Traditionally, ad networks have been perceived as enablers, as tools advertisers and agencies can use to increase campaign efficiency, extend their reach and add scale. An agency or brand marketer would present goals for a performance campaign, and the ad network would deliver a solution that exceeded these goals. While perhaps not a science, the numbers are precise and easily measured.
However, ad networks have invested time and money in building out technology and products that not only enable successful performance campaigns, but also enable successful branding campaigns such as those in video.
Video is perhaps the most effective brand-building arrow in an advertisers’ quiver, combining sight, sound and motion in a manner that, when done well, elicits an emotional connection between the audience and the brand.
On the internet, video advertising has even more potential – targeting technology makes reaching relevant audiences more efficient, while interactivity allows the audience to react to the brand and learn more about it. In addition, the rise of online video advertising marks the first really effective branding tool, other than their own websites, that brand marketers have on the internet. (Of course, one major difference here is that video advertising is pushed out to prospective customers, while brand marketers have to wait for their websites to pull in customers.)
Take frequency capping, for example. Most conversion campaigns have a clear call to action, such as “Click here to buy now” or “Sign up now to talk with an agent.” The goal is pretty straightforward: here’s a little bit about our offering, now buy it or use it. So if someone is in the market for an item (which we know because it’s a targeted campaign), and doesn’t jump (or, in this case, click) the first time, and doesn’t click the second time, the traditional school of thought is that the advertiser is better off saving the ad impression for a different user. For these reasons, it’s common to see the frequency cap around two impressions for the entirety of a conversion campaign.
As you move up the marketing funnel, though, these rules change. Branding campaigns are less about driving an immediate action and more about building brand awareness or provoking evaluation of the product. Building brand awareness requires a different formula between the two key elements of time and exposure. Branding campaigns need to serve a higher volume of ads over a shorter period of time – or at least a higher volume of ads over the same period of time – in order to increase brand recall, brand recognition and/or brand loyalty. For online branding campaigns, it’s common to see frequency cap set as high as 5 to 10 per creative execution – versus the one or two ads per month per user you see with online conversion campaigns.
Interactivity is another area that deserves to be treated differently. As mentioned earlier, the interactivity of performance campaigns is rather straightforward: see my ad and click it to buy the product. But for branding campaigns, the goals are different. The goal of the ad is to build or strengthen the emotional bond the consumer has toward the product or company, and it’s important the creative execution reflect that. Rather than clicking to buy, successful interactive elements of branding campaigns could direct the user to a microsite where they learn more about the product or company, or take them on a tour of the product. One real-life example of this is an automobile ad, where interacting with the ad makes the viewer feel like he is behind the wheel of the car or checking out the engine.
Since this disparity exists with frequency capping and interactivity, common and (presumably) straightforward campaign elements, imagine the potential disparities for other elements of a performance campaign versus a brand awareness campaign – such as day parting, targeting and reach. Frequency capping and interactivity are just small indicators of the differences between running successful online branding and performance campaigns.
Follow Tyler Moebius (@ttmoebius) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.