Online branding can be done

In today’s “Around the net in online marketing: section two”, John Battelle argues that the web is lousy for branding initiatives. I would like to argue that point. I think the web can be used for branding initiatives if done correctly. Some of John’s points are very valid about the low click rates and typical direct response metrics tied to online marketing.

I believe branding can be accomplished with direct response marketing, especially with the economy entering a recession. Display ads don’t need to be amazing creative masterpieces, their goal is to drive a click to a landing page that the user can learn more or engage with the brand. Whats wrong with a banner saying click here to learn more from a top 20 brand? I don’t see anything wrong, and think Coke Zero did a great branding job online during March Madness with 100% online promotion.

Brands can go online and push promotions and differentiating factors on a CPC buy and only buy clicks from interested individuals where a TV or two-page print add is paid upfront. The risk is greatly reduced of looked at from a media viewpoint.

Brands that are willing to take the risk and use the economies of scale that the internet has to offer might become the big winners after the economy turns around and consumers are more confident and begin spending. The other large benefit the internet has to offer brand marketers is tracking and optimization. Print and TV can be targeted by publication and site, but not much further. Online marketing allows the net to be cast wide and far and then honed back in based upon results, oh yeah, creative can be tested as well.

All of this leads me to believe that branding campaigns can be successful online. With the technology of rich media banners placing TV commercials in a banner (Coke Zero lawyer campaign) to buying on a CPC or CPM below $1, online marketing offers brand advertisers a wide variety of options to pursue. I agree it does not have the cache of a Super Bowl spot, or a 1/4 page spread in the WSJ, but I can stretch the dollar a lot further and get more eyeballs and engagement with the brand than a traditional media campaign.

Overall, brand marketers need to be media cognostic and not worry about the media that is being used, but choose the right media for the campaign objectives whatever they might be. After all, GM would not come out and say they are shifting 50% of their ad spending to online marketing if I was completely wrong.

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