Digital Advertising : A winning game plan (Part 2)

The digital advertising landscape is constantly evolving, which can be overwhelming for many local business owners and decision makers. Over the next few weeks, we are going to pull back the curtain and take a look at how you can build a winning game plan for your digital advertising. Last time we focused on building a solid foundation with your website. This week we will begin looking at how to set up clearly defined goals for branding campaigns.

Part 2: Set clearly defined goals 

It amazes me how many advertisers will run a campaign without first taking the time to define their objectives or how they plan to measure success. If you are going to spend your hard earned money on advertising, you should establish guidelines to determine if your money is being well spent or wasted.

Branding vs. Direct Response

Start simple. Is the primary goal of your campaign to change consumer behavior and perception over time (branding) or is it to drive an immediate action (direct response)?

If your primary goal is branding, you want high impact and high frequency ad placements. You also want to make sure you have a consistent messaging over time, and that your messaging effectively conveys why people should trust you and choose your business over others.

When thinking about the types of online ads to run for a branding campaign, try and find opportunities to establish authority, distinguish your message from the clutter and associate your brand with premium and relevant content.  Since you are trying to change behavior and perception over time, you want to make sure that you are targeting the right audience with your ads, and ultimately influencing the people you can help.

Some products to consider for a branding campaign include:

  • Behaviorally targeted display ads
  • Contextually targeted display ads
  • Native advertising and sponsored content
  • Larger display units (such as a 300×600 or homepage takeovers)
  • Sponsorships
  • Video (pre-roll or in-banner)
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest)
  • Reputation management

How will you measure success?

Once you know your objective, you need to establish how you will measure the effectiveness of the campaign. As you can probably guess, there are some big differences in how to analyze the success of a branding campaign vs. the success of a direct response campaign.

Branding is a long-term play. If your goals include establishing your business and brand as a trusted authority in your industry, and becoming top of mind for consumers, it’s going to take time. Success for a branding campaign goes far beyond clicks and requires establishing benchmarks.

Before starting your campaign, do a brand survey in the market to find out what people currently think about your business. Are they even aware that you exist? Once you know how your brand is actually perceived, you can set realistic expectations for how you want to see this perception changed over the life of the campaign. After that, periodically perform new surveys throughout the campaign to see if you are moving in the right direction.

Similarly, what has your website traffic been like over the last year? Are the people coming to your site quality leads that are converting, or are most people quickly bouncing off? An effective branding campaign should contribute to increased site traffic, especially through brand specific searches and direct visits, as well as an increase in the quality of your site traffic (if you are targeting the right audience). Without established benchmarks to begin with, you won’t be able to track your progress.

Additionally, take into consideration metrics such as view-throughs to see if the audience you are reaching with your ads is responding more over time.


Clearly defined goals are critical to a successful digital advertising strategy. While there is plenty of overlap between branding and direct response, it is vital to establish what your primary objectives are for any campaign you are running, and to closely monitor performance against established benchmarks. Next time we will take a look at how to set up goals and benchmarks for a direct response campaign.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>