Best Practices: 2 Percent?
“Marketers Speak: Best Practices for Integrating Online Advertising in the Media Mix,” a late-afternoon session at Monday’s DoubleClick Insight 2004 conference, was billed as a tutorial of sorts from companies that have parlayed smart Internet advertising into product or brand successes. But Unilever, one of the two companies presenting at the session, told the audience that Internet advertising amounted to just 2 percent of its overall media spend in 2003. That percentage remains the same in 2004, according to Ed Kim, interactive media manager, Unilever.
case study highlighted by Kim, Unilever’s 2002 launch of Axe deodorant body spray, may actually have diminished the company’s case for being an exemplar of best practices in Internet advertising. In less than two years, Axe has become a top-five brand within its category, yet based on Kim’s description of the launch, online advertising seemed almost irrelevant to its success. Rather, public relations and event marketing, (sampling at local bars with the “Axe Girls,” a gala launch on the Intrepid battleship, events at a MTV-like “Real World” house in Miami Beach), appear to have done most of the heavy lifting.
The panel’s other participant, ING director of online marketing Jurie Pieterse, told the audience that when the company debuted in 2000, it consciously avoided online ads. “We didn’t want to be branded as a ‘dot-com bank,’” Pieterse recalled. In fact, ING didn’t experiment with Internet advertising until the fourth quarter of 2001, during which it determined that Web ads were more expensive for customer acquisition efforts than using TV ads.
ING’s Web advertising supporters, however, were unbowed. In 2002, the company upped online advertising’s share of the media budget to 3 percent, and quickly saw better results in terms of customer acquisition costs. Last year, ING put more than 25 percent of its media dollars online, making it the fifth-largest bank advertiser on the Internet.
Pieterse credited company executives who oversaw the budgets for mediums that lost dollars to the Internet (TV, outdoor, and direct mail), noting how they quickly and willingly acknowledged that the money would be better spent online. Just as important, however, might have been the online team’s ability to frame its needs in a way that could readily be understood by techies and bean counters alike.
By focusing on the metric of customer-acquisition cost, Pieterse and his team “gave a point of reference that people could understand,” he said. “Chest-beating and saying ‘we got three times the click-through rate’ doesn’t mean much to financial people … You have to make sure