Building a Brand in a Screen-Agnostic World

greyweedFor years now, we’ve all believed digital marketing campaigns were about direct response. As an evolution of 1990s thinking, it made perfect sense. With just one click, users could help advertisers measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and, with luck, turn that click into revenue. Instantly.

But now a comprehensive new Nielsen study, The State of Digital Brand Advertising, reveals a steady shift back to brand advertising.

Follow the Money

The report provides significant numbers to back up the claim. In 2013, digital direct response campaigns outpaced brand advertising, though just barely. In 2014, brand advertising actually opened up a significant lead, with 33 percent more budget going to brand than direct response.

And the pace of that change is accelerating significantly. In 2013, 55 percent of marketers reported increasing their digital brand budgets. In 2014, that number shot up to 70 percent.

And we are not just talking about a bigger share of the digital pie. The pie itself is getting bigger all the time, as the share of traditional media budgets stay flat.

“Most marketers increased their use of online and mobile platforms, while usage of offline media either stayed the same or decreased,” the report finds.

How Do You Know It’s Working?

With digital direct response, success metrics are built right into the process. But as marketers embrace digital brand advertising, they run into that age-old question: How do you measure the success of your brand campaign?

And as brand advertising goes screen-agnostic, it means there are even more channels you need to track and understand—often for a single campaign. The screen-agnostic approach enables marketers to view each screen as an equivalent value to resonate with their consumers and drive behavior. But that’s no easy task. And so far, it is not happening—at least, not enough.

“Only 17 percent of agencies surveyed reported using a relevant reach metric for all campaigns,” the Nielsen study finds, “and only 21 percent of agencies reported using a relevant resonance metric for all campaigns.”

Best Practices

To make screen-agnostic advertising a reality, the Nielsen report suggests a set of best practices marketers can use to close the gap between expectations and agency and media practices. Here they are in a nutshell.

  • Collaborate around a common currency for success. “Marketers, agencies and media owners should invest in technologies that will allow them to directly collaborate around setting objectives and measuring performance,” the report says.
  • Optimize the right performance metrics in real-time. “Getting the right data in real-time is necessary for in-campaign optimization.”
  • Offer reach guarantees. “In a marketplace where only one in ten marketers strongly believe reach claims, audience guarantees can be a way to stand out from the crowd.”
  • Provide benchmarks for performance context. “Measure every digital brand advertising campaign using relevant metrics, and use the resulting data to build benchmarks around the parameters most important to your organization.”

Want to read more about brand-building? Check out this interview with Yammer director Cindy Alvarez on

Image credit: greyweed

Posted in Sales & Marketing by Lisa Petrucci

Lisa Petrucci is Vice President of Dun & Bradstreet Global Alliances and Partnerships.

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