Vikas Gulati
Mar 30, 2016

Branding v performance: Dawn of a new online era

Brand awareness and measurable conversions are not mutually exclusive. Time to think in terms of brand performance marketing, writes Vikas Gulati of Opera Mediaworks.

Vikas Gulati
Vikas Gulati

The digital advertising ecosystem is gaining rapid strides, and rightfully so, because digital is the most addressable and measurable medium. It offers clients the opportunity to target very precise audiences, with very relevant content, at the most appropriate time.

However, digital advertising is still divided into two groups: brand advertising and performance advertising.

Brand advertising is primarily perceived as a method of creating awareness and starting a relationship with the consumer. Performance advertising, on the other hand, is viewed as a way to close the marketing loop through sales and other user-initiated actions, such as coupon codes, unique phone numbers, links, leads and app installs, among others.

When you consider the “fuzzy” goals of brand ads and the concrete objectives of performance ads, it's not surprising that advertisers have become accustomed to holding the former to a lower standard of accountability than the latter. But it is this very kind of thinking that needs to be a thing of the past.

Here’s why:

Mobile video’s new metrics

Mobile is now an integral part of the average consumer’s lifestyle, with 45 per cent of all screen time spent on mobile devices, pushing desktop and TV to the wayside. As a result, mobile video is now in high demand and is the fastest growing digital format—a key driver of growth for the digital advertising ecosystem.

While television, print ads, and standard display ads have their place in a company’s overall advertising strategy, relying solely on traditional metrics (impressions, clickthroughs) is no longer safe. Consumers now have far shorter attention spans and are approached by brands at many different touchpoints, so the pressure is on to capture their attention with an engaging medium (video) and on a highly personal device (mobile). The industry as a whole must focus on metrics that truly drive brand performance, and those are key performance indicators (KPIs) that show post-click engagement. Video completion rates are just the start; soon we will see emphasis on interactions within or beyond those videos that demonstrate true engagement.

InstantPlay allows for no-buffer HD video ads on mobile, increasing completion rates by 2.5X and engagement rates by 5X the industry average, respectively.

The big data tidal wave

Asia–Pacific currently boasts more than a billion smartphone users, and this number is expected to rise to more than 2 billion by 2020. This not only provides brands and marketers with access to a powerful advertising medium, it enables deeper audience targeting and effective programmatic buying. That is, as the volume of mobile users increases, the amount of data available for advertisers’ use will as well.

Audience targeting enabled by big data can be one of the most powerful tools for brands to exponentially increase the effectiveness of their campaigns.

For instance, AskMeBazaar, a well-known e-commerce site in India, wanted to establish its portal as the leading destination for online shopping by offering specific products to consumers based on their preferences. Working with my company, the brand delivered a tailored message to every consumer every time they went online, based on browsing data. That meant over 1,500 creative versions delivered each week, with a total of 200 campaigns across multiple specific audience segments to match 34 categories of relevant products. This targeting and customisation resulted in more than 3,800 sales per day and over 260,000 unique transactions—80 per cent of which were done on mobile.

Delivering specific ad content based on audience data can ensure high consumer engagement, resulting not only in higher brand awareness but also sales results.

Rise of m-commerce

Total e-commerce sales in 2015 topped $300 billion, and Forrester has predicted total m-commerce transactions to jump to $142 billion this year from $115 billion in 2015. By 2020, mobile devices will account for 48 per cent of e-commerce sales.

As mobile devices become more sophisticated and vendors of location technology emerge, advertisers are beginning to get hyper-local and to experiment with in-store marketing—promoting specific items or sending push notifications.

We are now at a critical point, where we have to think beyond brand awareness and customer acquisition and shift our attention to conversions—making it easier for customers to complete their journey to purchase—and retention, or building brand loyalty and post-sales engagement that will create deeper lifetime value.

As you can see brand advertising and performance advertising are not mutually exclusive. As mobile video, big data and m-commerce become more prominent, advertisers must move away from the old ways of buying media to maximise the ROI of their digital investment. Brand performance advertising is not only the new era of advertising, it’s the new era of doing business online.

Vikas Gulati is managing director of Opera Mediaworks Asia


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