Maturing online disciplines offer myriad meeting points for brand and consumer

At the IAB we have the exciting job of representing the industry in all aspects of online advertising, from e-mail to search, affiliates, display, e-commerce and, more recently, IPTV, social networks and mobile. In fact, the list is so extensive that I could use this 500-word introduction to wax lyrical about them all. However, this wealth of communications tools cannot be solely attributed to agencies springing up and inventing them. A majority, if not all, have been inspired by the consumer.

Of course, consumers do not go online to engage with advertising – they do so purely to communicate, research, be entertained and often purchase. Just with TV and other traditional media, you don’t switch on to see the latest ad or flick to page eight of your magazine because there is a DPS for the new Volkswagen. This is what makes the job of the marketer consistently challenging.

Due to the sheer diversity of online, this challenge is exacerbated as brands try to engage with consumers at the point of browsing. There is no question that the 40% rise in ad spend year on year is an absolute reflection of brands trying to do just that, however there remain many barriers to growth. If consumers are spending more time searching, e-mailing, instant messaging, buying, comparing, watching and listening – the list goes on – it is disappointing that brands are still just dipping their toes into the proverbial waters of one or two online disciplines… “Some search, a bit of e-mail and a couple of rich media ads and I’ve cracked the online element of my campaign” is more akin to the traditional methodologies of media planning and buying, historically largely determined by budgets. Assign adequate budgets to all the media touchpoints presented within the pages of this supplement, to consider your target audience, and your exposure will far exceed the six-week campaign you could afford otherwise.

That is not to say that online is exclusive to other media channels. The internet is as much a part of consumers’ lives as TV, print and radio, so planning media in isolation needs to be a strategic decision and certainly not a given. We no longer need to simply shout our message at consumers, using carpet-bombing tactics via individual channels. What we need to see is relevant dialogue with them throughout the day. Forget about taking your brand to consumers, let them come to you. Search marketing is possibly the most obvious example of this, but the theory can apply to all forms of marketing communication.

The contents of this supplement should therefore inspire you to re-evaluate the process of consumer engagement, and to spread those budgets to give you a more sustained and holistic brand presence. Care should be taken that these disciplines are not regarded as short term fads, or bandwagons to be jumped upon. Here we are talking about established disciplines that are constantly maturing and demanding more of our attention and time. This fact alone is enough to at least ask the question, “Could I be doing more online?” 

Kieron Matthews
Head of marketing

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