For a long time, online marketers looked for a high click-through rate (CTR) as a major milestone. In the early stages of web marketing, CTR was really the only direct metric marketers could use to determine the success of their online initiatives. As the web has matured, more sophisticated metrics are becoming available, such as the tools mentioned last week and the week before in Tom Hespos’s articles.
Both clients and agencies alike are using increasingly more complex user tracking systems. Clients learn to read their logs and use tracking tools on their web sites; agencies use more advanced ad-tracking systems. The newer metrics are tied more closely to meaningful conversions (e.g., transactions, registrations, etc.).
This is a big improvement over CTR, and these new tracking systems can offer short-term and immediate success to a client’s business — the low-hanging fruit, so to speak. These marketing initiatives can be categorized as hard-sell, feature-oriented advertising or promotions. They’re all about doing something now that’s simply communicated without any bells or whistles.
Creating a positive interaction with a brand is a soft-sell advertising technique. Anyone who clicks on a banner, uses an advertiser’s site, and is satisfied has a positive interaction with the brand. Take it a step further by creating an experience that demonstrates the consumer benefit in a relevant way, and you’re really on to something.
Think about TV: One of the greatest benefits of using this medium, beyond its incredible reach, is its power to demonstrate product use and to tell a story. We all know how powerful this can be as a passive experience without any interactivity. It stands to reason that combining the TV experience with the added benefit of interactivity on the web will create a strong brand experience. Interaction with a brand online means that you’re creating an “active” experience for the consumer. Just think how powerful that can be, particularly as a tool for creating brand awareness. Now we’re talking about engaging the consumer and creating memories.
Up until now, advertising has been stuck between the content that consumers are actually interested in; it’s the classic tradeoff of interesting content versus the ads that pay for the content. In recent years “advertorial” tactics have come into play as consumers tune out advertising, as if consumers online don’t understand that advertisers want them to buy their products online, as they do offline.
The recent direct-response phase that web advertising has been going through has been shortsighted, and the recent dot-com bust, with several layoffs in the online advertising community, proves it. The great thing about online advertising is that the virtual nature of the digital environment allows for the same range of tactics that are used in traditional marketing, and then some.
The long-term success of most brands depends on creating a relationship where consumers identify with the brand essence and feel the product meets their needs. This can be accomplished by creating a positive interaction with the brand through consumer participation. There is no better medium for doing this than the World Wide Web.