In just a few years, online advertising has grown to be worth billions of dollars annually.The online advertising/marketing market is growing at a record of 18-30%, faster than traditional advertising due to increasing adoption by marketers, globally. With a current market size of $18 billion, the online market presents a compelling opportunity for interactive agencies. The shift in advertising dollars from traditional to online is significant. This is evident from the fact that online advertising will over take television advertising in the UK by next year, according to a study by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), UK.
While the internet offers unlimited opportunities for marketers, many have not harnessed its full potential. This is due largely to the fact that many marketers have not adopted the right tools to measure its effectiveness. Marketers are turning to agencies that can provide measurable feedback on parameters of success of a campaign, rate its effectiveness and further fine tune the campaign based on responses and reaction of the target audience. In addition, they are also demanding more from agencies on the parameters listed below.
Greater knowledge of digital space: Brand building in conventional marketing channels is a well-established discipline. However, extending these traditional practices for building brands in the virtual world will not always guarantee success. Research has shown that well-established, high profile brands from traditional channels can and do fail when the brand building process models from the traditional channels are rigorously applied to the online channel.
Marketers will expect their agencies to be confident to help their brand communicate successfully on the evolving platforms of interactive advertising and marketing. They will give more importance to interactive divisions of agencies. This makes it imperative for agencies to have a greater knowledge of the digital space to thrive. Else, we may see a trend of marketers switching agencies or hiring additional digital specialist agencies to handle their interactive campaign.
Deploy pull interactions: Brand building on the web is an entirely different experience. The immediate customer experience is far more important to online branding. On the web, there are no customer support representatives to mediate the customer’s experience with the company. Traditional push campaigns will not meet the same success in this environment.
Marketers will expect their agency to skillfully implement pull interactions rather than traditional push campaigns. Every time a visitor will succeed in carrying out a task on the website, the brand’s reputation will be enhanced. Every time a reader is frustrated by the website, the brand’s reputation will diminish.
Digital creative and branding capabilities: Marketers will increasingly rate agencies higher on digital creative and branding skills. Therefore, the aspects of an online customer experience will require to be carefully designed and maintained if the core attributes of the corporation’s brand are to be effectively conveyed. After identifying the brand attributes, agencies will be expected to demonstrate creative skills to translate them into design features successfully.
Essentially, promoting a brand is to promote its mood, feeling and colour. In a brick-and-mortar environment, this includes how the customer is welcomed into the store, how products are packaged and presented, and how clerks and customers interact. Focus will be on user interactions that increase brand awareness and create strong associations between the attributes and the design elements. For instance the marketer of a brand that is considered reliable, positive and engaging will want his website to have a quick response time and up-to-date links, appealing and positive visuals, and interactive elements that provide personalised feedback.
Ability to leverage web 2.0, virtual communities and social media: The majority of today’s marketers will be interested in leveraging more of social networking sites such as Facebook, Orkut and blogs that are popular with the net surfing generation of today. Marketers will feel more comfortable working with agencies that can demonstrate a strong understanding of a consumer’s online behaviour. They will value the depth of understanding that an agency will bring in reaching out to this target audience.
Knowledge of relevant platform, quality of content, ease of navigation will be the parameters of success for agencies in building a brand online. Leveraging new age media tools will be of great importance as the internet is becoming the preferred medium for consumption of content.
Demonstrate strategic thinking and ability to measure success: Marketers will feel comfortable working with agencies that have a chief digital officer to lead the operations. It’s no surprise that they want an agency that can report on where campaigns succeeded, fell short and where they should be fine-tuned. Marketers will rank analytics at the top of their agency wish list.
Marketers will look for agencies that can help them to manage the full customer life-cycle from acquisition to retention. They will also rate highly the value of an agency in increasing customer lifetime value, converting browsers to buyers, retaining and cross-selling, up-selling to existing customers and integrating online with offline for a holistic 360-degree view.
Looking ahead agencies that will be able to deliver these requirements and create the most effective campaigns for their clients will remain relevant and lead the pack.
—The author is senior vice-president and chief creative officer, Sapient
6 months ago