Brands should go online in Germany: study

15 March 2010

HAMBURG: Major brands in Germany should consider directing around a fifth of their media budgets to the web, an in-depth study, led by Procter & Gamble, has found.

To deepen its understanding of the role of online advertising in the European nation, P&G teamed up with partners including Yahoo Germany, Microsoft Advertising and Axel Springer.

It divided the research process in to a number of stages, the first of which took the form of a "super group", made up of consumers and marketing experts, and which identified the best ad formats.

Based on these ideas, pre-testing exercises were carried out for different executions produced for Always and Blend-a-med Pro-Expert.

Finally, the company conducted three-month test campaigns, using a wide range of websites, for its Otto, Ariel and German Wings brands, with a panel of 1,261 consumers offering regular feedback.

Overall, its findings suggested that the "mood" of the individual internet user had a meaningful role in determining the impact of advertising.

More specifically, it argued that "happy activists", making up 39% of the online population, typically responded to positive messages.

By contrast, "focused pragmatists", some 29% of netizens, were more in favour of ads that emphasised functional benefits and provided information about special offers.

"Relaxed explorers", or 20% of the audience, typically accessed the net relatively infrequently, but were interested in hearing the latest news about brands.

"Stressed info-hoppers", a cohort making up 11% of the internet population, displayed the lowest level of favourability with regard to "mood-based" ads, and exhibited regular patterns of online behaviour.

Ads tailored to their specific surroundings were said to be the most effective, while inventory on information and communications sites had greater efficacy than that on entertainment channels.

Similarly, concentrating on weekends can be a successful tactic for brands, as people are more relaxed and "open" to marketing communications on Saturdays and Sundays.

Strategies based on achieving between four and six "contacts" with consumers over the course of a month also generally made the greatest impression, the report added.

Finally, to discover the optimal media plan, Procter & Gamble ran campaigns for Always and Blend-a-med Pro-Expert in three regions of Germany – Bremen, Bavaria and North-Rein Westphalia.

It used online panels of 2,000 shoppers to assess these efforts, developing a varied media mix in each area for comparative purposes.

Overall, this field work demonstrated that combining the internet and TV heightened the overall success of communications.

More specifically, investing around 20% of the total media budget online proved to be the optimal approach for established brands, but pegging this figure at 15% still had noticeable effects.

However, television remained the best medium for building brand awareness quickly, particularly for new products, but a web presence was found to enhance the impact of these traditional spots.

"We are going to comb through our media plans and see how they can be optimised based on the findings," Lothar Hocker, P&G's purchasing group manager, media and communications, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, said.

Data sourced from Microsoft Advertising/Horizon; additional content by Warc staff