Advertising is witnessing the beginning of a renaissance! As the economy starts to right itself and advertisers look towards ways to expand their customer bases, advertising will benefit from an increased examination on how we can effectively reach an audience.
My opinion on this is simple, we are witnessing the evolution of advertising to where Branding continues to be a necessary element of the overall success of a campaign, but is no longer separate from Direct Response or ROI analysis. The development of a strong brand is necessary for the achievement of sales goals, but cannot be separated from the examination of overall ROI for an ad budget. I have never worked on a piece of business that was strictly branding, but every company I ever worked on will agree that building a brand and cementing brand loyalty through a positive experience is necessary to achieve your customer-focused business results. That being said, at the end of the day the only way an advertiser can truly measure success is not brand recall, but total sales. If the dollars did not sustain or increase these metrics, then the campaign was not successful!
Brand recall is the traditional way in which a company measures the success of their brand building endeavors, but I propose we further the evolution of our metrics to include elements such as time of exposure, length of exposure, interactivity of exposure, size of the ad unit, vehicle and medium the ad was exposed in, clutter surrounding the ad, and cross-media reach. These elements, married to traditional GRP and ROI analysis, can be integrated to supply a number that measures the effectiveness of advertising across different vehicles, online and offline.
Media supports one another and smart advertisers spend dollars across various forms of media. True advertising effectiveness comes from varying the weighting of your media dollars against differing media formats. This is how we can demonstrate the effectiveness of the Interactive space. Interactive may not be as as effective as Television when it comes to developing a brand, but we can surely surpass the effectiveness of Print or Radio by proving that interactivity increases the likelihood of a user's brand experience with a company. That is infinitely more valuable than just seeing an ad in a magazine or on a billboard while driving down the freeway.
We need to demonstrate that (a) your market is online, and (b) advertising online can increase your desired results such as increasing sales. By doing so, and offering remote brand interaction through various online touchpoints to support the advertising a company is running in other forms of media, we can demonstrate this medium is effective at increasing the effectiveness of your brand building/results driven ad campaign.
We cannot continue to think that measuring the effectiveness of Interactive media in a vacuum will ever be effective. The branding discussions that online companies develop are a great start, but we have to realize these studies do not account for exposure to an ad in the offline world, and we cannot assume the online user is sequestered in a world that only includes their computer screen.