Yahoo! To Advertisers: Online Brand Campaigns Drive Offline Sales
Part of this may have to do with the stigma that surrounds the Internet as being primarily a direct sales channel. At the 50th Annual Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Convention and Trade Show on Wednesday, Yahoo! and ACNielsen put forth compelling evidence to the contrary.
The two companies presented results from their joint project Consumer Direct, which is aimed at consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs). CPGs represent a big chunk of the nation's largest brand advertisers. The service is designed to help CPG companies extend their online reach and directly measure the offline sales impact of online campaigns. The idea, of course, is to improve marketers' return on investment (ROI), but more significantly, the product brings accountability to the branding efforts of advertisers.
Consumer Direct combines information collected by panelists from Homescan, ACNielsen's consumer panel that tracks packaged goods consumption--who also actively engage with Yahoo!'s network of sites. The Consumer Direct team then takes information collected from its pool of 19,000 panelists and matches marketing messages to Yahoo! customers who demonstrate similar interests. The ACNielsen Homescan panel is then used to evaluate campaign ROI, including metrics around the impact on retail sales and brand loyalty.
At the ARF conference, Yahoo! category development officer Blake Chandlee and ACNielsen consumer direct online eastern sales manager Dan Creekmore touted a simple but clear message to consumer packaged goods advertisers: marketers should allocate budgets based on the shift to greater consumption of online media.
Consumer Direct branding initiatives have provided advertisers with considerable returns, and the program's reach is far bigger than marketers think, according to the results presented by ACNielsen's Creekmore. The program's reach across the Yahoo! network is in excess of 10 million users. Short-term sales, as a result of the online campaigns, were in excess of $3 million. ROI ranged from 100 percent to 300 percent--far superior levels to those achieved in offline advertising and other promotions, Creekmore noted. Overall, the average lift in sales after exposure was 15 percent-20 percent, and all campaigns showed some lift.
Yahoo!'s Chandlee said that in-house behavioral targeting is the secret to Consumer Direct's success. "Behavior-based marketing enhances the current process," he said, adding that the process allows advertisers "to categorize your audience and tailor the message to meet your objective."
Ads targeted through the Yahoo! creative bring users to the site for direct purchases (where applicable), or to more information, coupons, or promotions. Platforms used also included advergaming, registration pages, recipes, sweepstakes, and coupons, in addition to banners and leaderboards.
However, as Chandlee noted, rich media was most effective. "It takes less impressions to move someone to buy or take action," he said.
The Consumer Direct team noted that it's seen a lot of renewals. "We think we're onto something with this product," said Creekmore. "Our library of results is starting to build."
Consumer Direct customers include Kraft, Dial, Nestle, The Gillette Company, and Unilever. According to Yahoo!, the majority of Consumer Direct customers are in the food and beverage, health and beauty care, and general merchandise categories.