The Two R's Of Online Advertising

Successful online businesses know that success means providing the most value to customers. The Internet has given people the power to compare and choose, and the competition is only a few clicks away.

Companies like Toys “R” Us and Etoys are locked in epic battles over who can win customers by providing the most value. These businesses compete in areas such as price, selection, convenience, quality, service, content and community.

By erasing geography and enabling efficient comparisons, the Internet has given consumers control over their pocketbooks. The so-called digital economy has reversed the power dynamic between buyers and sellers.

But the Internet has given people control over more than their money. It is giving them control over their time and attention. The Internet’s “attention economy” empowers people’s decisions over where to pay attention.

Why? In the days of three networks, audiences were semi-captive. Now there are millions of choices. Add the power to block or filter ads (or just not click on them) and you have a whole different world for advertisers.

This new world is one in which online advertisers, like online merchants, have to learn to provide value to customers. That’s a big shift. Traditional advertisers have been in the business of communicating, not providing, value. But online, the rules of the game change.

Of course, advertisers aren’t going to provide value the same way online businesses do. But in order to compete for the attention of the people they target, they need to provide value nonetheless.

So how do online advertisers provide value? They need to follow the two R’s of online marketing: relevance and reward.

Relevance means that the right ads need to reach the right people, and they have to be interesting and appropriate. This means that media departments need to understand targeting technologies as well as media planning.

Advertising messages also need to reward attention. The myth that the ads pay for the content people want is outdated. People know that their attention has value, and that attention needs to be sufficiently rewarded. Otherwise, advertising is ignored (and maybe even resented).

Campaigns that follow the two R’s almost always score high on any measurement of success, whether the objective is customer acquisition, retention, or just plain awareness.

If you need an example of advertising that adheres to the two R’s, think about the last advertising message you responded to. It probably was interesting, and offered you something that made your response worthwhile.

Then think of the hundreds of ads that clutter your browser and mind each day. They offered you no value, and they were ignored. In this new economy of fierce competition, that’s a perfect recipe for disaster.

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