Ad:tech Chicago Kicks Off With the Age of Performance Branding

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Adrants contributor Krista Neher of Photrade attended the opening ad:tech Chicago keynote and submitted this article:

Ad:tech kicked off with a great start! ad:tech Chair Dew Ianni introduced the keynote speaker and shared some key info on the state of the industry. A few key pieces of information:

- Online Advertising is growing - from $25B to $50B in 2012
- IAB reported $6.8B in Q1 with growth of 18% (not bad for a slowing economy)
- Key Trend - Consolidation: 300 "networks" to a few dozen by 2010
- $$ still flowing to innovators: Apps/Widgets, Social, Mobile, Niche
- With the state of the economy, ad budgets are tightening, however digital and online continue to show growth

The stage was set with an optimistic outlook for digital marketing, and keynote speaker Google Industry Development Director Kevin Kells kicked it off by asking the audience: "What comes to mind when you think of performance and brand building?" After a short silence (probably because the coffee hasn't kicked in yet), the audience threw out some suggestions:

- Search
- ROI
- Increased Sales
- Growth

According to Kevin, growth comes largely from being more relevant to the marketplace. There are two things that are really driving this: 1) Gathering and using better insights from the people that matter to you the most and 2) Telling more stories more often to people who matter to you.

Marketers used to search for connections with the right consumers based on insights. The industry is now shifting, and consumers are looking for you. Consumers are interested in interacting with brands. The FanPages on facebook are a great example of how consumers are actively engaging with the brands that they love.

There are 3 key forces driving this shift in the industry:
1) Technological Breakthroughs
2) Search as the BIG idea
3) The effectiveness decade

The technological drivers of change are the democratization of information, accessibility of information and accessibility of storage. The democratization trend is highlighted by the growth in user-generated-media; anyone can create content and post it to the web and build a global audience. The brands that will perform well are those who are engaged in the content game. They focus on content and not just advertising.

Accessibility to information has increased dramatically with the growth in broadband internet; more and more households have access to high-speed internet (64% of households). Additionally, storage costs are plummeting - think of the ipod and memory cards and how much data they can now hold for a fraction of what they cost a year ago.

For Brand Builders, there are more tools for brands to connect with consumers. Americans are watching more user generated video and there is a proliferation of information and content being developed for the internet.

With the growth of online content search becomes a more important field. The brands that will perform best in this era will be those who can understand search and how it works. Marketers have more power to tell the right stories to the right consumers at the right time. Keep in mind - this presentation is from a Google guy - obviously they love search.

Search is important because it connects consumers with all of the information that they care about and it connects marketers with the consumers that they care about. According to Kevin 50% of all sales (online and offline) are affected by web research despite only 6% of sales taking place online (I know - I was surprised by this). Many CPG brands think that their categories are not heavily searched (particularly because they are low involvement purchases), however even these categories have a lot of search (check out the google Keywords tool to see how much your category is searched). If you include related subject areas (ie. if you sell deodorant, how often do people search body odor) the opportunity represented by search is clearly large for almost any category.

"You're Sitting on Your Assets!!!" Many brands have great content that can't be found and therefore are not being fully utilized. Maximize your ROI by taking your existing assts and make them more relevant and searchable (maximize your exposure). Heinz had a great execution with an online video contest - they had over 1 million views of the call to action video, 4k qualified contest entries and over 100k hours spent interacting with the brand. While the results sound good, without an understanding of the costs and ROI it is difficult to assess how successful this contest actually was at increasing sales relative to the costs.

"If you build it they will come" isn't typically the best marketing strategy for online. People have to be able to find what you built at a time that is relevant to them.

Three key questions (Kevin calls them "steps of faith") to ask when looking to spend online (these are all rhetorical questions - the answers are all intended to be yes):

1) Can online campaigns drive brick and mortar sales?
-Dove created a holistic online campaign which showed a 25% increase in dollars spent on the brand with the majority being new customers.
2) Search.... Great for direct response but can it help build my brand?
- Search engine results have shown increases in unaided awareness, purchase consideration and purchase intent. At the same time, competitors showed decreases across the same metrics.
3) If I have a great video asset, should I put in online or on TV?
-Both. Google tested 3 categories with the same creative on TV, online on youtube and online embedded in content. Content is shown to be as effective online as on traditional TV. (again, remember, this guy works for google)

These are actually really valuable considerations when looking at your existing strategies online. Are you fully leveraging what you have? Are you tracking your results in meaningful ways?

As the session closed, Kevin offered three key takeaways that are really valuable things for marketers to consider. Ask yourself these questions when assessing your digital campaign:
1) Unimaginable scale.... Use it. Take advantage of all the opportunities that the internet offers.
2) Are brand assets performing hard enough? Have we made our assets findable and discoverable?
3) Measure in terms of brand-building metrics. Are we measuring against brick and mortar sales?
Ask yourself these questions when evaluating the current state of your marketing spending and when looking to design and execute future campaigns. Ad:tech is off to a great start, and the keynote was rich with information and food for thought. Stay tuned - the conference is just getting started here and there is much more to come.

by Steve Hall    Aug- 5-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Industry Events, Online   

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