Fast Company

Digital Media Spending, Strategy and Results - A long summer for media buyers and brand marketers

2008 has been a turbulent year for agency and brand marketers alike. With ad budgets pulled back but agency and brand marketing result expectations as great as ever, I've been spending a lot of my time on the road, addressing both parties at conferences like iMedia Connection's last agency summit and a host of other forums where marketers are seeking answers to the various dilemmas they face within their own domains.

One of the overarching debates across the speaking circuit and ad trades is whether or not the current focus on results is resulting in a shift of dollars from traditional to digital media, the more trackable, higher ROI piece of the pie. Good arguments exist on either side and, perhaps, the best point out that ultimately they will all converge. Likely true, but for now, what's performing best today?

Recently, I've been speaking to our agency partners and brand advertisers about this question as we reference their most recent results. Without disclosing competitive information, I'd like to throw out a few recent findings and then engage with anyone that might have more color, case studies or comments on the contribution.

Case 1: A traditional powerhouse in the health and wellness category began advertising online to generate new subscribers for its facilities in 2007. Prior to 2007, the brand had spent 15 or more years advertising offline and via broadcast only. Within the first year and a half of its digital media spend, 15% of all subcribers are now generated online with 65% of those leads cultivated through email and the remainder deriving from a combination of display and search. The company is just beginning to explore social media buys. How does this compare to your strategy and results?

Case 2: After surveying 20 million members, a household name in the dating category discovered that more that 50% of respondents reported learning about the network online. This was an astounding finding considering the relatively low cost of media online compared to the brand's substantially higher investment in broadcast. This has compelled the brand to begin more granular explorations of the potential impact of digital media on it branding initiatives. How do you measure the impact of your digital advertising initiatives on your brand?

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your thoughts.

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