Kraft’s Online Marketing Is About Quality, Not Quantity

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) behemoth Kraft Foods has embraced online marketing, but it doesn’t measure success in impression volume, but in impression quality and the level of customer engagement achieved.

“In traditional advertising, the rule has always been ‘think of one thing you want to say.’ With digital marketing, it’s ‘think of one thing you want the consumer to do.’ Digital marketing is about engagement,” Kathleen Olvany Riordan, VP of global digital marketing strategy at Kraft Foods, told attendees at yesterday’s Digital Marketing Expo in New York.

Kraft measures engagement by the consumer’s completion of high-value tasks. These could be opting in to an email newsletter, entering personal information to customize the user experience on, or interacting with a certain part of the site.

“If you know what you want [users] to do and you can track it, then you can quantify it and show the value of the interaction,” Riordan said.

At, the strategy is to empower the consumer with relevant information such as recipes and nutrition information; to demonstrate the values and attributes of Kraft’s brands in interactive ways that can’t be achieved offline; to involve consumers in the brands, and to help them integrate Kraft’s brands into their everyday lives.

One involvement initiative that targets “millennials,” young adults born between 1979 and 1994, is the Kraft Cooking School. Since many of these young adults haven’t learned to cook at home, Kraft addresses their need with on-demand videos that explain basic tasks and methods needed to cook a meal. As many people in this group are online, it’s an ideal way to reach them and involve them in Kraft’s brands.

Brand awareness is an important part of Kraft’s online strategy, Riordan said, noting 80 percent of its new brands benefit from online consumer interaction. Even Kraft’s well-known brands experience a lift when consumers spend time on the site.

When Kraft begins planning a new campaign, emphasis is not on the medium but on the message. “We’re not designing a banner ad, or rich media, or a Web site — we’re designing consumer experiences,” Riordan said.

The building blocks of those experiences are Kraft’s three “marketing imperatives”: insights, ideas and integration.

Insights Kraft wants to learn, and address, about its consumers include things such as which consumer behaviors Kraft wants to change or reinforce and whether the experience should be emotional or functional. Riordan tries to make a consumer experience answer the question, “What job is the consumer hiring you for?”

Once those insights are defined, they can be used to drive bigger ideas that make a strong consumer connection, she said. “It’s not whether we gain the consumer’s attention — it’s whether they give it to us.”

Online marketing plays a strategic role in Kraft’s overall mix, and cross-media integration is an important part of the strategy. Instead of using multiple media just to extend reach and “shout louder,” Kraft focuses on integrating and optimizing the consumer experience across multiple touch points.

“You cannot be successful in today’s marketing environment without a 360-degree view of the customer,” she declared.

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