Direct Response vs Brand Advertising in today's digital age
New studies suggest that direct response is trending upwards at the expense of brand advertising. Marketers appear to be responding to the trend across North America, where proudly sporting brands and logos has become a thing of the past. I remember when a Roots sweater and Adidas shell-toe shoes were on everyone's back-to-school shopping list. Apparently, those days are fading away as consumers’ decisions are increasingly based on social consciousness, or what the brand is doing for the greater good - and those same consumers love sharing their goodwill with their social circles. It’s a significant shift in attitude towards brands. If the shift is industry-wide, you might even wonder: is ad-blocking’s popularity a symptom of the slow dissolution of brand loyalty?
In any case, direct-response seems to be the way to weather the change.
Digital Advertising Trends 2016 Report: In a recent survey of Canadian senior marketers, numbers showed a trend away from brand-focused advertising messages
The Culture Vulture: 2015 Trends Report:
The appetite for wearing big logos is waning.
A short terminology review:
Direct response advertising is designed to generate an instant response from the viewer. For digital advertising, the intended response might be a website visit to purchase or sign-up. Unlike brand advertising, the emphasis is on the immediate action. Anytime you see a button with “Find out more”, “Book now!”, or “Shop now!”, you’re looking at a direct-response ad. “See if you qualify!” And “Exclusive Offer” are common calls-to-action.
Direct-response, as you can see, has been around a long time… it's been used to sell everything from accordions to newsprint jackets - they're the NEW RAGE!
As for brand advertising, I think Elon Musk defines it well:
Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.- Elon Musk
Regardless of how or why brand advertising is falling away, the new preference for direct-response marketing means that agencies and advertisers will need the help of their ad tech to measure how consumers respond to a variety of calls to action, in order to optimize their strategy.
The difference between direct-response marketing now and back in the days of the newsprint jacket is that marketers today have to navigate multiple screens and advertising platforms. As a result, they also have the added challenge of staying focused on the original campaign objective, or risk being buried under a mountain of data. When you’re tracking performance, your campaign results increase in complexity as time goes on. This is especially true of programmatic campaigns. Marketers are challenged to stay focused, pivoting performance and audience data around their main goal. Thankfully, the main goal in a direct-response campaign is usually a fairly straight-forward conversion. Measurement of conversions cross-device and cross-channel is yet another hurdle, so support teams and APIs have also become part of the modern digital solution.
As we've seen over many generations, the weight-loss industry has message and urgency down to an art.
My feeling is that advertising is steadily becoming about the personal satisfaction consumers get from their brand commitments in the larger picture, and this is fueling the preference toward direct-response. After all, social media accounts are essentially showcases for personal brands, so with every buying decision, people are subconsciously asking themselves
How can clicking on this ad elevate my brand? or
What does supporting this product say about me (to my online network)?.
It’s easy to see how the new generation of savvy, bold consumers want more than just the allure of a brand name. These consumers know that their attention is valuable, and direct-response campaigns are a way to acknowledge that value. Just like the accordion sellers of yore, brands today can use creativity and boldness to build instant, meaningful connections with their markets – and perhaps they can even develop their own social consciousness at the same time.
Guest article by AdGear Technologies, Inc.