Leading With Digital

As digital continues to turn the advertising world on its head, you've no doubt heard digital marketing evangelists talk about the need to "lead with digital." What they are typically referring to is 180-degree change away from the common marketing approach of starting with traditional marketing programs and then extending them to digital channels. The argument being that advertisers must fundamentally change their marketing strategies to align with new digital realities as digital media (including Web, social and mobile) takes a larger piece of consumers' media consumption pie and fundamentally changes how they interact with advertising.

There are numerous examples of marketers embracing this philosophy -- including extreme cases where marketers have completely forgone traditional channels in favor of digital or brands have hired digital agencies as their lead (or only) agency of record. Less extreme examples can be seen in the trend toward traditional creative -- TV and out-of-home for example -- that looks and feels increasingly like online banner / rich media ads, or the trend toward driving to the Web or mobile as the primary call-to-action on direct response offline campaigns.



What if a rebellious brand led their Hispanic marketing efforts with digital? The prevailing wisdom in the Hispanic marketing world has always been that digital is important, but not that important with a majority of Hispanics still digitally divided, or lacking tech sophistication. What would be the fate of such an anti-establishment brand? What would "leading with digital" even look like in the Hispanic market? Let's deconstruct a Hispanic ad campaign and see some examples of what a digital-driven approach might look like:

Campaign Planning

Campaign Objectives During the "Mad Men" era of advertising -- which I would argue continues to this day in Hispanic advertising -- campaign objectives were always a "one-way street" with objectives like increasing awareness or same-store sales. Digital made advertising a two-way game, and as such, effective advertising has to do so much more. Yet most Hispanic advertising objectives are still about being the loudest megaphone. If an Hispanic campaign started with digital, objectives such as interactivity, engagement, utility and word of mouth, it would inevitably take center stage. This is not the case for most Hispanic advertising today. This new set of digitally relevant marketing objectives lends themselves well to marketing frameworks, such as marketing funnels or consumer journeys, with corresponding metrics and the ability to establish pre-launch campaign projections.

Research Every good ad campaign, regardless of target audience, starts with sound research. Yet most Hispanic ad campaigns start with analog research -- traditional focus groups, consumer research panels, etc. Are there purely digital alternatives? I would argue that there is an incredibly powerful insight "fountain" currently available using social monitoring tools like Radian6 to listen to Hispanic consumers online. Think of it as the world's largest focus group, except completely organic. There is a real opportunity to uncover powerful and actionable Hispanic insights with Hispanics heavily engaging in social media. Unfortunately, it's more work than just hiring a research firm to recruit participants for four focus groups or subscribing to a research tool. Taking it one step further, if you can build an online community of Hispanics tied to your brand that you nurture over time, you have the potential to continually tap into a new kind of focus group indefinitely at a much lower cost.

Concept & Copy Testing One of the biggest benefits of leading with digital is the ability to make quick and inexpensive mistakes. This is particularly important for brands or companies that are new to, or have been out of the Hispanic market for some time. They need to be able to fine-tune their initial Hispanic programs. While copy testing is anything but new, utilizing text-based ads targeted to Hispanics -- by market if appropriate -- on Google, Bing and Facebook can provide quick and cheap feedback on concepts, copy and keywords that will resonate with Hispanics. Taking this approach further, creative testing using multiple iterations of banners can provide art direction feedback from a real-life "lab" of online Hispanics. If focus groups are a must, online versions provide valuable qualitative results at a fraction of the time and expense.

Campaign Development

Content Development A sound digitally driven Hispanic marketing campaign with objectives such as engagement, utility or word of mouth activity requires a different approach to creative development. A perfectly executed 30-second TV spot combined with a series of radio, print, and out-of-home ads will not be enough to achieve such interactive goals. Instead, creative production must be replaced with content development -- a different approach that emphasizes multi-form creative that can live in various formats and lengths and tells a longer story. The content development approach emphasizes producing all forms of content (video, imagery, textual) that can deepen website experiences, drive social engagements and spur viral communication -- all while still providing for TV, radio and print ads. This nuanced approach is akin to brands thinking like publishers and media companies.

Campaign Launch

Changes in how brands and companies launch and manage Hispanic ad campaigns represent the biggest opportunities in this digitally led approach.

Digital Pre-launches Most Hispanic advertising starts offline and then migrates online. Why not do the opposite? Digital creative typically takes less time to produce and digital media can be quickly planned, bought and trafficked, so why not launch pilot campaigns online before extending offline to more expensive, time-consuming and inflexible channels like TV, radio and out-of-home?

Digital pre-launching not only provides an opportunity to test concepts and copy as noted above -- including all-important questions of language (Spanish, English or both?) -- but can also provide invaluable data that can inform Hispanic campaign objectives, market selection, and media plans, both offline and online. Pre-launches can be run from a few weeks to a few months, but the benefits can be significant.

Digital Measurement Most Hispanic marketing programs are evaluated post-mortem: "That network TV buy performed well in Phoenix," or "That print ad failed to drive call-center activity." Taking a digital-driven approach means prioritizing real-time measurement tools such as third-party ad serving, Web analytics, and social media tracking tools to impact and influence campaign decisions mid-stream. This approach yields info on which top-performing digital creative can influence creative placements and rotations. Web analytics data on campaign microsites and landing pages can provide important geo-market results that can affect media weighting offline.

It is to be hoped that you can see from this quick analysis that leading with digital in the Hispanic market is not about irrationally abandoning traditional media channels. Instead, it's about drastically changing how Hispanic campaigns are planned, developed and managed. Keeping in mind that a large number of Hispanics are still not online, a thoughtfully executed digitally driven approach to Hispanic advertising can bear significant fruit and take our industry to the next level.

2 comments about "Leading With Digital ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Dian Hasan from MindCode, December 2, 2010 at 1:26 p.m.

    Thanks Jose, very insightful indeed. I particularly valued the company you mentioned Radian6, that puts all digital research into a easy to understand "dashboard" of sorts, to gauge into the social media and see how brands are being talked about.

    For all readers out there, if you have 2 minutes watch Radian6' video:

    Brand Storyteller
    Mindcode - San Diego

  2. Kent Kirschner from MobileBits, December 3, 2010 at 11:41 a.m.


    Excellent points, especially the last two about digital pre-launches. A good case in point would definitely be the work done by Dos Equis/Euro with their Most Interesting man campaign. That caught fire online long before I started seeing and hearing it on air and they were able to cultivate the character even more and make assertions about target audiences.

    You've made an emphatic and convincing argument. Now let's see who's listening!

Next story loading loading..