Direct Response and brand awareness? Yes, you Cannes!


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Whilst the creative industry nursed its collective hangover following this year’s Creative Festival in Cannes and the Gutter Bar gleefully counted its money, it was interesting to read this year’s festival wrap up. Particularly the discussion around brand awareness versus direct response. While many brands are prioritising investment in targeted promotions to drive sales uplift, above brand-building and customer experience, Cannes Lions suggest that more astute marketers are bringing brand-building into tactical work.

How to harness the power of the brand to make every opportunity and touchpoint an occasion to engage is something that has been on our radar for a while.

In banner advertising we’ve been plagued by the myth that CTR is the best metric for measuring campaign success. I guess this is unsurprising, since 30 years ago (how was 1994 that long ago?) the clickthrough rate on the first banner ad was 44%, but recent research by Weil and Goldsmith suggests that today’s clickthough rates are lower than 0.1 per cent – so why bother with banners might be the obvious question? The reality, however, paints a very different picture. Comscore found that there is almost no link between CTR and conversion. You might find this surprising, but the study covered over 250 million impressions, over the course of 9 months, spread across 18 different advertisers, so the research is rigorous and the results reliable.

So why is this? Its because of brand versus sales. Eye-tracking studies reveal that both direct response and brand awareness campaigns result in an increase in brand awareness and customer loyalty, even when a person does not click on the banner. But there is a statistical increase in clicks for DR campaigns so in the rare instance a person clicks, they’ll do so on a sales-oriented campaign.

As a result of this it follows that brands should only produce DR campaigns, but defining success only in terms of clicks is very short sighted as this does not consider the levels of brand awareness and loyalty that are being generated just as a result of a person seeing a banner. And this shift in mindset has a significant impact on the creative; making banners both more appealing and effective, even though the CTR is reduced.

Clearly, given the discussion on the Croisette, this DR versus brand conundrum is not particular to digital display. We wholeheartedly support these more astute marketers and hope that they will be a growing demographic in the months to come as banners still have a lot to give!

Danielle Demkiw
As Managing Director, Danielle crosses the Ts and dot the Is at The Bannermen Business Headquarters (or TBMBHQ, as no one calls it). She has a passion for all things beautifully efficient and efficiently beautiful and helps run this Banner-Ship like the steadfast vessel that she is. Her life before The Bannermen? She worked as a business analyst before diving head first into a brief foray as a web developer. Her technical knowledge ensures that she knows the company inside out. As a bonus, she loves taking roles with big shoes to fill despite having actually, freakishly small feet.


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