Traditional marketers and communicators are obsessed with achieving their objectives. Web marketers and communicators are obsessed with helping customers achieve their objectives.
"Brand advertising, the kind you're used to seeing on TV and in print, isn't nearly as big on the Internet as the search ads dominated by Google," writes Peter Kafka for the Wall Street Journal in January 2010. "But that's got to change, as marketers realize that traditional advertising works on the Web, too."
"The above is an article of faith among a certain kind of Web publisher," Kafka continues. "And some of them are even paying for studies to prove that display ads-basically all the ads you see that aren't part of search results-really do work on the Web. Except when they don't."
Kafka goes on to cite a study carried out for Yahoo that found that brand ads have some impact on those over 40. For those under 40 the impact of these ads is nearly zero; no impact.
What has happened to branding? How has such an important word been hijacked by such a narrow interest group? Whenever I hear branding being talked about these days I know I'm about to enter fairyland. Otherwise sensible people start talking gibberish and lose all track of reality.
Branding has become all about organizational narcissism, vanity, ego and self-delusion. It's all about what the organization wants (needy child that it is), where the organization wants to go, what excites the organization (or certain senior managers in it), what the organization wants you to do. Branding doesn't care about you, the customer. It sees you as a target, an entity it must convince to do what it wants.
A number of years ago, I remember buying books from Amazon. After I added a book to the basket I was brought to a page that had a huge ad for jewelry. I was taken aback. What does this have to do with buying a book, I thought? Amazon was 'excited' to tell me that they had just launched a new jewelry store. I wasn't excited. After a while I noticed that these disruptive branding ads that were unrelated to the task I was seeking to complete had disappeared.
What I learned much later was that these branding ads had not just annoyed Amazon's customers; they had negatively impacted sales and overall customer satisfaction and loyalty. Amazon had listened and removed the disruption.
When it comes to marketing and communication we need to measure both satisfaction and dissatisfaction, both positive and negative action. Sure, if you put a big ad for jewelry in front of 100 people you'll get 2 to click on it. And if you make it really annoying and intrusive, you might even get 5 to click. But what about the 95 that didn't click? To get those 5 clicks how annoyed did you make the 95?
Amazon has a great brand and tremendous customer satisfaction because it cares about the 95. It listens, measures, responds. I'm loyal to Amazon because I feel it's an organization that pays attention to my needs.
Traditional marketing is about getting attention. Web marketing is about paying attention.