This report describes a multi-channel advertising campaign in the UK by Starbucks, the coffee shop chain, and compares the role of online advertising to the other channels. The online campaign delivered strong reach for a lower cost when compared with other channels used in the campaign. Online advertising reached audiences which did not see press or outdoor ads and built product awareness. In this campaign multiple exposures to online ads increased their effectiveness.

Building Brands Online: Starbucks

Welcome to the first instalment of the IAB's Building Brands Online Trilogy. Through this series of cross media research projects focusing on the FMCG sector, we aim to show the ways in which digital advertising can be used to effectively build brands.

To begin the series we have looked at the effectiveness of the online campaign to promote a new instant coffee brand, Starbucks VIA. Coming up in parts two and three we will be unveiling similar research into campaigns for the Nestlé brand, Maggi So Juicy and the GSK energy drink Lucozade.

Online plays a key branding role – Delivering reach in a cost effective way

The research showed that when compared to other media, online was the biggest driver of reach – and the most cost effective.

The online campaign reached 52% of the online population. This compares with the outdoor campaign which reached 40% of the online population and the press campaign which reached 34%.

What's more, the online campaign was seen to deliver this audience at a fifth of the cost of the press campaign, illustrating that digital advertising delivers strong results at a competitive price.

Online complements other media

Online was also found to have a highly complementary reach with press and outdoor. Some 65% of those exposed to the online campaign didn't see the press advertising. What's more, 55% of those exposed to the online activity did not see the outdoor campaign.

This highlights the fact that brands which simply rely on more 'traditional' channels are missing out on a huge potential market.

A key tool for launching new brands

The research shows that a major strength of online is its ability to drive awareness, thus making it a key tool for launching new brands.

Product awareness grew by 19% between the control group and the exposed group. Amongst heavy internet users (usage of over 21 hours per week) this uplift was 77%. Meanwhile, ad awareness rose by 41% between the two groups.

Analysing the results by gender, the largest increase in awareness was achieved in the male audience, while women's purchase intent increased sharply across age groups (+40% in women aged between 35-44 and 55+).

What's perhaps most significant is the fact that online was found to deliver this increase in product awareness at 80% the cost of press and half the cost of outdoor.

Product Awareness – Cost efficiency across all media


The Research was conducted using GfK's Exposure Effects.dx.

Online advertising is tagged to identify which users on the panel have been exposed to the campaign enabling us to create 'exposed' and 'control' groups. These groups are then surveyed regarding the campaign and the difference in results between the two is attributed to the advertising activity. Exposure to other media is modelled based on claimed behaviour.

Key findings

Online delivered substantial incremental reach – the online campaign reached 52% of the online population compared to press which reached 34%.

Online worked in a complementary way with press and outdoor. 65% of those exposed to the online activity did not see the press advertising.

Online was an efficient platform to launch new brands and build awareness cost efficiently. The online campaign increased product awareness by 19%.

Heavy internet users responded particularly well - showing an uplift of 77% in product awareness.

Frequency of exposure to online advertising show uplifts in brand metrics such as favourability and purchase intent. Brand favourability grew by 17% between one and two exposures; purchase intent grew by 21%.

Online social was the most cost efficient medium for reach and increasing Favourability and Purchase Intent – social delivered stronger reach than press – at a seventh of the cost of press.

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