Mining The Synergies Between Direct Response & Branding Campaigns

By October 8, 2015No Comments

By George Gutierrez

Branding295x175It’s a common misconception that direct-response and branding campaigns operate in separate dimensions and, therefore, do not overlap. However, it’s certainly possible, and wise, to apply direct-response principles to how a branding campaign is managed by applying real-time learnings from brand studies to optimize against top-performing strategies. The key point is that the relationship between both campaigns can be mutually beneficial.

A branding campaign can help build audience pools of new customers for direct-response campaigns to nurture or translate into finding similar prospects.

Similarly, insights from direct-response campaigns (retrieved from pixels placed on an advertiser’s site) can help boost the efficiency of branding campaigns by helping apply the right blend of targeting to reach the audience in environments in which they are most likely to engage with the brand.

What follows are some common approaches to direct-response campaigns and branding campaigns that can maximize the effectiveness of both.

Approach To Direct-Response

A direct-response campaign’s objectives always involve driving users to complete a conversion—whether it be by engaging the current customer base, users who have engaged but not converted, or by finding new users to engage. A thorough direct-response campaign will seek to engage users at all stages of their consideration. The audience that the advertiser seeks to engage will help determine the strategy development and the layering of targeting tactics employed in the campaign.

Programmatic vendors—due to their ability to layer targeting from their Data Management Platforms, or, in some instances, build audiences from scratch with pixel data–are necessary players in a direct-response campaign and are essential in driving efficient response. The results include achieving strong cost-per-acquisitions and return-on-investment due to low CPMs.

Depending on campaign objectives, targeting tactics to consider can be broken out thusly:

Engage current/interested customer base:

  • Retargeting:Targeting users who have previously visited an advertiser’s webpage
    • Dynamic Retargeting:Serve customized messaging to users depending on whether they did/did not convert, what products/services they browsed, or their geographic location

Reach and impact new customers:

  • Demographic:Targets users based on criteria such as age, gender, household income, education, etc.
  • Behavioral:Targets users based on online behaviors: content consumption/browsing tendencies, online purchases, etc. For example, targeting a user who is determined to be a “Sports Fan”, “Technology Buff” or “Frequent Traveler” based on online content consumption and online purchases.
  • Contextual:Targets users through specific content topics relevant to your brand.
    • Channel:Targets users through site content categories
  • Geographic:Target users based on location: Country, State, City, ZIP Code, etc.
    • Dynamic:Serve customized ad depending on location
  • Look-alike Targeting/Prospecting:Targets users with similar web browsing behaviors to users who have previously visited an advertiser’s webpage or have converted

Depending on the objectives of the campaign, one or several targeting tactics may be employed and tested in seeking to impact the target audience. Programmatic vendors may be selected to execute the targeting according to their strengths or—as is the case with many programmatic vendors—according to how many different targeting tactics they are able to execute to the highest caliber.

In addition to creating a strategy around reaching your intended audience via a programmatic vendor and driving actions, a key element of a direct-response campaign is optimization.

Real-time algorithmic learnings allow programmatic vendors to apply computer-based optimizations to continue to serve against the most efficiently converting audiences, in the right environments. Additionally, manual optimizations against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be applied as such:

  • Vendor
  • Creative
    • Message
    • Ad Size
  • Targeting Tactic
  • Scheduling (Day – Time of Day)

Approach to Branding/Awareness

Branding/Awareness campaigns should seek to engage the current/potential customer and help drive perception and consideration.

Establishing a connection with your target audience is often difficult to do with a simple banner ad. A stronger approach is to promote captivating content and/or make banner units engaging.

Native advertising – through a premium publisher network with exclusive partnerships and emphasis on brand safety and customer trust – can assist in bringing awareness to the brand by promoting:

  • Owned content
  • Earned content
  • Social channels
  • Video channels

Additionally, an awareness campaign should accomplish user engagement through the use of high-impact and highly-engaging creative executions that capture users’ interests and prompts them to want to learn more about the brand.

Creative executions such as Roadblocks, Takeovers, various rich media units with embedded engagement functionalities and video are all visually dominating executions. Incorporating high-impact units on endemic/contextually relevant environments are typically the highest engaging, layered in with relevant targeting.

Brand studies are a recommended element to an awareness campaign because they help provide insights on metrics beyond simply tracking clicks, social shares, video views, or rich media unit engagements.

A brand study helps determine whether campaigns are truly having an impact with the audience with regard to brand perception and purchase intent. Surveys are served to a group of users who have not viewed the ad and another group of users who have, then measuring the difference in perception the viewing of an ad has on an audience.

With a brand study, real-time insights into how users are engaging and being impacted by advertiser messaging can assist in optimizing the campaign to what is helping drive increases in brand perception and purchase intent. Brand studies provide insights on performance against Awareness KPIs against the following:

  • Vendor
  • Creative
    • Type (standard banner, rich media unit, etc.)
    • Message
    • Ad Size

An awareness campaign can share principles with a direct-response/performance-driven campaign as it seeks to optimize against KPIs such as brand perception and purchase intent gathered from the brand study.

Integrating Direct Response & Awareness

Branding efforts can help drive visits from new and engaged prospects, which can boost effectiveness of audience pools used in direct-response campaigns for nurturing and building of prospect profiles.

Specifically, branding/awareness campaigns can enhance the efforts of a direct-response campaign through assistance in building cookie pools for the employment of retargeting and prospecting/lookalike targeting.

For instance, through the pixeling of a landing page(s) used in a branding/awareness campaign, programmatic vendors can build a cookie pool to retarget users who have engaged via the branding/awareness campaign with customized, direct-response messaging.

Additionally, if the objective is to further expand the current customer base, pixeling a landing page(s) utilized in an branding/awareness campaign can help a programmatic vendor build prospecting/lookalike audience segments from the cookie pool. This can find users similar to those who have engaged with messaging and then target users with direct-response messaging.

Additionally, pixels from direct-response vendors that are placed on branding/awareness landing pages can help gather demographic and behavioral insights about the users engaging with the branding messaging. This includes information about age, gender, income, level of education, frequented sites and preferred content.

Leveraging the information and the audience insights that these pixels provide can help the efficiency of branding/awareness campaigns by narrowing and layering targeting applied to the campaign.

The result can be the ability to focus on the audience that is engaging most with the branding message and reaching those people in the most relevant environments to help boost brand trust and purchase intent.

Performance-driven principles, such as the leveraging of real-time data for optimizations, can then be applied to the branding campaign, through the use of branding studies. This can help optimize performance beyond standard metrics like clicks, site visits, etc. so that the campaign can concentrate on best performing publishers/creative/etc. that drive the most brand trust and purchase intent.

Originally published at Momentology


georgethumbGeorge is Digital Display Strategist at Acronym and is responsible for all elements of Display media strategy and campaign management. George is a huge proponent of innovation and staying ahead of the curve; as the Display landscape continuously evolves, he is always seeking ways to leverage new ideas—both on the technical and creative side—to help guide client initiatives to experience great success.

Prior to joining Acronym, George was Senior Digital Associate at MEC, working on the AT&T Business Solutions account. While at previous agencies, George has worked across several industries and verticals with clients such as Dell, Clarks, Travel Channel, National Geographic, Univision Network, Sara Lee, and Smashburger. George’s experience has fostered deep knowledge of the Display industry, having partnered with many of the top publishers, programmatic vendors and data providers in the industry.

The hero image is not attention-grabbing enough. The color and imagery is a bit dull. Could we have something more dynamic? Either something that reads “digital marketing” or a workplace image with people in a creative meeting?