Fish where the fish are - Online advertising best practice

19/08/2007

by Danny Meadows-Klue

Why do so many brands waste millions on websites nobody visits? This is one of the tragedies of digital marketing and the rush to create sumptuous, self-indulgent sites is one of the worst examples of how easily the digital landscape can be misread.

“Build it and they will come” - this was the thinking behind the first generation of websites in the mid nineties, but thinking that quickly proved horribly (and expensively) wrong. It grows from a misreading of the way consumers engage with content on the web, and ignores the reality that brands rarely have a strong enough magnetism to pull consumers away from the site they regularly spend their time with.

When a website is needed in the purchase decision - as is the case for buying a car, mobile phone, flight or financial service product - then the website is really valuable. In these cases it should be at the core of the brand’s marketing strategy. The site supports a core business goal and helps with a conversion to sale (whether online or offline).

But for many brands the role of the website is very different, and this is never more the case than in the FMCG (consumer package goods) sector. Yet the same thinking gets applied too often. Only a true brand adorer will seek out a chocolate bar or drinks website, and these are the consumers marketers should be drawing in to deeper relationship marketing programmes to improve the quality and effectiveness of communication.

Look for where your consumers spend most of their time online

  • Approach website selection using the same basic principles that work in offline media - focus on reach, environment and the quality of the consumer experience
  • Think about the consumer’s attitude when they are in these spaces and their receptiveness to the messages your brand has - this helps focus the media budgets to the time of day and the specific sites where they’ll have the most effect on your audience
  • Then take the message to the consumer; reach out to them in the spaces they already inhabit rather than asking them to come to you

This principle of ‘fish where the fish are’ is one of the foundations of marketing in all media and the basis on which the advertising industry was built. Yet in internet advertising, too much emphasis is easily given to the role of the brand’s website as the main place for driving engagement and changes in consumer attitudes or brand preference. It’s a bitter irony that for every single click to draw people there, hundreds of graphical banners and skyscrapers were probably burned up. Yet those views could have been planned and targeted with exceptional media efficiency, and in the hands of the right creative team each of those web advertising impacts could have delivered a bigger punch than any television campaign.

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