Direct-response Ads and branding campaigns: How do they measure up?
is an orange...is an
orange. Unless, of course, that orange happens to be a Sunkist, a name
eighty percent of consumers know and trust."
In today's interactive and integrated communications' environment the boundaries between Branding Campaigns and Direct Response ads are blurring but for the purpose of further discussion and debate let's clearly define and differentiate the two.
One of the older and simpler definitions was the one coined by David Ogilvy, when he said: A brand is the consumer's idea of a product. Simply implying that a brand is different than a product and that the difference is something with which it is invested by the consumer.
Managers for long have stressed the importance of Brand Power and Aaker
(1996) suggests that strong brands are built as a result of long-term
brand equity management across various media. Branding is about raising
awareness; communicating value/benefits and establishing a trusting,
ongoing relationship with potential buyers and a Brand campaign would
strive to achieve just this.
Audience: Branding Campaigns try to reach large audience for their
products through mass media while direct marketing allows a company
to be more selective and target its marketing communications to specific
customer segments. Messages can also be customized to fit the needs
of the segment and, with new technologies, can even be personalized
for individual customers.
For every Branding Campaign that comes through mass media, the high
level of "clutter" is a major problem. The numerous commercials
we see on television or hear on the radio, as well as the many ads that
appear in most magazines and newspapers, make it very difficult for
advertisers to get their messages noticed and attended to by consumers.
But the advantage of brand campaigns is their ability to strike a responsive
chord with consumers once a basal level of brand awareness and goodwill
has been built. Direct response ads on the other hand bombard consumers
and business with unsolicited mail and phone calls. This makes them
less receptive to direct-marketing efforts and also has created image
problems for products and services marketed this way.
Media & Costs: Image advertisers favor prime-time TV and glossy magazine spreads. Direct response media includes junk mail, late-night TV (Infomercials), and those annoying phone calls that interrupt dinner. The costs of producing and placing traditional advertising can be very high. Media costs have also been increasing rapidly, particularly for television. On the other hand even with 2% response rates to direct mails, marketers are increasingly putting more money in direct response advertising. According to Godin (1999), marketers are now allocating about 52% of their annual ad budgets to direct-response ads because they are more cost-effective.
The key difference between the two is the measurability of results.
The lack of direct feedback for most brand advertising is a drawback,
as this makes it difficult for the advertiser to determine how well
the message was received and whether it was effective or not. On the
other hand whether it's a split-run test of different ads with coupons
(the classic Claude Hopkins way to determine which ad works better)
or a toll-free number for response, direct-response ads make sure that
the advertising results can be measured. In these times when each advertising
dollar has to be spent judiciously, simple brand campaigns seem nothing
but an indulgence.
common perspective to both branding and direct-response ads comes through
'relationship marketing.' Branding campaigns have always striven to
form a long-term relationship with consumer and first make them 'friends'
and then 'lovers' of the brand. Direct-response ads on the other hand
focus too hard on the initial connection with the consumer and don't
pay too much attention to fulfilling the promise. It happens ever so
often, something ordered from a catalogue or direct mail does not live
up to the promise and one vows never to buy again from that company.
The short-term approach kills the long-term relationship.
Permission Marketing: The New Paradigm
role of branding in today's interactive and cluttered environment has
changed. The primary purpose of brand advertising is to help a product
or service gain consideration with prospective customers. Brands are
like information shortcuts --they help consumers quickly sort through
purchase options without having to research every point in detail. Companies
like Amazon are investing in off-line media advertising and public relations.
They are trying to influence market perception of their brand. When
they get press coverage in a Wall Street Journal article that compares
them with established,
Essentially, advertisers provide (what appears to be) a credible option to a user who is actively searching for something similar to a site's offering at an opportune time, rather than distracting or interrupting users when they may be in a completely different state of mind.