Monday, June 13, 2011

Creating Brand Awareness on the Internet

In my last post I promised one more rant before I shut down for the summer—a continuation of my long-term campaign against awareness as an objective, on the Internet in general and in social media in particular.

I wrote about the issue two years ago in the context of metrics. At the time, it seemed quite reasonable to me that if you want to measure the accomplishments of Internet marketing programs you need to set behavioral objectives and collect the behavioral data to measure them. That still seems a perfectly logical argument to me, but it doesn’t make my point explicitly enough.

What I’ve seen in the interim is two-fold. First, endless students who tell me they want to create awareness (of their brand, presumably) in social media or on the web in general. I keep pointing out that it requires marketing research to measure awareness and that takes time and money. If people do something—register for your site, sign up for a newsletter, become a fan of your Facebook page, whatever—they are aware, aren’t they? Ok, the awareness and the behavior can be almost simultaneous, but the behavior is a manifestation of awareness. Not only that, any of the actions I suggested—and many others I can think of—put the marketer in a position to communicate further with the customer/prospect. That’s what I meant in the last post when I said that attitudinal awareness objectives on the Internet simply constitute leaving cards on the table. I like that phrase; it captures the foolishness of the way many marketers still approach the Internet.

The second think I’ve seen is practitioners setting awareness objectives even though I think they understand the argument for behavioral objectives. Behavioral objectives imply measurement. They know that the necessary marketing research to measure awareness objectives is unlikely to be done, hence no measurement. That constitutes hiding behind awareness as a hard-to-measure objective.

Actually, there is a third issue. Most of us have grown up practicing and teaching traditional mass media. That is still the mind set of most marketers. More so older ones, but also younger ones who should know better.

The lack of understanding of the fallacy of awareness on the Internet often leads to a major strategic error. It especially shows up in something like “we want to create awareness in social media.” The question is how do you get people to your social pages in the first place? They have to be aware before they initially visit the page and sign up to be your fan. How do you create the level of awareness and interest that gets them to your page or to your website? Oops, we hadn’t thought about that! Actually, what they often have not thought about is that it’s going to require some money to make this happen.

Yes, there is such a thing as social sharing and it can create awareness. A recent study from ShareThis and Starcom MediaVest suggests that social sharing can create substantial referral traffic. How many of the referrals are to customers who previously had no contact with the brand? That doesn’t seem to be a question the study, based on the ShareThis database, can answer. Actually, I’d like to see the entire study because I don’t understand some of the explanation in the blog. However, their data seems to make it clear that sharing is not likely to create viral content and that people only share in one or two content categories in which they are particularly interested or expert. The latter is what we’ve known about WOM in the physical world for a long time; the more things change, the more they stay the same!

I’d like to encourage you to think about this issue by doing some reading and listening. First, the Bain online branding study “In Search of a Premium Alternative” in which they point out the predominance of direct response ads on the Internet and decry the lack of online advertising alternatives that break through the clutter. Then you need to listen to Randall Rothenberg’s introductory speech to the “Future of Display Advertising” conference last week. He builds on the Bain study and recent announcement of new “Rising Stars” ad formats, designed to allow more creativity and impact in the online branding effort.

But don’t leave it at that. Take a look at the 6 new formats on the IAB site. Look at how many options they give for viewer behavior—from watch a video to download a mobile app—and everything in between. Again, the point is to encourage viewers to take action—action that can be measured. No need for awareness objectives here!!!


Anonymous said...

Thank you, useful information

angelosam123 said...

Really- very useful information provide in the blog...
Internet Marketing

Ozio Media said...

The first step anyone trying to increase brand awareness on the internet should take is to clearly define their objectives and set goals. When a brand knows why they want to increase awareness whether it is to increase sales or their customer base, defining objectives is much easier. Also, always know your target audience and devise your marketing strategy around them.

Awareness Marketing said...

Twitter and facebook plays an important role in creating brand awareness on the internet. Companies provi8de complete information internet about their product and services.

Rob Wane said...

Awareness will be a great tool for you to learn something new and update yourself to something that may need your full focus and attention. Information is a friend and we should gather enough for us to move forward.