Welcome to the Interact Congress Blog. We have invited some leading European guest bloggers to share their observations on interactive marketing and communication skills within the integrated experience. The blog also offers you a first opportunity to interact with your peers.

For more information about the congress, please visit www.interactcongress.eu

Thursday, 10 May 2007

What research will help brands uncover how they can invest more smartly in online?

That’s the question I put to the Leadership Council of IAB Europe last week. For the national IABs the answer will shape their plans, for the pan-European agencies and media owners the answer will focus their budgets, and for those new to the industry, the answer will reveal the breadth of the online research agenda.

Here I’ve collated a few of the key points that emerged:

• Metrix Lab: “The brand- building power of online - translating that into the effectiveness of media is the only way to prove what the new media mix should be”.
• ComScore’s research on users’ behaviour shows how it’s now possible to measure the different types of behaviour online.
• The Search Works: “Everyone is trying to educate the marketers, but we need to teach them how to look at metrics, how to understand campaign activity, how online behaviour really works; more studies, more often”.
• Yahoo: “You can’t just focus on the web, the role of mobile is swelling and that’s where more research attention is needed.”
• Interactive agencies (many): “Understanding the concrete effects of web campaigns is key. Not only on direct response, but also between different media channels. It is easy to measure response but that doesn’t mean people are measuring the right response metrics in the right way. What happens if we don’t go for print as part of the campaign? What happens if we do? We need this kind of mixed media research.”
• “In the Netherlands we need to translate the digital marketing language into more basic terms so that finance directors and marketing execs can shift the budgets quickly and understand what it means for them, how it increases the business, sales, purchase etc.”
• United Internet (Germany): “There isn’t a single simple model in cross media. We need to understand if the metrics work for all of the products. We have to focus on different media mixes for different products. What ideal media mix is there for food? What is the best media mix for cars companies? How does this differ from the media mix for finance sector?”
• Metrix Lab: “When firms like Procter & Gamble decide to invest a lot of money in online to increase their brand awareness, it’s important that the learnings are conveyed back into future campaigns. That means understanding how to use the metrics, and then doing a number of internal case studies. The industry needs to prove that a brand can be built online the same as in tv, radio or other classic channels. Then you need to explain the value each cannel brings. Get the maths right and you have cost per sale figures for the highstreet purchases that can be directly related to the web.”

The question is: what are your thoughts? What do you feel will change the market and get the switch to digital communication channels moving even faster?

Need more? Look out in the Ledership Council pages of www.IABeurope.ws and contact your national IAB for more research studies or Yahoo, Hitwise and i-Level for more about this.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Why multiple media in a single campaign? And at what frequency for each channel?

That’s the question Roy Patel’s team tackled at Metrix Lab when they came to chat with us at the IAB Europe Leadership Council last week. Let’s face it it’s not an easy one. The theory of combining media channels together may seem simple, but quantifying the effects is a massive challenge.

The theory goes that if you see a message in one channel such as newspapers, and it’s echoed in a second channel such as the web, then the combined effect is much greater. A first exposure in an additional channel often delivers a bigger impact than a second exposure in the same channel. When I teach marketing I usually call this the 2+2=5 effect. Add to this the fact that different channels talk to our senses differently, and you start to appreciate the complexity. Then factor in the differences in the nature of the impact – for example how radio needs a high frequency to build recognition, but cinema needs only a few views to do the same. On top of this there are the differences in the price of each media channel, the targeting, the wastage levels and the calls to action: no, being a strategic media planner is not an easy task.

And the web just complicates it all further by creating a marcoms channel that can address pretty much any part of the advertising process from awareness, through brand activation to delivering the sale. You’d need some cutting edge econometric modelling to read this landscape and distil the rules for an effective campaign.

Enter Metrix Lab: their landmark studies in strategic media mix modelling in Europe are showing planners not only which media channels to use, but the exact frequency of exposures you need to get the best results for your campaign.

How does it work? Metrix Lab look at which media channels people are viewing and from that learn about their behaviour and the type of advertising they’re exposed to. This forms the basis of an analysis of advertising effectiveness. By marrying up media channel consumption, advertising exposures, and the viewers’ attitudes to these brands, they’re able to start unbundling cause and effect.

“For me it’s all about OTS: when have people actually confronted media” explains Patel. “The real challenge is that it’s tough to really test the effectiveness advertising across different media. This type of econometric modelling needs big samples and a powerful methodology, but get it right and it changes the way a business behaves.”

Theory: follow the steps...
• The weight of each media channel in a campaign needs to be change
• New research techniques are unlocking the answer
• When they’re run they typically reveal classic media are over used, with such a high frequency of views per person that the final few exposures do almost nothing for the advertiser
• If budgets are moved into the less used media – typically including the web – then the uplift in the campaign’s results are significant
• To advertise smartly online advertisers don’t need to create new budgets, just move the budgets they have around and they can enjoy better results

Case study: Spain
“In Spain the challenge for the industry was really clear: how do you get the big spenders to change their use of the media mix, upweighting online”, says Patel. “On the McDonalds campaign we worked with MSN and OMD Digital to gain the insights, taking large samples of more than three thousand people to look at the impact of the different channels.”

The research explored the branding effect of online: awareness, image and purchase intent. The objective most under the microscope was purchase intent because McDonalds were looking for the link to sales.

In terms of the campaign, there was an integrated look and feel in the creative work across all media, but with very different messages carried in each of the media channels. The web looked like press, but different calls to action.

In terms of results, the campaign proved that online built the brand. The uplifts in brand image were a massive 19% across the overall campaign, but the role of the internet was even greater. With some of the campaigns Metrix Lab researched, the frequency of TV campaign topped 22 views per person, suggesting that there could be significant wear-out. Crunch the numbers and it revealed those last few views were doing almost nothing to boost brand metrics. In fact, after the first 20% of the TV budget had been spent, there was hardly any incremental reach on the campaign: more spend wasn’t touching more people, it was just hitting the same people again and again.

With web advertising running at much lower levels (not much more than an average of 6 views per person), raising the frequency of the campaign would still deliver a significant uplift. And for younger audiences who were less exposed to classic media, it would also reach new people. That was a finding echoed from US research for McDonald’s where it had also become clear that a large segment of 18-34 year olds just couldn’t be reached cost-effectively through television any more.

In Spain, Metrix Lab’s analysis proved that the last 10% of the budget spent in TV delivered no significant change in purchase intent. Conclusion? Ditch the final part of the television budget and switch it into online. The findings for the media planners were that the optimal media mix for this campaign should have had the web on around 9% of total advertising spend rather than the 2% actually invested. It’s a dramatic change, but it echoes the cross-media optimisation research IAB US started back in 2001. The wider implications are even greater. This campaign was a brand building campaign for a product that couldn’t be bought or even researched online. In sectors like finance, motoring and travel, where the web now forms the main place for purchase research, the mix should clearly be even higher.

Takeouts from the session?
• Pioneering study
• Campaign frequency in TV was more than 22 vs just over 6 on the web
• Media wastage was high in television
• There was a 51% increase in message association
• New research proved that media mix should have been 9% in online, not 2% for McDonalds
• Further studies from Metrix Lab have placed the web even higher, at 14% for the best results
• And online with offline is a big boost: same budget, better results.

• McDonald’s has now changed its marketing mix as a result of the work

I'm sure Roy's team will be pleased to share with you more of the details. if you'd like to talk about presenting research at the European IAB meetings then just mail me: danny@digitalstrategyconsulting.com ...or add comments on this blog page.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Let’s get engaged

What is engagement with media all about? How can we define it? What does it tell us? What are the relationships between the impact of communication through the different media channels? And why does online appear to be that much more deeply engaging?

These are just a few of the questions that appear once you start investigating what engagement means, and while the industry doesn’t yet have an answer, it is starting to uncover the roadmap to getting there. Some new insights from NetRatings are starting to show how you can measure some of the basic metrics for different types of engagement.

We don’t have the language that describes engagement yet, but online as a media channel can deliver an intimacy, response and connectedness rarely seen in other media. It can be a brand activation tool that prompts us to act; at the same time it can be a customer service channel or the actual sales process. The advertising copy can encourage real involvement from the customer, and with other media unable to compete on this scale, it’s clear that it’s up to the online industry to seek out the metrics.

Starting metrics for understanding website performance:
• People – this measures the popularity of a website, normally we talk about unique users
• Visits – this is the number of times people have logged on to the site
• Pages – pages per person gives a sense of the amount of involvement people are having with the site
• Time – the new measurement frontier that explores in one way how important the importance of the site in our lives

“Popularity just doesn’t tell the real story. Nor do visits, which might be useful for understanding loyalty, but nothing more,” explains Alex Burmaster from NetRatings. “Everyone uses impressions, but that doesn’t mean it tells the full story.”

A history of engagement
The engagement debate is one the online industry has flirted with since 2000. That was when a group of us came together in the UK to form the joint industry committee ‘JICNET’ project to explore smarter ways to measure website audiences to help media planners get it right. JICNET led to a second project which helped improve the data from NetRatings and other providers, and that led to the JICIMS group that took the work further.

A new landscape
Those metrics of impressions and visits are still valuable, and underpin much of the industry today, but they still represent an era of metrics that was locked into an older generation of web publishing. The landscape has shifted again, and in a world of AJAX, social networking and Web 2.0, metrics like the page impression are looking dated somewhat. Web Analytics 2.0 needs new vocabulary and new structures. That was the thrust of my lectures at the European Emetrics Summit this year (see http://analytics.digitalstrategyconsulting.com for some of the videos).

Page views will matter less as the technical architecture of the web moves on. The model of the page view can’t deal with the environments of chat, technologies, toolkits and virtual worlds that people increasingly use on the web. Add in the way that web pages now might include layers of applications (rather than static content) and you have a completely new set of rules to measure.

Time is one of the keys
Ebay is a case in point. The page impression figures for this retail giant have always been staggering, but new insights from NetRatings show that 100m hours was spent by Europeans on Ebay. Even more extreme are the new virtual reality communities: what comes through is that if you look at the amount of time people spend on a site like Second Life, you’ll discover that it tops seven minutes per person, but ask for the page impression numbers and it barely features on the radar.

Next step? Active focus
As for the future, it’s clear there’s a long way to go. The desktop is increasingly cluttered, multitasking has become the norm, the screen is a gateway to myriad services, and the relations between locally run software applications like Word or Excel, and what lies at the end of a Firefox browser is getting increasingly blurred.

There’s no answer to this yet, but NetRatings are doing some smart stuff with their desktop meter, and by downloading a software tracker onto their panel members’ computers, they’re able to learn exactly what is getting the attention. This could help cut through the chaos that’s coming to measurement and unbundled the mass of activity mashed-up on the user’s desktop into meaningful threads of data that can be read, analysed and interpreted.

Whatever happens in the future of web enabled computing, it’s clear that the metric of ‘time’ will be key, and within that the idea of ‘active focus’ will be one of the most powerful levers.

Need more? Contact Alex and the NetRatings team, www.IABeurope.ws, or your national IAB for more.