Multichannel Planning Equals Maximum Brand Awareness

At last! The veracity of a long-held assumption has been demonstrated. The Internet does build brands.

According to hot-off-the-press research from the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) conducted over the past six months, aided brand recognition is boosted 16 percent by a good online ad campaign. More interesting, the recognition rate is higher when click-and-mortar channels are combined. I wrote about the efficacy of click-and-mortar synergy last year, in a book produced with Don Peppers and Martha Rogers (visit DualBook). The EIAA’s research shows unaided awareness of brands exposed on the Internet is 4.7 percent, unaided awareness of brands exposed on TV is 21.7 percent, and unaided awareness of brands exposed across both channels is as high as 31.2 percent. [These findings are similar to recent U.S. online branding studies –Eds.]

This is real vindication for the contention no brand-building medium stands alone. A synergistic, multichannel strategy for a brand-building program is the most effective means of building brand awareness. Cross-channel references should always go both ways. TV campaigns should refer viewers to a brand’s Web site. But the site shouldn’t be the end of the road. It should connect with other media: cell phones, computer games, or the cinema. It’s exactly this domino effect that creates substantial and memorable brands, as indicated by the EIAA study.

But don’t stop there. Make sure each media channel has a small story to tell. Continue the story by adding new dimensions and new events in the narrative, without reiterating the plot or repeating past events. The days of consumer patience, in which people would listen tolerantly to the same message repeatedly, are long gone. Now, consumers expect to be entertained, to be involved in an ongoing tale that gathers life and resonance over time. Forget static. Concentrate on campaigns that introduce characters, change angles, vary message, and perhaps even play with differing tones of voice that alter according to medium, time of transmission, and type of message.

By combining TV and the Net, brand builders can expect an increase of 5 percent in a campaign’s value. This is just the start of the benefits from combining media in new and creative ways. As media channels become increasingly more intelligent, because they’ll most likely become more interactive, we’re likely to see a rise in campaigns based on contextual concepts — concepts that allow brand builders to send the right message to the right audience at the right time.

We’re not 100 percent there yet, but start practicing. Work on interesting cross-channel media combinations. Test their effects. Enhance the results. Brand builders who get it right will not only save tons of resources by sending smart messages in a smart way, they’ll also establish a useful body of knowledge that will become invaluable once we’ve reached the stage at which we can combine interactive media, our consumer knowledge, and message customization across channels intelligently.

This won’t happen tomorrow, but until it does do me a favor: Prove you can leverage the extra 5 percent the EIAA study shows can be extracted from professional media planning.

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