Is Digital Advertising Critical for Brands?

Is Digital Advertising Critical for Brands?

September 26, 2017

by Nigel Hollis | September 20, 2017 | Kantar Millward Brown

I was recently asked to address the question ‘is digital critical for brands?’ Much as I was tempted to say no just for the hell of it, let’s just say I think the answer is that ‘critical’ is hyperbole. Can a brand survive without digital? Well, I believe that depends on the brand, category and country.

Indomie is Indonesia’s biggest selling brand of instant noodles and ranked 13th most valuable brand in the BrandZ Indonesia Top 50. Is it critical for Indomie to use digital advertising? Probably not. I suspect that outdoor and in-store advertising will have far more impact on its current sales. That said, is it important for Indomie to have a digital presence, a web site, videos on YouTube, Facebook page and the like, to be there when the digitally-enabled want to seek it out? Yes, otherwise it risks becoming a legacy brand at some point in the future, loved but forgotten.

However, if your brand only exists on the internet or relies on apps as part of its product portfolio then digital advertising is going to be critical. Is it critical for Commonwealth Bank, Australia’s largest retail bank, to have a complete suite of digital applications available for its customers and advertised online? You bet.

Witness the Chairman’s Statement from the 2016 Annual Report which states,

“Innovating purposefully and for the benefit of our customers has been at the centre of our strategy for the last 10 years. This focus has seen Commonwealth Bank deliver unparalleled digital banking capabilities, including our industry-leading CommBank app which is now regularly used by 3.7 million customers. In addition to providing frequent improvements for existing customers such as new “photo a bill” functionality for easy bill payment, new-to-bank customers can now download the CommBank app, open an account and start transacting immediately.”

But, in spite of its focus on digital transformation, do you think Commonwealth Bank only relies on digital advertising to promote its services? I don’t think so. Even digital natives spend their time watching TV, glancing at outdoor ads and listening to the radio now and again.

So the criticality of digital advertising will differ from good to have to must have. However, the biggest barrier to effective digital advertising is reaching someone when they are in the mood to pay attention to any advertising and then getting them to attend to your ad. Brands cannot take effectiveness for granted, which is why it is so important to have access to a suite of on-demand pre-test solutions to assess likely effectiveness ahead of time. Just because the media cost is low does not mean the money should be wasted.

But what do you think? Is digital advertising critical to brands? Please share your thoughts.

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