Here's some good news for people who don't like Internet pop-up ads, maybe, which we'll assume includes pretty much everyone.
A new survey of more than 450 advertising executives conducted by Digiday and sponsored by brand analytics and market research firm Vizu, has found that 60% of the 2012 budget of respondents would be allocating more spend toward brand advertising, indicating that online branding may actually surpass direct response marketing in ad spend.
Or that's how Vizu interprets the data, though frankly you might think otherwise when you see the actual numbers.
To unpack the terminology a little, "direct response advertisments" are ads that elicit direct response between consumers and businesses, like pop-up ads, email marketing, social media ads like Facebook's "sponsored stories," and/or search engine optimization. Branding, on the other hand, creates an identifiable personality surrounding a given product or service, through advertising that does not invoke immediate response from the consumer.
Vizu's report says that 64% of respondents plan to increase their online branding in 2012, with 22% saying they will increase this area of ad spend by 20%. On the other hand, only 56% of respondents said they would increase their direct response ads, and only 15% saying they would increase this to 20%.
If you're thinking to yourself that these percentages don't actually represent a significant statistical difference, especially considering the size of the data sample, well, Vizo CEO Dan Beltramo agrees. "These growth predictions are clearly optimistic, but very encouraging nonetheless," says Beltramo, in the company's statement.
Vizu's speciality in the online ad business is optimization of Brand Lift, which Vizu defines as "the percentage increase in the primary marketing objective of a brand advertising campaign." So it is perhaps in the company's interest to interpret these statistics "optimistically," as Beltramo says.
Vizu's report also asked respondents what would make them spend more on ad branding, as opposed to direct response. 68% indicated "Improved clarity around the actual return on brand advertising investment" as the key determiner.
Other significant responses included, Ability to verify my brand advertising created the desired result (e.g. increased awareness of my product)," which 56% of respondents indicated, with 53% indicating "Ability to use the same metrics to evaluate brand advertising effectiveness online as are used offline."
"These issues are all indicative of a 'metrics morass' in the online medium, which often leads to information overload for brand marketers when trying to determine the efficacy of their advertising,” said Beltramo in the company's statement. “In fact, 34% of respondents described themselves as 'drowning in data' when it comes to the online channel."
While these numbers might point to a trend toward branding and away from direct response, I think it's more probable that Vizu is just seeing what it wants to see.