“What does a successful digital campaign look like?”
This is one of those questions you get asked on a daily basis and my usual answer is: a successful digital campaign should challenge and favourably evolve people’s perceptions of a brand and strengthen their relationship with it. Sometimes this means drip-feeding bespoke and appropriate, ownable content and functionality in small and frequent evolutions rather than doing everything at once. The consumer benefit and takeout might be to help and enhance experience through rewards and utility, or the campaign could aim to affect the culture we operate in but either way it should aspire to be a longer term, longer lasting impact endeavour rather than a short term initiative or awareness spike.
It is about then that the practical cynic in me kicks the evangelist in the arse and says “how do you measure that, what’s the ROI?”
Whether a campaign is brand or direct response led it is important to establish and agree KPIs use these to measure success. Digital campaigns are uniquely measurable but not all measures are equal and indicate true effectiveness.
Traditional digital measures of effectiveness such as Click Through Rates (CTR), Open Rates, Page Views and Dwell Time are an important base for measuring ROI but they are a starting point. The whole consumer journey should be considered and tracked. Search, SEO and video search optimisation performance measurement and tagging should underpin all digital activity: especially as digital marketing evolves beyond “marketing web”, linear campaigns built around self-contained websites, and becomes more about distributed digital conversations.
Getting a deeper and more insightful picture is vital – especially in the more established (or par for the course) areas such as online advertising.
In terms of online advertising two traditional metrics that are often used as KPIs are CTR and Sale, however, these metrics should not be the start and the finish of defining campaign success. Prior to CTR it is important to measure or research Audience Mindset, Exposures, Relevancy Of Message and Interaction rates; equally between CTR and Sale it is important to consider and measure Landing Page visits, Clarity Of Offer and Ease Of Datacapture. Understanding these aspects of a campaign will define effectiveness and allow for optimisation of the entire consumer journey. Indeed through the use of Spotlight tags and other tools we can define the wider ROI of a digital campaign more accurately in terms of Cost Per Sale (i.e. including sales that are not attributed to straight clicks), Persuasion Rate (Increases in other channels’ sales off the back of campaign activity e.g. interactions with rich media driving search volume) and Cost per Acquisition.
This shows that the success of a direct digital campaign is perhaps more accurately measured through analysing Conversion Rate rather than Click Through Rate. As Eyeblaster put it: a low or high CTR often does not necessarily correlate with a campaign’s overall objectives. Conversion rate provides a more accurate measurement of success and by focusing on CTR alone, we are sometimes missing 2.5x the actual data we need to analyze the overall consumer journey”.
While these measurements provide greater insight into the ROI of more direct or acquisition led campaigns it is important to consider the wider brand and advocacy success of a digital campaign, especially as campaigns evolve to become distributed conversations in the social arena. ROI and success can be measured in these areas as well via metrics like Net Promoter Score and Sentiment Tracking.
In short, how do we measure fans – the people who will decide whether our campaigns and brands become part of culture?
And this is what I plan to explore in the next post… Social Media ROI and the spectrum of online relationships
In the next phase of the recession there is going to be even more pressure for blunt, back to basics messaging.
Much online advertising is already crammed to bursting with USPs and “brand essences”, proof points and CTA keyframes but it is often the phatic element – the charm, the entertainment, the engagement and the smile – that means a brand actually connects. While this may seem to pander to some marketing director’s belief that we’re all frustrated artists or 15 second Cecil B De Milles (god bless the Art Director job title for this & years of confused looks at parties before my girlfriend jumped in with “he’s in IT”) it remains true that it is the best stories that you remember and want to tell other people.
And this is even more so online where you can’t force anyone to do anything. People are more than happy not to click on your banner ad and visit your flash microsite. Be honest – they really don’t care about your brand as much as you do. We need to make them interested and then make them care. Once again the new economic reality means we have to resist the pressure to art direct the brief.
I’m not saying we should cram our comms work with the digital equivalent of Pinteresque dialogue (loading bars anyone?) or big budget After Effects heavy video, but in a post “age of excess” world the smart brands can provide people with the entertainment and rewards that they used to pay for themselves.
I believe it is Brand Reality Creative that provides the perfect bridge between the important phatic entertainment and brand story AND vital real world reward and social currency.
Interactive creative must provide a framework that people can use to make their own magic/tell their own stories and balance “doing stuff for the brand” with “doing stuff for people”. We need to combine story and utility in a way that can affect the real world while reflecting the fragmented nature of the real web (not the marketing web). This means that online advertising needs to be less advertising and more entertaining applications and shareable content in paid for places.
Only by achieving these goals can we prove the synergistic value of interactive creativity in the face of the recession.
I was asked to get involved with a Marketing Week article about online advertising the other day and it was going to be a debate about creativity in online advertising and whether it was burnt out. In the end a follow up chat on the mobile while dashing across a car park became part of this but I wanted to explore the more interesting original idea.
In terms of my pitch into the idea of “is online advertising creativity dead” or “is the medium dead”…
We currently have two strategies of approach to online advertising: Tactical+ and Brand Reality.
The key is not to let similar creative executions run across all sites – great results come from integrated creative placements so you need to achieve a closer relationship between creative strategy and media strategy. This is where Tactical+ creative for “Browsing site placements” come in – giving all the information people need but not taking someone out of their journey – but measurement KPIs have to shift towards interaction rates and post-impression clicks. The idea is to cut through the clutter and reward interaction by applying brand creative values to direct transactional executions.
This approach is the one we’ve taken for some Emirates work like:
Newcastle Timelapse – Newcastle campaign as a whole got 12million interactions 270% rate, but Timelapse had a 5% CTR from 900,000 impressions despite it having a very small click-thorough area and being in the mail section of MSN.
Or for the TfL Oyster iTunes campaign for Auto top-up:
You can put as much content and experience in a banner ad as you used to put in a micro-site and you get more of a brand impact by not asking user to leave the site they are on or interrupt what they are doing. Download free content, play games, take part in polls and watch videos without having to go anywhere and as these units become more consistent, people will be more ready to interact with them. But you have to push the engagement, creativity and design which is what we have done with some other Emirates work like the Ladybird Execution (http://emirates.chemdig2.co.uk) or:
Or even some of the campaigns I worked on at my previous agency for the Army, like Army on Everest (don’t get me started I’ll go on for hours).
Obviously you need strong CTAs and offer driven work for Affiliates to ensure take up (they aren’t and never will be interested in interaction KPIs) and you need to know when to be shallow – particularly on “transactional site placements”.
I see the long-term future of online advertising as Brand Reality Creative. Online advertising should be semantic windows on personally relevant content and live, real events and features. Interactive work is not interesting because it is digital, it is interesting because it provides a way for real people to connect and do things together – social networking was just the village pump on a global scale where we used social media and applications to present aspects of our real or imagined personalities. It is this reality and content that will be sought after and valued, and online advertising needs to evolve to account for this or else it will be filtered out and switched off. It needs to be valuable in itself and get people closer to content and reality.
So I don’t think creativity is dead but it definitely needs to perk-up a bit. I think we need to stop the delusion that people leap out of their chair when they see an ad and actually try and make advertising useful instead.