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Editorial Advisory Board

Is Branding Dead?

1 Jan, 2009 By: Thomas Haire Response

No, but as the economy struggles and marketing budgets are slashed, measuring ROI on every marketing dollar is now a necessity. In the new age of direct response, marketers are turning to 'response-branding' methods more than ever.

How is the trend away from less directly measurable branding ads and toward measurable campaigns affecting multi-channel campaigns? Would you consider a marketer not using a measurable, multi-channel strategy product or brand suicide?

Greg Sarnow, founder, Direct Response Academy: There will always be product categories and price points that will be ineffective for campaigns that need a response. Brand marketers would always declare that they measure more information than other marketing channels. Their measurements are accountable but usually not in short periods of time, and there is an aggregate feature to the end results. "Measurable branding" has always existed but will change in the future, becoming more accountable and more instant.

Baer: It's not suicide as much as it is high-stakes roulette. You're placing a bet — in fact, a big bet if you're buying enough eyeballs to move the needle — and you don't know if you've won or lost until the game is over. What we usually recommend is a portfolio management approach — run multiple, accountable programs and monitor them so that you can move dollars towards the active drivers of commerce for that campaign. That way, you're not the player — you're the pit boss.

Hawthorne: For the majority of marketers, accountable advertising is still a small, though growing, percentage of their overall marketing budgets, with most of it being spent on SEM and internet display advertising, and some "toe-in-the-water" testing of pre-rolls, video-on-demand (VOD), interactive TV, E-mail, gaming, mobile and social networking. While not suicide, a marketer who isn't at least testing these new media channels walks a gentle pathway to corporate extinction.

Beck: With the volatility in various marketing channels today, the best approach for any company is not to put all of their eggs in any single basket. Why bet everything on a single marketing tactic when it is really not that difficult these days to spread things out a little? Consider your marketing channels like a portfolio of stocks and diversify.

Garnett: Brand campaigns have always measured audience size and conjectured impact from the assumption that getting your message in front of an audience would transfer into action. The new measurement is a measurement of action. And action is a much stronger estimate of the impact of your advertising — in recent advertising lingo it lets us measure the "lean forward" or "engagement" impact of the advertising. Even better, it lets you tweak your media mix based on these actions. We need to take care and not overstate its power. Not using measurable multi-channel campaigns today is unwise, but not brand suicide, because the most important factor in advertising success is message — not execution of the media strategy.

Stacey: Every advertising campaign has different primary and secondary objectives. There are companies running ads for all kinds of different reasons, and many of them have nothing to do with generating any immediate sales. There are as many measurements as there are objectives out there. However, as the economy gets more difficult, the main objective will increasingly be to drive immediate sales — and that, of course, is easier to measure.

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