There was a time, 15 – 20 years ago or more, when media plans consisted of distinct media, each with a life of its own. The only connection they had was their relative impact on TRPs, reach and frequency. If there was one media that appeared to be too expensive, you simple asked where you could make up the TRPs. Perhaps this is a bit of a simplification, but not much. The challenge in today’s environment is that, too often, digital media is viewed through a very similar lens.
When planning digital media, there is a disconnect between the channels. Search budgets are allocated irrespective of display, email is treated independent of social (if there is a social component) and offline activities are seldom weighed when planning online efforts. What the traditional planning process misses is the inherent integration of all these aspects, whether it is intended and managed, or not. It goes beyond leveraging synergies. By ‘disconnecting’ these channels, you run the real risk of undermining their inherent value.
Not too long ago, there was an argument that leveraging the synergies of the digital channels was the sole purview of the national advertiser. With the advances in our understanding of consumers, and the capabilities of technology, this is no longer the case. Consumers are fine-tuning their own experiences on the web and mobile to target localized content. Between geo targeted ad delivery on the internet, re-marketing technology, and GPS enabled mobile devises, local businesses have as much at stake, and opportunity, with integration as do the national advertisers; perhaps more. With each channel, such as display, social or mobile, we can see the connections between channels.
The fact is, people don’t often click on display ads. But, it would be a mistake to assume that this means display is not effective. People who are exposed to display ads, will search for the company or product in the search engines, or type the company website into their browser. In fact, according to a ComScore study [http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Presentations_Whitepapers/2008/How_Online_Advertising_Works_Whither_The_Click] there is a 45.7% lift in site visits as a result of exposure to display ads over a 4 week period. If you are not managing your search campaign in synergy with display, you’ll not only miss opportunities, but you’ll also make false attributions. Your search campaign needs to highlight keywords, ad copy and landing pages that are directly related to the display ads. One of the most dangerous pitfalls in online advertising is creating experiences that diverge from consumer expectations. If your display ads set up expectations that are not experienced through your search, you’ll lose the customer. Unfortunately, when not integrating the two, you’re likely to assume the search campaign stumbled; not seeing the connection to the display program that initiated the search in the first place. By planning from an integrated approach, you’ll leverage the synergies and minimize the mistakes.
Social networks are growing and many consumers see this as the primary mode of communicating online. According to Neilsen [http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/global/led-by-facebook-twitter-global-time-spent-on-social-media-sites-up-82-year-over-year/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NielsenWireOnlineMobile+%28Nielsen+Wire+%C2%BB+Online+%26+Mobile%29]
, the average user of social media has increased their time in the space by 143%. In total, Americans are spending 210% more time on social networks than a year ago. Email, offline, and even online display advertising can all leverage the power of social media by providing customers with an easy way to become a fan or a follower. Of course, you’ll need to give people a reason. For small businesses, using the social networks can drive customers to the store, running time sensitive offers; Inventory can be moved with very targeted messaging; create unique content messaging to niche areas of your customer base. One click from an email, or a display ad, or visit driven by in-store POS can be the start of long relationship with customers. But, it can only happen if you seen the connections between the different media.
Every year it seems like we have more reasons to believe we live in a world of change. Over 2009 and moving quickly into 2010, mobile has exerted itself as a true medium for non-phone two way digital communication. Google is aggressively pushing forward [http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2010/02/take-your-places-and-searches-to-go.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OfficialGoogleMobileBlog+%28Official+Google+Mobile+Blog%29&utm_content=Google+Reader] with integrating online and mobile experiences so users can research at their desktop and have the same information available on their mobile. While display advertising is still nascent, location based searches are growing strong. So, you have to managed your location information online. If you don’t, users can easily receive old or even entirely wrong information about your business. Understanding how your address and phone number are managed online is key to developing successful mobile experiences – the two are very connected. Search marketing has also evolved to present click-to-call phone numbers as well as URLs. Facebook and twitter have mobile services that let people take the social network with them wherever they are. On the mobile platform, we are seeing the convergence of location information, search, social and display advertising. If you don’t manage the integration of your digital advertising, consumers could very easily have 3, 4 or even more very different experiences with your business, all on the same 3 inch screen.
Integration, and targeted advertising, are available to businesses of every size. I’ve only highlighted a few examples of the inter-connectedness of digital advertising. All are within the control of small and medium size businesses. Whether you take the reins directly, or have an agency handle the heavy lifting for you, make 2010 the year you decide to integrate your digital marketing efforts.