The 5 Keys To Modern Brand Campaigns
Brand advertising is changing quickly, as brand and performance tactics merge to form a new discipline we call modern branding. This is a digital strategy that employs machine learning and real-time optimization to achieve better outcomes. For example, modern branding helped Invisalign grow searches for its brand by more than 100% and revenues by 21%.
Successful modern branding campaigns have five things in common:
1. Going beyond demographics
Traditional brand campaigns focus on demographics, which can lead to inaccurate generalizations about customers. For example, only 31% of searches for video games are from men 18-34.
Instead, modern branding campaigns focus on customers’ interests, life events or the products/services they’re in-market for. Developing a clearer view of the audience yields stronger results, boosting awareness by more than 50%, consideration by over 30%, and intent by more than 40%, according to studies.2
YouTube Maximize Lift optimizes for consideration by analyzing which customers started considering the brand after being exposed to the campaign, then showing the campaign to similar customers. This form of automation can drive up to 125% more consideration than other types of YouTube campaigns.
Another approach favored by modern branding advertisers is to target customers with a high lifetime value by creating custom audiences based on multiple factors such as ZIP code, income or interests.
2. Going beyond reach
In today’s complex media environment, reach alone can’t predict the effectiveness of brand campaigns. Not all ad impressions are created equal due to differences in viewability and efficacy across channels. And reach doesn’t account for the impact of creative quality.
Modern brand campaigns use reach to measure the breadth of a campaign, but also track a campaign’s impact on brand metrics, for instance, “Increase awareness with in-market moms from 40% to 60% over the next three months.”
3. Optimization in real time
Many traditional brand campaigns start with a budget and media plan, then evaluate results after the campaign has run. There is little opportunity for in-campaign optimization.
Modern branding campaigns start with the desired brand goal, then estimate required budgets by analyzing audience size, target lift and the per-customer cost of that lift (based on historical campaigns). In the table below this approach is applied to the example goal I mentioned earlier—the advertiser wants to lift awareness among in-market moms from 40% to 60%, which we can now calculate will require a budget of $600,000.
Once the campaign starts, advertisers can monitor progress using Brand Lift surveys and get real-time data about campaign performance. They have greater control and can optimize outcomes by shifting money to the best-performing campaign elements.
Finally, track the overall impact of the campaign on the entire audience using Google Consumer Surveys or by putting a brand survey inside a banner ad targeted at the campaign’s audience (see below for output). This population-level data is essential to better understand the impact of campaigns.
4. Going beyond MMMs
Modern branding campaigns use marketing mix modeling (MMM) (modernized for the digital age), but also employ other tactics to evaluate impact.
One of the tactics is to not worry about the long-term impact of branding. CMOs who can effectively demonstrate that brand advertising drives short-term sales can instead agree with their CFO on a payback period (e.g., six months). After all, campaigns that pay for themselves quickly don’t need to be scrutinized over the long term.
In many industries, demonstrating the short-term impact of branding on sales is hard. In this case, a good approach is to correlate brand metrics with future sales. For instance, unaided awareness is correlated with car insurance policy sales, consideration is a good predictor of movie launch success, and website visits often predict restaurant sales.
For many companies, brand searches are a good predictor of future sales. In the chart below, for example, you can see how a campaign increased brand searches by 16%.
5. Budgeting based on results
As we discussed earlier, traditional brand campaigns are budgeted from the top down, starting with a defined budget (e.g., 5% of revenues) split between brand and performance based on a predetermined ratio (e.g., 60/40).
Modern branding employs a flexible, iterative budgeting process based on results—the profits from performance and the brand lift from branding.
To achieve this, first transition to a flexible performance budget. Don’t change performance or brand budgets, but pick a small region and allocate enough performance budget to maximize profits there. Once you prove that this approach works, scale it up to other regions.
Next, shift the brand budgeting process to start with goals and discover the budget required to reach them. For example, the analysis below shows that the budget required to achieve all the brand’s goals is $20 million, with a payback period of six months, and a two-year impact on profit of $60 million. This detailed analysis, updated monthly, builds trust with the CFO and hopefully unlocks more budget.
Modern branding can be transformational, but the pivot to it will take some time and require new skills. Many brands start small, trying it in one region. This is what the U.S. Navy did when it ran a pilot campaign using modern branding tactics. The results were so good it changed the media mix for the entire campaign from 70% TV to 100% digital within 18 months.
Credit: Ad Age