Digital Channels Blur the Line

If you think online media is simply for driving consumer response, think again. A new study from market research firm TNS and digital marketing firm Eyeblaster concludes that the digital era is blurring the line between channels designed for branding and those that trigger consumer action.
The study, based on a worldwide survey of 400 marketing executives involved in branding, advertising and media buying and selling, was conducted in March.
“The common misconception among marketers is that brands are built offline and response is driven online,” the study contends. However, data from the survey suggests that “all media channels share a dual role: brand and response.”
In effect, said Dean Donaldson, digital experience strategist at Eyeblaster, with digital “creeping across the media landscape the line between online and offline is becoming very blurred. It’s no longer either/or with respect to branding versus response. All channels will do both.”
That said, some channels may do a little more of one than the other. For example, respondents to the survey indicated they believed display ads across traditional and digital media are predisposed towards branding over response. Online display in particular is considered five times more effective as a branding channel than a response channel.

Per the survey results, perhaps the best pure branding channel is gaming, cited by 65 percent of respondents as being so. That compares to 38 percent who cited outdoor and 26 percent who cited TV as a pure branding vehicle.
“Marketers see a benefit of using display to support brand building on online as well as on mobile channels, especially through use of the rich media [interactive display],” said Don Ryan, vp, technology and media at TNS.  “It speaks to this notion of media neutrality.”
Others also agreed that most channels increasingly would be used in a dual branding/response role. “That makes sense absolutely,” said Sue Moseley, worldwide director of research and futures at Interpublic Group’s Initiative. “Our research doesn’t disagree with that notion at all.”
Marketers even use mobile channels (WAP and other Web-enabled services) in dual brand/response roles, according to the TNS-Eyeblaster survey. Fifty percent of respondents use such channels for that purpose.
While measurement is the top reason marketers use digital media, respondents cited ROI, engagement and interaction rate as more important forms of digital marketing metrics compared to click-through. “Therefore it is no longer true that one media channel can be seen as a purely branding vehicle or response vehicle,” the study concludes.
Separately, the survey found that marketers anticipate sizable growth in digital marketing expenditures over the next two years. Overall growth in each of the next two years is expected to be 30 percent, with a third of the market experiencing growth of more than 50 percent in each of the next years.

Nielsen Business Media