Art & Commerce: Equity Stakes

He is also the founder of KSL’s newest
division, Drive to Site Media, which serves Internet companies.
It takes more than a Super Bowl spot to build a brand
Thanks to the bullish digital economy, “get me on the air” is a common cry voiced by Web marketers. This mandate forces media departments to sacrifice long-term brand equity strategies for short-term awareness goals, and sound media disciplines are being forsaken for last-minute planning and buying. It’s no longer get it right–it’s get it right now.
Since an overwhelming number of new dot-coms desire brand awareness and express confidence in their sites, they believe in a “build it and they will come” philosophy. Unfortunately, this rush to the marketplace has blurred the lines between brand awareness and brand equity.
Awareness is accomplished with a formula of heavy spending, in a short time, behind a memorable creative message. Equity is not easily attained but will be more meaningful for the advertiser in the long run. Brand equity is earned, not bought. Equity is the consumers’ perception of brand value and relevance to their needs, which can only be instilled by adherence to proven marketing disciplines. Brand awareness is the first step in achieving brand equity, and it alone generally does not convert into a brand’s success.
The mistake of confusing awareness with equity was apparent over the past six months, which saw many of the new dot-coms failing to meet expectations. In fact, many of these disappointing performances jeopardized second-round venture-capital financing, or even public offerings.
These Web sites were intent on creating broadscale awareness through creative and media platforms that were not in synch. They relied on a business/media model that prioritized reach and immediacy at the expense of creating effective levels of communication.
It’s difficult to adhere to sound marketing and media disciplines when venture capitalists and ad agencies are gravitating to glitz and the unorthodox. Spending more than $2 million for a 30-second unit during the Super Bowl is sinful if it’s not part of an overall media strategy that builds brand equity. Moreover, the cluttered Web site advertising arena dictates a smarter, more pragmatic approach to overcome consumer confusion, skepticism and resistance to trial. Creating a sense of urgency and need goes beyond generating brand awareness.
Media is generally a Web site’s largest marketing expense; now, it’s being held accountable for every
dollar, as measured by visits, page views, sales, etc. The days of unjustified spending and irreverence are over. It doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity; just not the pointless, unbridled variety.
In today’s dot-com world, accountability is the Holy Grail. Remember: We’re now developing brands in Internet time, which means we’re virtually creating them overnight. To ensure the success of these new businesses, sound media planning and judgments must be made in conjunction with, or even before, creative considerations. Creative may generate awareness, but strategic media messaging creates brand equity.