Despite widespread skepticism, Coca-Cola, at least, is convinced that banner advertising works for branding, after a study its Netherlands division undertook with ad network 24/7 Media Europe, ad agency Universal Interactive, and research firm Pro Active International.
“The campaign was shown to be well-targeted with 58 percent of respondents matching the target profile,” said Egbert van Acht, marketing director, 24/7 Media Europe. “It proves that careful targeting of well-designed banners can yield powerful results.”
The study, which involved a Shockwave advertisement that ran across four Dutch Web sites in the 24/7 Media Europe network, was conducted in April 2001 and involved a survey of 7,600 people. The ads were part of a promotional campaign designed to drive people to a microsite where they could register for a Coca-Cola card.
Even though a quarter of respondents (26 percent) said they didn’t like banners, more than 20 percent recalled seeing the banner after only a single exposure. Of those who recalled the ad, 60 percent found it “striking, clear and up-to-date.” Eighty percent of respondents thought the campaign was consistent with the Coca-Cola image. The companies said the campaign had a positive effect on the desire to own a Coca-Cola card, although they didn’t quantify the effect.
“Next to the direct marketing effects, we strongly believe that online advertising has branding impact as well,” said Lot Keijzer, interactive planner at Universal Interactive Netherlands, part of the Universal Mc Cann Network. “Therefore, we are very pleased with the outcome of this survey, as it provides us with the necessary proof to endorse our belief.”
Controversy over whether banner ads are effective advertising vehicles has been a big topic as of late, as the online advertising industry suffers from an economic slowdown and click-through rates continue to slide. Industry watchers believe that convincing traditional marketers of the branding impact of interactive advertising is the only way to save the online marketing business. Although they are big spenders, marketers like Coca-Cola have little interest in the direct response capabilities of the Internet, because consumers are unlikely to buy a soda online — nor are they likely build a relationship with a company that sells such a low-consideration item.
Because of this, ad networks like 24/7 Europe, Real Media, and DoubleClick have lately begun partnering with research firms like Pro Active International and Dynamic Logic — or creating their own internal branding research operations — to enable them to provide clients with tangible proof of the branding impact of campaigns.