With the prevalence of various web analytics and ad tracking software, the effectiveness of online ads has been under serious scrutiny. Asian marketers move from solely looking at impressions and clicks, to another extreme of focusing only on their return on advertising spending (ROAS) and forsake the traditional marketing concepts of brand favourability, brand trust and likelihood to purchase.
In recent months, I have witnessed clients in Asia-Pacific challenging the pricing models of online media vendors and request agencies to move to a performance based model such as cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
While the trend of using more accountable online media channels in Asia-Pacific is laudable, there is a disconnection between how offline and online media channels’ effectiveness are being evaluated.
Marketers are comfortable with the assumption that offline media help build brand awareness, which is less tangible and harder to quantify, despite their media cost being more expensive.
On the contrary, since online media is measurable, it should be subject to stricter evaluations based on their effectiveness in driving ROI-based conversions. In reality, regardless of being online or offline, all media channels should be evaluated based on their effectiveness in building brand awareness and driving direct conversions.
A study just released by iProspect US and Com Score tries to demystify this misnomer by looking at how mere exposure to display, organic and paid search results produces brand lift.
Results from the research presents the hypothesis that digital media helps improve brand value. Specifically, a combination of display advertising, paid search, together with favourable organic search results rankings, can create a synergy effect in lifting brand favourability.
In particular, a combination of high organic ranking and paid search advertising can drive significant increase in unaided brand recall (35 per cent), brand favourability (40 per cent), brand trust (50 per cent), and likelihood to purchase (73 per cent). Online display advertising is most effective in driving brand life when used in conjunction with organic or paid search engine results.
Though it would be ideal to replicate the same study in Asia-Pacific, the research helps shed some light on digital advertising effectiveness on five specific industry verticals, namely retail, software, banking/finance, hotels, and insurance. Asian markets should take these findings into consideration when determining which combinations of digital media should be used.
In the retail category, display advertising is most effective in driving unaided brand recall (40 per cent) and lifting brand favourability (35 per cent), while paid search impressions can improve the likelihood to purchase (54 per cent).
In banking/ financial services, a combination of organic and display advertising is most effective in lifting brand trust (44 per cent) and likelihood to purchase (64 per cent).
In the hotel industry, the combination of organic and paid search impressions are the most powerful duo, which can help improve unaided brand recall (67 per cent), brand favourability (56 per cent), likelihood to purchase (147 per cent), and brand trust (83 per cent).
In the insurance vertical, it seems that organic search impressions are the most effective in lifting unaided brand recall (46 per cent) and likelihood to purchase (150 per cent).