Using digital advertising to deliver brand outcomes


Digital media is important for delivering brand outcomes and positively influencing long-term growth, but there are a number of factors at play to ensure a successful campaign.

For decades, marketers have used traditional channels such as print, radio, TV and outdoor advertising to reach consumers and build their brand. It’s an accepted fact that digital channels have disrupted marketing and advertising, and are now core to delivering brand outcomes as well as driving sales. From 15-second video ads in publisher content streams to connected TV advertising, digital video is fast becoming the marketer’s choice of engaging consumers.

IAB Europe’s recent annual Attitudes to Digital Video Advertising report highlights that buyers see digital video as a key channel for brand building and driving sales. The study found that nearly 60% of advertisers are investing in digital video to build their brand or gain competitive advantage, whilst 40% of agencies invest to tell brand stories. It is no surprise, then, that in 2019 digital video experienced growth of 29% to account for a third of all display advertising in Europe (source: IAB Europe AdEx Benchmark 2019 Report).

The Attitudes study also demonstrates a continued trend towards cross-media planning meaning that digital video is no longer only a secondary touchpoint to TV but a key channel in the planning and buying process. In fact, the way digital video advertising is bought and sold mirrors that of TV, typically a brand building medium, with the majority of video inventory traded via direct buys.

How do we know that digital advertising is an effective tool for delivering brand outcomes?

In 2018, IAB UK undertook a meta-analysis across multiple research suppliers to understand how effective digital campaigns are. An analysis of 675 campaigns showed that digital display advertising raises unaided brand awareness by up to 12% (vs. controls), positively shifts brand perceptions and drives purchase intent.

Indeed, Kantar’s CrossMedia data, based on 1,200 campaigns, shows that online display continues to generate impact across all brand metrics. However, as Kristanne Roberts, global development director – brand lift insights at Kantar, writes, in order to succeed, digital campaigns need to be tailored carefully across display vs video and desktop vs mobile formats, and they also need to be customised to specific media environments. Further research from Kantar shows that digital ads (online video, online display and Facebook) contribute 15% towards brand awareness compared to radio which contributes 7% or OOH contributing 8%.

A recent case study from Nielsen also demonstrated the effectiveness of newer forms of digital communication, specifically influencer marketing. Lucozade Energy managed to increase its brand relevance by 8% and its brand perceptions by 25% using an influencer marketing campaign (based on Nielsen’s Influencer Brand Effect insights).

The power of creative

Performance of any advertising varies considerably based on the quality of the creative and this is no different for digital. While the best ads can have a very strong impact on brand metrics, poorly branded or dull creative units can result in campaigns which have no statistically significant impact on brand metrics.

The key creative determinants of digital brand impact include branding, likeability, distinctiveness and relevance. Optimising creatives for specific media placements such as social platform in-feed environments generally improves performance.

The importance of measurement

Whilst marketing has become infinitely more measurable with the growing importance of digital, the question of what to measure has become increasingly complex. In order to quantify the impact digital has on brand outcomes, it is vital that campaigns are measured effectively but knowing what to measure can be a perplexing question.

The IAB Europe Digital Advertising Effectiveness Measurement Framework provides a set of harmonised definitions, measures and metrics in three key areas of digital advertising effectiveness measurement: media, brand and sales effectiveness. For brand effectiveness, the framework lists the following as key measures for evaluating the effect digital campaigns have on delivering brand outcomes:

  • Was brand awareness positively impacted?
  • What was the ad recall rate (aided and unaided)?
  • Was brand equity positively impacted?
  • Has brand differentiation been achieved?
  • Was purchase intent positively impacted?
  • Has brand favourability been achieved?
  • Was brand trust positively impacted?

Ensuring contextual relevance

To make digital advertising as effective as possible, advertisers need to ensure their ads are placed in contextually relevant, high quality environments. This can be done by adopting a brand suitability strategy.

As an example, Disneyland Paris worked with Oracle Data Cloud to implement a brand suitable approach by specifically aligning its brand with travel and family content, whilst also applying curated custom brand safety segments to protect Disney from brand-unsuitable content and environments. This resulted in a 2.5x reduction in CPA across their campaigns and a 200% increase in conversions.

Research from Integral Ad Science highlights that advertising alongside positive headlines generates the most favourable response; consumers in the UK would be 2.5x more favourable towards a brand and consumers in Germany 2.4x more favourable if their ads appeared next to positive headlines.

Placing ads in low quality environments also has consequences. More than 90% of consumers in Spain, Italy and France find it annoying when a brand appears next to low quality content according to the further research from IAS.

Digital advertising is an important channel for delivering brand outcomes and positively influencing a brand’s long-term growth but there are a number of factors at play to ensure a successful campaign: compelling creative, relevant context, measurable KPIs, appropriate channel and format to reach the target audience and effective measurement.

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