I believe that they can. Actually, I believe that brand and response should work together. At first glance, brand advertising and direct response appear to be diametrically opposed to each other. For example, let's take television. Brand advertising looks for high profile spots with lots of added value and measures their success, not on sales, but on the broadcast or cable network's ability to deliver the rating points negotiated. Think 60 Minutes or Survivor while DRTV (direct response television) purchases Daytime rotators and Late Night. Direct response looks to measure the response generated down to the individual spot, and because of this, often purchases broad rotators with low unit rates in order to provide the lowest cost per. The term "cost per" means cost per lead, order, submit or lifetime value, depending on how deep you go into the sales funnel. Buyers purchase primetime for brand and daytime for DRTV. When you get into the media trenches you see how these two have trouble mixing together.
But when carefully crafted a brand response campaign becomes greater than each individual piece. Brand and response alone may actually struggle. When married together, brand provides brand lift or a brand halo to the hard-working DRTV, while the hard working DRTV increases phone calls and visits to your website. Together, brand and response advertising results in greater sales and, I would argue, a longer shelf life for some DRTV products and services.
A cautionary note: moving from a pure brand into brand response is relatively easy; moving from pure DRTV program into a brand response campaign takes guts. The reason it takes guts is because of the way in which brand advertising behaves. Brand builds slowly over time, thus taking time to create that halo effect which improves your DRTV results. If you measure brand against a DRTV metric it will always lose.
I worked on one campaign in the online travel sector that actually "turned the light on brand" while at the same time running a combination of brand and DRTV. While weekly tracking is common in Europe, we tend to embrace the "dip your toe into the brand water" every 6 months at best. In this case we actually tracked weekly brand and ad awareness metrics concurrent with our traditional DRTV metrics. When we turned off the campaign we expectantly saw an immediate and severe drop-off in leads, but we surprisingly saw only a gradual reduction in brand and ad awareness in the form of a curve that lasted almost 2 months. When we went back on air a few months later, our DRTV cost pers were significantly higher when compared to prior year until we saw our ad awareness and brand awareness metrics return to their high level. Once we had re-established our brand strength, then and only then were our DRTV costs back to what we had wanted.
In this particular case we employed both brand television and national print to establish our branding and DRTV activity to deliver low priced results. We still held the brand television accountable but to a much higher cost per compared with DRTV and we optimized both.
I'm hard pressed to think of clients, especially brand clients, that wouldn't want more activity on their website or more calls into their call center. By employing both methods of engagement you increase results yet keep your marketing costs in check.
Prior to embarking out on her own Susan Rowe held the position of Senior Partner, Managing Director within the Digital and Performance Marketing media practice for Ogilvy Neo in New York and Chicago (Feb 07 - July 08). Her charge was to oversee Performance Marketing for a number of high profile clients, including Allstate, Investools, TD Ameritrade, Select Comfort and Six Flags. She was also responsible for leading NeoVideo, the video unit that works with new forms of video on TV and online. She was selected to be part of a Google TV's first panel primarily for her work in development of ground breaking research with Google TV on the effect of attentiveness on response. Susan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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