FROM DISPLAY TO SEARCH AND BACKThere is no doubt that online is getting a bigger slice of the total advertising and marketing spend in 2008. This follows the ongoing trend of more integrated approaches to campaigns and increasing popularity of purely digital initiatives.
Digital seems to scratch the itch of the instant gratification generation with seemingly immediate results; impressions, click-throughs, conversion rates and a whole host of metrics to with which to calculate roi.
I would also suggest that softening market conditions and weakening consumer confidence is also accelerating the flow of marketing dollars online as marketers seek more economic and accountable ways to spend their budget.
Digital seems to scratch the itch of the instant gratification generation with seemingly immediate results; impressions, click-throughs, conversion rates and a whole host of metrics to with which to calculate ROI. However, has too much focus on these metrics caused us to forget the fundamentals learnt during the golden years of brand advertising?
Indeed an interesting phenomenon has occurred within the online channel. There seems to be a trend of marketers reducing their spend in online display advertising and diverting these funds into paid search advertising. The reason: the metrics are clear, the search engines are delivering more traffic and conversions than display. Basically Google is being credited with the conversions and therefore receiving a larger slice of the pie.
So Google is taking the credit, but is it really doing the hard work? Advertising in traditional media has long worked successfully on the principle of engagement and repeated exposure, leaving it up to the consumer to take action when ready. At this time the consumer recalls the advertisement and perhaps looks up the yellow pages or visits a business for further information. There are no direct realtime metrics at the marketers fingertips. Who gets the credit – media placement, directory listings or point of sale advertising? ROI can only be calculated long after a campaign launch and often only through survey research and analysis of the bottom line.
Search engines are simply the directory or gateways that consumers consult once they are ready to take action. This could be motivated by repeated exposures to online or offline advertising which cement the purchase decision, but Google delivers the traffic and takes the credit.
While search engine advertising is an important component of most online strategies, it is dangerous to over value the metrics of where the final traffic is coming from and neglect the communications which provide the motivation for the search in the first place.
In a medium where there is so much data, you can easily get obsessed with the metrics and become blinded to the nature of how things are actually working. Display may be working harder in the area of brand advertising then conversion metrics may suggest. While there may be a swing away from display, the pendulum will return as marketers become less obsessed with the traffic metrics, gain a greater understanding of online consumer behavior, and reconsider the complimentary relationship between display and search.