I'm 'Breaking Brand' -- Are You?

I love marketing: the ability to develop a story, weave that story through media and watch it resonate with an audience.  The chance to follow that story through to a conclusion, potentially resulting in customers: this is a highly engaging activity for me, and one I thoroughly enjoy.  It’s not unlike watching “Breaking Bad,” to be honest. 

There’s a parallel in marketing that echoes the struggle of Walter White, if you know where to look (not that I am in any way comparing advertising to cooking meth in a trailer).  For Walter White, it was the balance between good and evil.  For me, it’s the balance between branding and direct response. I think most marketers struggle with finding this balance, too.

The promise of digital media has always been one of accountability and the opportunity to measure response.  Most initial digital advertising was focused on direct response and driving actions, but in recent years the Internet has started to “break brand,”  finding ways to utilize digital media as a tool for brand development. Advertisers are measuring reach and frequency and they’re crossing these measures against addressability and interaction, coming to a conclusion that brand advertising can indeed be measurable. Delivering a branding message with little to no waste when you can isolate an audience is an amazing tool. My instincts say that this could lead to a true revolution in brand marketing that will have a ripple effect across all media and channels.



I’ve been writing a lot about addressability the last few weeks. Addressability in other formats of media means audiences can be identified and delivered relevant messaging.  This means a reduction in waste and a maximizing of budgets.  Mobile has the potential to be the great connector here, providing proximity to messages in lieu of actual addressability, if the privacy concerns around location-based data are respected. 

Couple that with where TV is headed and the inevitability of addressability, and you start to see a world where all media becomes accountable to the exposure of ad messages, and attribution models merge with media mix modeling to provide marketers true insight into the performance of their campaigns.   It may not be real time, but it will certainly be shorter than it currently is (at least three months for most traditional media to cume and report back).

The question arises then, how to establish expectations for your marketing?  What portion is considered “customer acquisition” and what portion is considered “branding”?  I would argue these denominations become outdated.  They become short-term vs. long-term customer qualification or conversion.  Your marketing can become targeted outreach focused on specific audiences and these audiences are either existing customers or hypothetical customers (prospects).   In doing so you are actually attempting o qualify the audience to see if they will become a customer or not, and if they qualify then you push them through the customer journey. 

For small brands, even B2B brands, this is standard practice (they refer to it as the customer funnel).  For larger brands, this is still very applicable, allowing for larger aggregations or more customer segmentation.  A large brand that appeals to almost everyone can still benefit from removing the “never likely to convert” audience, focusing efforts against TRPs that are likely to drive revenue. 

So it’s possible that while the digital media landscape continues to push towards more addressability in message delivery, it's also “breaking brand” and leaning towards the metrics typically associated with brand advertisers more than standard interaction and direct response metrics.  Eventually, all media could be measured by the same metrics.

I know in my marketing efforts we’re measuring lead generation, but we track proxy metrics for brand building and awareness, trying to track the correlation between the two.  For example, does a high period of social activity correspond with an increase in new lead volume?  Does a high-profile PR mention translate to more qualified leads being developed?

How are you integrating traditional brand metrics into your digital marketing efforts?

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