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Sobering up and making sense of digital

Dr. Peter Ludwig

Head of Brand & Communication

Kantar TNS



After the "digital drunkenness" of the last few years, many marketing managers are becoming disillusioned with digital communication. Procter & Gamble recently cut more than US$100 million from their digital advertising budget, without causing any significant slump in business figures. Can it be concluded, therefore, that digital communication has no effect?


An extract from the global database of our Touchpoint solution "Connect" shows that digital advertising is on average responsible for only 3 percent of brand impact generated through recent touchpoint experiences (across paid, owned, and earned touchpoints). This effect, however, varies greatly across industries, brands and countries. In Germany, for example, there are brands in the financial sector for which digital advertising is responsible for more than 12 percent of brand impact coming from recent touchpoint experiences. In the FMCG sector, however, there are brands whose digital advertising does not just fail to improve the brand; it actually has a damaging effect on their brand equity.


Our view is that the use of digital communication must always be determined by the context in which a brand is operating. Is the category and the brand even suitable for digital communication? What is the path to purchase for the brand? Do major parts of the customer journey take place in digital media (as they do in the travel and banking industries)? Where do competing brands cross paths along the way? Then, how good is the quality of the creative content, and how well does it fit the channel? Are there creative synergies between digital and non-digital messages? And are the communicated messages consistent with the targeted emotive positioning of the brand?


If all of these questions are defined in an integrated branding and communication strategy, and implemented in a channel compatible manner, then digital communication, in conjunction with communication at other touchpoints, can make a significant contribution to brand equity and sales.