Data gives digital media a measurable edge

FEATURE: Digital media’s ubiquitous offerings are increasingly changing the business of advertising and branding.

Data gives digital media a measurable edge
CLEANING UP: Barb de Corti wanted to bring a glamorous angle to cleaning with ENJO’s integrated branding campaign. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Digital media’s ubiquitous offerings are increasingly changing the business of advertising and branding. 

The growth of digital media and its impact on Western Australia’s advertising and branding industry is beyond doubt, with new data showing it accounts for one quarter of business amid the top agencies.

Business News’ annual investigation of the branding landscape has revealed an increasing number of brands are recognising digital channels offer a cheaper and more comprehensive alternative to traditional media platforms, such as television, print and radio.

PwC confirmed the global nature of this trend in its Global Media Outlook Report for 2014-2018, which revealed the majority of big brands had moved up to 30 per cent of their marketing budgets away from traditional media.

The shift is evident in the local market as well; WA’s largest advertising agency, The Brand Agency, says nearly half of its work is now across digital channels, much of that focused on social media.

The agency’s head of strategic planning, Alison Ray, told Business News that all of the company’s clients were considering how to incorporate digital into their branding and advertising strategies, if they hadn’t already done so.

That’s a far cry from five years ago when only the biggest brands were working out how to best utilise a corporate Facebook or Twitter account.

According to BNIQ data, digital now accounts for one quarter of all work undertaken by the top echelon of WA’s ad agencies, while television and print revenue is only slightly more at 33 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

A significant benefit of digital advertising, aside from lower costs, is its ability to provide the ever-elusive return on investment analysis, which has been a major drawback of traditional media campaigns in the past.

The increased focus on analytics has also prompted the birth of new advertising agencies such as Digital Dialogue and Mpire Media, both of which have achieved strong growth in their five and eight years (respectively) in business.

Clean sweep

In 2012, after nearly 20 years in operation, founder of the Australian ENJO cleaning products business, Barb de Corti, decided to launch an online store to supplement income from direct sales.

To coincide with that new strategy, Ms de Corti approved a significant budget for a multi-platform branding campaign.

Ms de Corti told Business News that, while the 2013 campaign was about raising awareness of the new online store, it was also intended to attract younger customers.

“Many of them might have known about ENJO through their parents anyway, but we wanted to just sex it up a little and actually make cleaning sexy,” Ms de Corti said.

“The challenge we found was people always present cleaning in the same way; it’s a frantic housewife running around because the mother-in-law is coming over … we wanted to get away from that.”

The result was a multi-platform campaign delivering a message that a ‘fabulous life’ involved creating a ‘fabulous mess’.

The beauty of ENJO’s online store was the direct correlation between the big-ticket television advertisements and traffic to its website.

Marketing and brand manager Tara Heath said that marked the start of ENJO’s entrance into digital analysis of brand and advertising strategies.

“In terms of results, the ad itself was very effective in driving traffic to the site,” Ms Heath said.

“One of the key drivers for us was whether we were getting people to the site, and then once they’re there, whether we were converting them directly to sales.”

The majority of customers to the online store were new customers, indicating the campaign was achieving its goal; but Ms Heath said detailed analysis to directly link advertising with sales had not quite been achieved.

“For us it’s about learning; we have a site that is performing very well, but there are tweaks that we can make and tweaks that we learned from to make even stronger sales in the future,” she said.

ENJO also has a strong social media presence, which was utilised in the campaign with competitions run on Facebook, search engine and pay-per-click advertising, as well as branded messages and offers through social media.

Ms Heath said while that gave ENJO some good insights into what worked well with customers, its social media activity was more about striking up a relationship with customers.

Ms de Corti said the growth of social media indicated a shift in society, of which companies needed to take heed.

“With direct sales a lot of [referrals] come from word of mouth, and we find now that social media has become our word of mouth.

“We find that people talk more with each other online than actually standing in the corner at the water cooler and discussing something new.”

Social appetite

WA bakery Mrs Mac’s has similarly turned to social media as an alternative strategy for engaging with customers.

“Social media is just such a part of normal day life now that it has to be a consideration of any marketing strategy – certainly for a business like ours,” chief executive Murray Beros told Business News.

Marketing manager Merilyn Elson said Mrs Mac’s had one employee dedicated solely to social media content, which normally involved pushing out information about products and the company’s activities, as well as gathering feedback from customers.

“A lot of businesses have social media just to tick the box and they don’t really do anything with it; we didn’t want to fall into that trap,” she said.

“We wanted to make sure that we were getting a return on it and getting interaction and growth and that we could see some benefits from it.

“Traditional media is obviously an expensive way to get to market, and getting to our core market – 18-35 year olds and particularly men – who are not necessarily watching mainstream television, listening to the radio or reading newspapers, but they’re very active in social media.”

Social media was also instrumental in delivering messages about the bakery’s recent company-wide rebrand, which was undertaken to bring make the company appear more contemporary as well as better communicate the fact that it’s a family-owned bakery.

While the budget for the rebranding campaign was spread across all media, including traditional, Ms Elson said there was much more flexibility with digital channels.

“It gives us the opportunity to have a conversation rather than advertising ‘at’ people,” she said.

However, measuring return on that investment has been difficult, and Ms Elson echoed ENJO’s view that Facebook, in particular, was more about establishing a relationship.

“Measuring any media is very difficult, we do have a few things in place such as YouTube metrics to see who is viewing your ad and pay-per-click advertising, but Facebook is not so much about measuring sales, it’s more of an engagement measure,” Ms Elson said.

Mr Beros said businesses had to accept that marketing was not necessarily about getting a direct return on investment.

“There’s an element of any branding that you have to accept that there’s a cost for doing it, if it’s not targeting a call to action, it’s not going to generate (sales),” he said.

“It’s going to involve a certain amount of spend just to keep your brand presence, particularly given the amount of competition that exists.”

Community prospects

The Brand Agency’s Alison Ray has been working with clients to establish social media relationships for at least five years.

While at the outset it was limited to big-name brands, Ms Ray said most, if not all, now recognised that social media was a core part of establishing brand presence.

“What my clients are starting to see now is that no one media really works on its own, and if you can integrate the two, that’s when it really starts to work,” she said.

Ms Ray said that, during her recent period of maternity leave, she had been exposed to a whole new world of community forums (such as broadband user site whirlpool) that brands and advertisers had not yet targeted to any great degree.

For example, some online community groups have as many as 11,000 members.

“That’s just the people talking about it online; if they research and find the information when they take that offline and talk to the parents at school, their friends and their family, they’re spreading that information again,” Ms Ray said.

While brands may not yet have jumped on the idea of participating in online forums, Ms Ray said the shift towards digital could not be disputed.

“In the past five years there’s been a huge shift to digital and brands really love that because it’s measurable, and you can get quite detailed analytics; it has traditionally been a bit harder to do that with other media,” she said.

That ability to provide data analysis has driven the growth of Zhenya Tsvetnenko’s Mpire Media, which provides online advertising on a payment-by-results basis.

The company’s growth internationally has prompted it to list on the ASX through a backdoor listing of Lithex Resources, a former graphite explorer.

Meanwhile another Perth company, Digital Dialogue, has reported significant growth on the back of its ability to show the return on investment (or lack of) from traditional media advertising.

The question is, with The Brand Agency at the top of the advertising agency leader board for the first time, driven to a large degree by its digital focus, what will the next few years bring for agencies with a strong focus on traditional media?


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