10 Things Brands Should Already Be Doing Online

Changes to online advertising over the last 12 months have forever altered how marketers should use the internet. Improved tools, better metrics, greater understanding and new businesses have created a number of new opportunities for brands. Below I’ve listed ten of them…

  • 1. Recognising online brand impact: online isn’t just about clicks and actions, as last year’s growth in online brand spend from 5% to 12% testifies (IAB 2010). Sometimes telling people something exists, showing a brand/product or explaining your view of a brand is literally the best form of marketing. I’ve seen many surveys and spoken with many marketers all stating that they know online display ads have a brand effect, even without a click. Consider turning this talk into action, by using more online display to reach targeted audiences and build brand campaigns rather than solely relying on an interaction.
  • 2. Using larger online ad sizes: we’re already seeing larger ad formats and homepage takeovers across leading websites like The Telegraph, The Guardian, Wired, YouTube and many more. Lo and behold, they look fantastic and, according to agencies I speak to who use them, are high impact without being intrusive. I fully expect the popularity of these formats to continue.
  • 3. Understanding ‘captured interest’: there are a number of opportunities online guaranteeing that when your ad is shown, people see it. Well positioned online display ads are one, but online video and in-game advertising are two other key opportunities. When someone watches a video online, you know they’re sitting there watching because they selected to watch it. If someone is playing a game (on a console or online) you know they’ll see your brand in it because if they don’t pay attention they’ll lose. This ‘captured interest’ is important because it delivers higher value for advertisers with guaranteed views.
  • 4. Working closer with media owners: despite movement towards tools that give brands and their agencies independent control over the booking and buying of advertising, next year I hope the demand-side work closer with media owners creatively. To fully maximise use of media space, it’s important to understand the content you’re advertising around, and the people who know content best are the people that make it. We’re already seeing fantastic work like Tipp-Ex and YouTube’s interactive ‘shoot the bear’ video. We’ll continue to see more bespoke work, sponsorship and unique online adverts on key media owner sites this year.
  • 5. Making sense of converged media: if a brand still isn’t using mobile, then I hate to say it, but they’re already slipping behind. Many brands already include mobile as a core channel and are looking to all other internet devices. Now companies must not only figure out, but deliver their internet proposition to any device, whether that’s mobile, tablets, laptops, games consoles, PC or TV. This is easier to do than you may imagine, you simply need the right people project managing everything. We’ll begin to see more brands getting the right balance across all internet enabled devices, but I’d recommend people start exploring internet on TVs early (e.g. Yahoo!’s internet TV, Google TV, Apple TV, Boxee, YouView, games consoles).
  • 6. Consider bucking the app trend: on mobile and tablets companies have been flocking to app stores to deliver great user experiences. This will continue, however there’s a big ‘but’ and that’s search traffic. On all devices people rely on search engines to find what they’re looking for, and app content isn’t currently included in this. There is a huge opportunity here, and if rumours are true, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has spotted it. Facebook doesn’t have an app on the iPad or any other tablets, and there are rumours that Facebook is instead working on an HTML5 version of the site for these devices. This has multiple advantages, such as cost savings by creating one tablet friendly version of Facebook rather than multiple apps. The most important advantage is that this approach allows Facebook to appear in search, which fits with the gradual opening up of the site’s content. In particular, this will really benefit their new location service ‘Places’ which ultimately makes money on location based offers. I expect other companies will spot this opportunity and buck the app trend.
  • 7. Using location based marketing: no surprises here, but 2011 will be the year that marketers fully understand how to exploit location based online advertising. Facebook Places, Four Square, GroupOn and Google Maps are some of the front runners in this space, but the real benefit will be seen by brands and the millions of SME local businesses that can use these for promotion.
  • 8. Understanding social drivers: not the media, but why people socialise online and how brands fit into this. Many brands use social media really well, but there is still a way to go to fully make sense of the online social space. The practicalities of building a brand presence on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and community forums are simple, while engaging with people correctly can be more of a challenge. I’d like to see brands focus less on the technology and more on the people. Looking at activity, audience research and even simply asking customers how they would like to interact with your brand online.
  • 9. Loving online data: everyone loves data these days (“the marketers of the future are geeks” etcetera) but data is no longer for geeks. Infographics and new online tools for simple data visualisation is making sense of the flood of stats coming our way. Data is the backbone of marketing now and for the future, and this year data will help marketers to optimise and improve the efficiency of all marketing activity. Data proves that all good (or extremely bad) marketing activity has an online effect. Digital marketers understand this, but I expect marketers with jobs in TV, radio, outdoor, cinema and print advertising to turn even more to online data – like search traffic and online conversations – to help judge the success of a campaign.This information should be a core metric.
  • 10. Starting a measurement revolution: media is now so converged, and data so accessible, that people are seeing with their own eyes that the future of almost all media is the internet. This year we’ll see the tiny seeds of consistent cross-media measurement building support to create a movement that revolutionises – and simplifies – all future planning and success measures.

These are of course, just some of my thoughts, please share your own below.

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  • The number thing that brands should be doing online is video. Consumption is growing faster and faster; and local search is starting to dominate. Soon every business will need a video