Online can boost brand health

Keiron Matthews, marketing director at the Internet Advertising Bureau, discusses how the body’s Engage conference this week uncovered new ways that online can help to keep brands feeling fresh, fit and healthy.

Keiron Matthews
Keiron Matthews

If the recession has taught us anything, it’s that brands have to rely on the survival of the fittest philosophy. At the Internet Advertising Bureau we’re trying to make that a reality and that’s why we’ve really focused on brand health and keeping fit at our fifth annual Engage conference that was held in London this week.

The internet has become arguably the strongest means of communication in the last year and while is it easy to complain about brands doing a better job than you online, the truth is that internet advertising is fundamental to keeping a brand healthy.

Consumers are online in their masses. They are using it for all different types of purposes and on all sorts of devices. Some companies are still suggesting that they can’t do digital, or don’t know how to measure digital. I challenge them – why not actually get off your arse and do something about it? Be inspired by some of the fittest brands who have got into the habit of being lean, nimble and strong.

Of course, there is no panacea. You can’t simply say do this and aim to see a mass of lost consumers coming back to the brand, but rather it’s about showing your brand as one that meets customer expectations and gives them a reason to want to associate with them. It’s important that this is a two-way relationship, one that gives the consumer a feeling that they have a stake in the brand and should want to get involved in decisions as soon as possible, whilst also being a loyal customer.

Marketers and agencies often face arguments over who has their head stuck in the clouds, or even who has a single-minded approach. But with signs of an economic recovery on the way, and a more blatant digital revolution coming up, brands have to get back in shape and quick. Complacency has been around too long and it needs addressing.

This can’t be based on random guesses or second-guessing what the consumer might want. It’s about taking the time to find out what the customer likes, where they are likely to spend, how to engage with them – basically identifying common talking points that create a culture of embedded loyalty.

It’s all about taking that knowledge and applying it into an integrated mix, recognising that consumers use different media at different times and adapting messaging to fit across platforms at a time when they are likely to sit-up and pay attention.

The IAB is continuing to try to help expand awareness of capabilities of internet marketing as much as possible, and will continue to educate both marketers and consumers on the ways that technology can enable great things to help keep brands healthy.

Moving forward, it will all be about proving efficiency of online and brand advocacy. We reached a pivotal point this year where online advertising now accounts for 23.5% of all ad spend compared to TV’s 21.9%. It shows just how mature the industry is rapidly becoming and how much of an asset the online engagement can offer,

These ad spend figures show just how our media is being used comprehensively by advertisers and is opening doors.

We are seeing encouraging demonstrations of faith in online from some of the largest corporations and advertisers, as the medium continues to grow, and efforts to mature the capabilities and return on investment become ever more fascinating.

If you are an uncertain advertiser reading this and thinking should I give it a try? then my answer is sure, what have you got to lose. The pure engagement power alone is enough to really increase your brand health and be sure to make you stand out from an ever-crowded marketplace.

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