Too often, I see brand advertisers make (costly) mistakes as they venture into the world of online advertising. Having observed our customers measuring and optimizing thousands of online brand advertising campaigns working with my company, I’ll share a couple of common pitfalls that can easily be avoided with a little planning.
1. Don’t use click-through rates to optimize or measure the success of brand advertising campaigns.
The click-through rate seems to have become the default measure of the effectiveness of online advertising, tracing back to the early days of the Internet. While appropriate as a measure of the effectiveness of direct-response campaigns, click-through rates are meaningless to brand advertising campaigns. GM doesn’t advertise in hopes that someone will click through on their banner and purchase a car; they are instead in trying to shift consumer perception against brand funnel metrics -- for example, building awareness around the availability of a new sport utility vehicle.
Yet many brand advertisers continue to measure success based on click-through rates, and often make detrimental or even brand-damaging decisions because they are using a meaningless metric. The takeaway: For brand advertising, you should be measuring and optimizing against the percentage increase in consumer perception (for example, awareness of the new sport utility vehicle) of a group of people who have been exposed to your advertising over a group of people who have not been exposed to your advertising. Pay no attention to click-through rates unless you are a performance marketer.
2. Don’t fail to build relevant benchmarks against which to measure performance over time.
I see advertisers focus a lot of attention on the results of a single campaign, particularly when it is a very large campaign. While it is important to measure and optimize each campaign individually, it’s equally important to track the cumulative results of your brand-building efforts over time. After all, brands aren’t built in a day, and rarely via a single mega-campaign. In this same vein, your evaluation of the effectiveness of your efforts and the partners you have chosen to work with should be based on a cumulative view of performance.
Access to relevant benchmarks is a key component of this equation. For example, when one of the media agencies we work with saw a 34% brand lift for the campaign they were managing, they asked,: "Is that better or worse than average for campaigns of a similar nature?" This was nothing new, in fact, we get asked all the time to provide “market norms” for this very reason, which we do. But our more sophisticated customers go beyond that, building out their own normative performance data specific to each of their individual brands and a host of other dynamics related to their advertising strategy.
These norms are in some sense superior to more general “market norms” as they control for more variables. The takeaway: View your online 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.
Given that the majority of consumers advertisers want to reach are shifting online or already there, online advertising is a vital component of your advertising mix. As long as you keep a few basic tenets in mind, and work to avoid the common pitfalls I’ve noted above, you will find the medium to be an extremely powerful and effective brand-building tool.