The Internet as an advertising medium must be growing up. In the last 12 months, as talk of online's branding capabilities steadily rose and investment in the channel grew, we started seeing fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brand marketers, those offline broadcast media stalwarts, shift online. Only a few years ago, we wondered whether this would ever happen and whether the Internet alone could sufficiently influence brand perceptions or offline purchase intent.
Looks like it can!
FMCG Advertising Case Studies
Witness the recent Belgian Cherry Coke launch. The global soft drink manufacturer introduced Cherry Coke to this new market solely online. The entire ad budget was spent within MSN Belgium with the intent to persuade teenagers and young adults to try the product.
Dynamic Logic measured the campaign's effect and influence. All branding metrics rose. The most important metric, consumption likelihood, was up 22 percent.
The Internet now regularly reaches a mainstream audience, and broadband adoption augments online consumption at the expense of other media. Given that, the channel's viability and importance for promoting low-consideration, low-ticket, regular purchase products (i.e., the stuff you buy at the supermarket) is growing. FMCG advertisers can no longer rely solely on traditional, mass-audience channels to reach target consumers, build brands, and influence decisions. With increasing media choices and subsequent fragmented audiences, FMCG marketers must adopt more multichannel strategies. A growing portion of this is online.
In addition to supplementing reach, online offers FMCG advertisers new opportunities for creative experimentation, improved targeting, and deeper consumer interactions. Broadband connectivity exploits multimedia content to bring products to life, immersing viewers in engaging brand experiences. Advertisers can display the same, or similar, creative online as they do on TV with video ad formats (as offered by the likes of Eyeblaster and Unicast). This allows them to deliver more consistent cross-media brand messages and propositions.
Consumer data are much more easily captured online, enabling sophisticated audience segmentation and better targeting. This establishes a more intimate dialogue. These factors help positively affect branding metrics, as the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB's) XMOS studies have revealed.
FMCG advertisers use the online channel to cost-effectively complement and supplement strategies for short-term sales lift and longer-term brand building, creating a synergistic effect on both. Well-placed and efficiently implemented display ad formats help raise brand awareness and favorability for new product launches and brand events. Outstanding rich media formats, as those used recently by Heinz to promote baked beans online, help grab users' attention in an increasingly cluttered ad environment and better communicate the brand's emotional aspects.
Content sponsorships, such as woman's deodorant Impulse on handbag.com, allow for longer-term creation of brand values and associations among like-minded online groups. Brand-building ads can be used to solicit direct participation in sales promotions or product sampling. Cussons, a European soap manufacturer, combined these elements in the online promotion of its Original Source shower gel, presenting its TV ad online and asking viewers to order a sample.
Capturing FMCG Ad Dollars
Despite great case studies, overall investment from the sector is proportionally small compared to other media. FMCG marketers and their agencies must be convinced incorporating online media will influence long-term market share better than other channels. TV, for the time being, dominates. Stakeholders looking to capture more budget from the FMCG sector must offer those marketers guidance, support, robust validation, and exceptional strategic and creative thinking.
Media owners should carry out detailed visitor segmentation to better target advertisers' life-stage and lifecycle profiles, thus optimizing response. Offer flexibility and creativity in ad formats and content integration, as well as exclusivity of placements and positioning to help clients achieve better results. Along with detailed and accurate quantitative campaign metrics, gather qualitative consumer feedback through opinion polls and surveys.
Online media and creative agencies should work closely with marketers' offline agencies early on to understand brand values and proposition, help integrate strategies, and coordinate activities. Educate clients and their agencies about online's multifaceted nature, benefits, and audience characteristics. Encourage and facilitate channel performance testing and tracking, help analyze findings, and offer optimization services. Enhance and add value to offline assets. Work with ad servers to develop flexible and adaptable campaign delivery, in line with offline activity, and produce in-depth data to justify and validate spend.
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Julian Smith conducts research and analysis on the European interactive marketing and advertising arena as an analyst with Jupiter Research, which shares a parent company with ClickZ.
His areas of expertise cover all aspects of the online advertising industry, e-mail marketing, mobile (SMS/MMS) marketing, search engine marketing, eCRM, online branding and Web site design. His particular area of interest is in the use of digital media for the acquisition, retention and development of customers.
Prior to joining Jupiter Research, Julian spent over six years working in a variety of interactive marketing agencies in London. These included Razorfish, Euro RSCG Interaction and TBWA/GGT where he worked in strategy and client service roles helping develop online solutions for leading blue chip clients. Most recently he assisted in the integrated marketing launch of 3, the new 3G video mobile phone, one of the largest new product launches in the UK in 2003.
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