In previous years, the main question among advertisers was whether digital should be included in their media mix, or not, and whether digital could build brand equity. This channel was seen as an “appendage” that complemented large TV and offline investments. Given a very low share of investment, the creative used on digital media was often simply a copy of that used on outdoor or TV. This media was often used only to support tactical call-to-action strategies, without considering whether it was able to promote branding.
It has since been proven that digital does build brands, and does it very efficiently. This has promoted the growth of digital’s role in the media mix: it currently has a 30 percent share of investment. In some cases, brands have shifted the majority of their advertising budgets to digital, having learnt both from local experience and from observation of global activity. The question then becomes not whether digital should be used, but rather how to use it in the most effective and efficient way.
This is not a simple task. We know that digital media has certain implicit barriers:
· Only three in every 10 Argentinians is open to receiving an advertising message in the digital environment.
· 40 percent feel “stalked” and that the brands are chasing them.
· 47 percent say that branded content in social networks is irrelevant.
· In tune with this, 28 percent have downloaded an adblocker.
· The youngest consumers are the least tolerant, and are most likely to skip ads faster.
On the other hand, the diversity of digital media, platforms and formats, as well as the fact they are constantly being updated, means marketing departments must keep up to date with the codes functions of each.
Digital consumption is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile. This represents a huge challenge, because the latter has a screen with very different characteristics. Users see it as a more personal and private device, so most of the advertising there is seen as intrusive, and is more likely to be rejected than ads on any other screens. Nevertheless, it is the medium with which Argentinians spend the most time, and presents a huge opportunity for brands to take advantage of different “micro-moments” in consumers’ lives.
In this context, what can we do to develop more effective digital communications, seizing opportunities and minimizing risks?
The strength of creative content plays a key role in the performance of digital campaigns. In fact, even though digital is a very efficient and effective medium for building brand equity, when used with poor creative, it can have a negative impact. For that reason, it is essential to consider:
· Synergy across platforms is key to creating a “big idea” with a strong concept that cuts through all communications.
· Customization: each platform and medium has its own codes and languages. Content should be adapted or developed for each one and speak their “language”, but always reflecting the same concept and the big idea of the campaign. At the same time, it is essential to develop distinct creative content for use on mobiles and desktops.
· Content: this must be relevant, appealing and offer something to users, whether that be entertainment, information or utility.
Even though creativity is key, it is also fundamental to understand the most effective and efficient media mix, and the best digital platforms for every category, brand and target, by taking into consideration:
· Context is the key factor to understanding the mood, place, time and objective with which users consume each platform to generate relevant content for each of them.
· Formats: consumers must feel in control, so ads must not intrude with elements that cannot be skipped. Formats that offer rewards or give the audience control – they can be “skipped”, or perhaps clicked to open – tend to be preferred by users.
· Targeting: this is at the heart of reaching the correct person, the correct moment, with the correct message.
With the constant change and appearance of new platforms, touchpoints and formats, it’s vital to measure and learn in order to be able to innovate and maximize the impact of digital investment. The key is to understand not only the performance of campaigns for likes, shares, reach or clicks, but also their contribution to brand strength.
Brands that respect these guidelines will be able to build and strengthen their brand equity through digital campaigns. It’s not by chance that two Argentine brands that are strong BrandZ performers, Quilmes beer and Banco Galicia, use powerful campaign concepts, integrated across platforms and yet adapted for each medium.
The greatest challenge for advertisers now is to stay abreast of the consumption models of their users, in order to develop interesting, relevant and new content. Brands that lead in seizing opportunities to innovate using digital media are those that will make the deepest impressions on consumers’ minds.