Where Should Consumers Go?

Marketers spent this week discussing the Super Bowl ads — which were most memorable and which we couldn’t believe companies ponied up for. The conversation naturally also included any calls to action directing viewers to the Web.

One spot that stood out was CareerBuilder’s “Darts,” a creative extension of its previous chimp-themed ads. But when it came to a close, the ad simply directed consumers to careerbuilder.com, which, other than a link to set props available for purchase on eBay, makes little effort to highlight the offline campaign.

Compare this to another brand showcased during the game. Doritos drove viewers to snackstrongproductions.com. There, visitors can immerse themselves in the top submissions to the company’s recent consumer-generated media contest in a rich virtual production studio environment. In fact, in association with its Super Bowl spots, Doritos has made the Snack Strong site the brand’s new online home, even redirecting doritos.com traffic to the fresh destination.

Although the new Doritos site is still incomplete, it’s clear a lot of thought went into the overall consumer marketing process. Whether they make their way there from a TV spot or directly online, site visitors are greeted with a coherent experience that highlights the product, as well as the brand’s advertising.

The tendency prior to big events like the Super Bowl is to concoct big ad concepts in a vacuum and work out the details later. These “details” include how to actually succeed at meeting marketing objectives and how to maintain consistency across media and campaigns.

A few weeks ago, I discussed the importance of relevant, action-oriented landing pages. As good as your ad creative might be, it won’t incite a response if you don’t direct consumers to a page that clearly tells them what you want them to do. This issue also comes up in paid search advertising when search marketers link ads to specific destination URLs. Leading searchers to believe they’ve found what they’re looking for with ad copy only to leave them hanging is just bad for business.

Marketers would be wise to take a cue from media buyers and search analysts. The key to creating a coherent campaign that delivers what’s expected and provokes the desired response (while entertaining consumers, of course) is to consider the campaign destination early on. Involve interactive media strategists and planners in the ad brainstorming process.

Traditional marketers needn’t feel threatened; these people’s insight and experience likely won’t derail any favored ad concepts already in the works. What it will do is prompt marketers to consider how best to resolve the campaign online. Their experience with determining where to send online traffic, optimizing destinations, and tracking consumer response makes them ideally suited to determining what steps to take to create a complete cross-media campaign.

There will always be those who argue the validity of TV ads designed simply to brand. While increasing brand or product awareness is a valid ambition, I can think of few instances in which a company would benefit from having such a singular goal. If consumers aren’t guided to a place where they can take action online, whether by making an immediate purchase or learning more about the product, companies are needlessly fumbling.

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