example of British ice-cream brand Wall’s (now owned by Unilever), which needed to reverse eroding value market share on a limited media budget. Using frequent fun reminders close to the point of purchase, the brand’s campaign combined traditional on-street media, such as posters, with new media, including mobile, Facebook and Twitter. A total of 80% of spend was temperature activated, while 30% was geotargeted in areas where Wall’s products were available.

“In total the campaign generated £1.84 of short-term revenue for every £1.00 spent – three times the UK packaged goods average,” he reported.

Explaining the success of the Wall’s campaign, Hollis said strong brands are built on positive experiences that become memories – and vice versa. “Brand communication plays an important role in guiding customer attention to focus on positive attributes,” he said.

The second fundamental is the fact that you are unlikely to get anywhere without an objective. To ensure digital advertising is effective, said Hollis, you need to start with what needs to change.

He suggested using the “five Cs” to ensure digital campaigns make more money for the brand. These include:

·     A change objective (what is the best opportunity to grow profits?);

·     A consumer insight (what human truth can you tap into?);

·     A campaign idea (which creative idea will best leverage that insight?);

·     A channel choice (how do you reach people when they are most receptive?); and

·     Creative execution (will your key execution earn attention in the chosen channels?).

Hollis said successful campaigns are becoming more architectural in design and are intended for a specific purpose. “Unique events create engagement and stimulate sharing.”

 The third fundamental is that you have to earn attention – you can’t force it. Hollis explained that digital is empowering a shift in the media model from an old-school to a new-school way of thinking. In the new-school model, campaigns are designed to earn a sharing and publicity bonus.

“TV and digital make a great combination when it comes to generating return on investment, as TV primes attention and interest, while digital allows for deeper engagement and activation,” said Hollis.

His final point was that how a brand uses price as an incentive signals a great deal to consumers. This means marketers need to be careful of using price as a tool to increase sales.

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