There’s no excuse for being digital wallpaper


The central lesson to be learnt from this month’s Digital Strategy supplement is the need to make your online display budget work harder. This month’s edition is packed full of inspiring case studies and hard data demonstrating the impact online display advertising can have on your business.

The immediately quantifiable nature of digital disciplines like search and affiliate marketing has meant display advertising often feels like the poor relation online. However innovation in areas like social media, analytics and online video are making investment in display advertising essential.

Turn to page 55 for some startling proof of this. As with so many brands, insurer Hiscox had been allocating the lion’s share of its online budget to search – 60/40 over display. Digging deeper with analytics, it discovered display had a huge impact post impression. It’s now transformed its budget 80:20 in favour of display and already slashed its cost per acquisition by 32%.

Video will be a crucial driver of online, with click-through rates as high as 15%. But get it wrong and you could end up with only 15 views for £750,000 campaign…

Our peer panel feature on online display proves that innovation and experimentation is essential. In a telling quote, RSA Group chief marketing officer Pete Markey says, on page 61: “Online advertising is wallpaper to a lot of people”. Run a generic online banner campaign and you’ll fade into this background. Instead, Markey saw half a million views for a ’mini movie’ ad on YouTube.

Indeed, video will be a crucial driver for the growth of online display. Brands need to navigate the exploding array of options for running video ads, from TV broadcasters’ online efforts to less obvious video destinations like AOL and Grazia. The stakes here are high.

Get it right and you could see click-through rates as high as 15%, according to Channel 4’s Ed Couchman. Get it wrong and you could end up with only 15 views for a £750,000 video campaign.

Personalisation is a key driver for the evolution of display advertising picked out by our peer panel and it’s this type of targeting that is central to social media marketing. Especially the use of data available through the social graph. As we explain in our innovation update feature on page 45, many businesses, by restricting their view of social media to a few tweets or a Facebook page, are missing out. Brands like American Express are using the social graph to tailor communications to customers based on how they interact across all social spaces online. Targeting based on multiple layers of social interaction is critical. Our case study on VisitBritain on page 46 finds the company growing the number of people who ’Liked’ its Facebook page from 126,173 to 255,751 in a seven-day campaign by targeting friends of friends using Facebook’s Sponsored Stories.

Finally, this month’s Strategic Play, on page 40, shows French Connection making use of all these innovations to drive online revenue. Online display is a core plank to any online strategy but true success will only come from experimentation and innovation. Don’t fade into the wallpaper.

Justin Pearse, editor, new media age

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