To date, branding has often been associated with billboards, magazine spreads and million-dollar TV spots. In online advertising, this translates to large media buys with premium publishers, including spots such as site sponsorships and homepage takeovers.
However, where do data and ad targeting fit into the branding equation? Is there a place for branding campaigns within the world of ad targeting and real-time media buying? The answer is yes.
Large brands such as Proctor & Gamble (P&G) and Unilever have already commented publicly about moving brand dollars to digital — crediting their shift in ad spend to the cost savings and ability to have more 1:1 conversations with target consumers.
Other brands, both large and small, will likely follow suit and spend more of their advertising budgets on digital. We have already started to see this trend come alive in search retargeting — especially as more brands begin to couple data with more engaging ad formats, such as rich media and online video.
The truth is, branding campaigns have an opportunity to tap into digital channels and take advantage of the data revolution, which we typically refer to as “targeted awareness.”
Let’s first begin by clearly defining the online world of branding, targeted awareness and direct response:
There are two distinct catalysts for brands choosing to integrate ad targeting into their online advertising strategy:
- Data: The rise of data has created an opportunity for marketers to couple data and media together. With an improved access to data, brands can now leverage search retargeting and behavioral ad targeting for their branding campaigns.
- Digital Innovation: The innovation behind digital display allows brands to reach consumers with high-impact advertising in real time. This includes the integration of online video, rich media and interactive ad formats with data intelligence.
How To Tame Targeted Advertising For A Brand Campaign
So, how can advertisers leverage targeted awareness for their branding campaigns? Targeted awareness is all about using data to complement branding initiatives.
For starters, there is a lot of content being consumed beyond the large publishers. With this in mind, when brands purchase site buys or sponsorships, it’s imperative that they also immediately consider ways to amplify their reach.
For example, a brand may choose to align with ESPN.com for sporting content. However, the same consumers who read and visit ESPN.com may also be found cruising sites such as nbcsports.com, allsports.com or menshealth.com.
To extend the scale beyond what a single publisher can offer, brands should consider purchasing access to audiences through ad exchanges in real-time. Doing so allows brands to reach and target consumers throughout their experiences across a multitude of publisher channels, and at a lower price.
Let’s take our example one step further and consider that Under Armour is running a large ad buy on ESPN.com. To augment their reach, Under Armour should consider additional ways to increase its media exposure amongst relevant audiences.
By leveraging data, Under Armour could target consumers who have previously searched for sports-related keywords or who have indicated interest in key categories such as sports and fitness.
One way to accomplish this strategy would be to purchase audiences and ad placements on remnant inventory via the ad exchanges. Such ads might be video, standard banners or rich media — and could re-direct consumers to Under Armour’s larger media buy on ESPN.com or to a specific landing page for the brand.
Measuring Branding Success
Another key component to consider when running a targeted awareness campaign is measurement. Measurement for branding campaigns might be based on clicks, driving new traffic to the brand’s website, site activity or ad engagement.
Before testing targeted awareness, marketers must define their goals and work with their partner on the best targeting strategy for the campaign. A great way to test if a campaign has performed well in the targeted awareness bucket is to conduct a short-term brand study, through which you are able to measure brand lift. Companies like Vizu and comScore are great partners to consider for brand studies.
Ultimately, times are changing and brands now have many more options when moving ad dollars to digital. Ad targeting, real-time media buying and data are no longer just for performance campaigns — brands do have a place within the targeting arena.
With this in mind, consider how ad targeting can magnify your brand’s exposure and strengthen reach amongst relevant audiences for your next branding campaign.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.