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Marketers will continue to increase their online ad presence this year, with much of that added spending going toward branding efforts, according to a February 2013 survey fielded by CMO Council and developed by Vizu, a Nielsen company. The study found that whereas in previous years, online ads had served primarily direct-response purposes, this year, marketers are moving to a more even mix of brand-focused efforts alongside direct response, with 64% planning to do a mix of both.
And in fact, brand advertising will see a big increase in spending, with 63% planning to up investments vs. 51% who will put more dollars to direct response. This is also a reflection of the lesser role branding has played in digital advertising previously.
When it comes to specific tactics that will see growth, US brand marketers, in particular, will double down on social media, mobile and video this year, with 70%, 69% and 64%, respectively, increasing their use of these tactics. Far fewer respondents planned to put more dollars to rich media and display, and in fact, display advertising will see the largest percentage of marketers decreasing their investment.
Still, there are hindrances keeping marketers from putting more dollars to digital branding initiatives, especially difficulty measuring return on investment (ROI). Sixty-nine percent of marketers surveyed said they would increase online brand ad spending if there was improved clarity around ROI, and similarly, 68% said they wanted to be able to measure the impact of the advertising. It seems that marketers are somewhat more confident in their ability to measure offline ROI vs. online. A lesser, but still notable one-third of respondents sought the ability to evaluate online brand advertising according to the metrics used for offline brand advertising.
The survey also asked brand marketers specifically which metrics they would like to use to measure their online ad spending: Fifty-four percent said they would prefer to use the same metrics they use for offline campaigns, alongside additional metrics particular to online.
In keeping with survey respondents’ interest in upping their digital branding efforts, eMarketer estimates that branding will grow its share of digital ad spending during the next few years. This year, US advertisers will spend $17.46 billion on branding, or 41.6% of total digital spend. By 2017, branding will grow to $29.33 billion, or a 48.5% share.
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