The Digital Brand Advertising Maturity Model: Phase 1 -“TV on the Internet”

A lot of big brands are still trying to figure out digital marketing. They are taking a hodge-podge approach to their efforts, with a little bit here (SEM), and little bit there (their website) and maybe a little excitement dashed in (their facebook presence/twitter stream). But, before big, mass market brands can truly wrap their heads around the concept of being "modern brands", they should get comfortable with what they are doing with basic web display advertising. That is, "TV on the Internet".

TV on the Internet

Big, slow, classic mass-market brands have built their whole marketing model around TV. Their planning calendar is driven by their TV buying and TV production cycles, delivering "campaigns" that are like carpet bombs of 30 second tv spots. Their research tools, processes, and partners are designed to deliver the one true "insight" that will make a great TV spot. The creative messaging is driven and shaped by all the tools they use to conceptualize, vet, test and create their TV spots. The marketers and researchers there have built – literally- whole careers on being great at managing and guiding these processes, blending, when it's done well, the science of marketing and the art of advertising together to create breakthrough work that infiltrates our culture. Via TV.

It's a big, well oiled machine that we all take for granted, and we assume, because the machine has always worked so well, that it will also output great digital marketing. But it can't create great digital marketing. Because it was designed.for.creating.TV. That doesn't means the digital marketing that comes out of this systems is bad. It's just not what digital marketing could be.

Before brands shoot for "great", it's worth understanding what "good" looks like. Here are the characteristics of digital campaigns that are "TV on the Internet":

  • A single, broad target – Typically, defined by demographics, like "Moms with kids in the house, 30-55".
  • Key Objective: Awareness – These campaigns are really very much like TV, in that they are  designed to deliver an impression. And that's pretty much it. All the cool interactive stuff that you can do online? Clicks, conversions, online ad driven actions don't really matter in these campaigns.
  • Creative: Persuasion – The goal of the creative is to persuade and change attitudes, not drive action.
  • Campaigns: The campaigns tend to flow at the same rhythm as TV; run for a couple months, and then go dark.
  • Media: "Set it and Forget it" – These campaigns don't get optimized when they run. They are planned and run and aren't really optimized that much over the course of the campaign. 
  • Media: Focus on Reach – Like TV, the main objective of the media buy is almost always to maximize the number of people reached by the message. The placement – where the creative runs – is important, but generally, reach is favored over relevance.
  • Measurement: Offline impact – These campaigns don't measure impact by what happens online.  Like all ad efforts, the most value is placed on what happens offline. Cash register rings. Sales in the big box, or the market, or the retail outlet. 
  • Learning Cycles – The learning cycles of "TV on the Internet" campaigns, as far as i've seen, tend to be like an annual cycle. The iteration and learning cycles tend to be six to eight (or up to 12 months). 

 But, while digital marketers might scoff at these campaigns, they work for marketers for a couple important reasons:

  • They are relatively easy to manage – Agencies and marketers can work and execute these campaigns pretty easily, assuming the marketers don't try to over-work the banners.
  • They work – A lot marketers are finding that banners work well. At the very least, they drive brand metrics. But, they also drive sales offline, too. 
  • They are predictable – Brands can these campaigns pretty easily, and they are getting more and more predictable in their ability to drive results. 

These aren't the sexiest digital campaigns. You'll never see these on the front cover of AdAge. But, these campaigns can form the foundation of great brand-building efforts. They can drive regular results, can be pretty predictable, and can provide marketers with "ground cover" to do more, innovative, and more interesting things.

But, "Modern Brands" should be providing more than advertising, more than their own message. That's the next phase in the maturity of digital brand marketers. 

Next up: PHase 2- Data Driven Brand Marketers

 

 

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