Engaging online audience key to digital success

16 February 2010

NEW YORK: Brands and media owners should focus on "engagement", "relevance" and "customization" to make an impact with consumers using digital media, a study from Accenture has argued.

The company's report, How to Energize Your Digital Revenues, stated that the rise of new media has ushered in the era of "performance marketing".

Despite the fact that these platforms offer unique opportunities for tracking and measurement, many corporations "still hold onto their analogue mindsets," the consultancy's research added.

Other companies, however, are seeking to take full advantage of these developments, with many advertisers, like Coca-Cola, shifting their agencies from fixed rate to performance-based remuneration models.

According to Accenture, businesses hoping to derive the maximum benefit from digital media must provide customers with information tailored to their individual needs, be it on mobile or the web.

Communications should also take the form of a two-way conversation, with consumers being able to customise the content they receive in line with their personal preferences.

With regard to metrics, clickthroughs, page views and the number of banners ads are also less important than gaining an in-depth understanding of the audience that is using a particular portal.

"This means adopting a truly digital mindset. The age of push marketing is behind us. What counts now are dialogue, engagement and relevance," Accenture's paper asserted.

"Digital channels that can deliver consumers with established interests can charge handsomely for that capability," it continued.

Amazon is one organisation that has successfully employed this kind of approach, recommending products to shoppers based on their previous purchases, and publishing user-generated reviews.

It also suggests various "groups" which netizens may be interested in joining, and modifies its homepage every time someone returns to its site.

Blendtec has provided one example of how to engage the internet audience, promoting its blenders through a number of tongue-in-cheek online videos.

In each case, its ceo, Tom Dickson, subjects a different item, ranging from an iPhone to a handful of golf balls, to the "Will it Blend?" challenge.

Some 84 videos have been produced to date, with the campaign attracting more than 60 million hits in its first year alone, during which time Blendtec's retail sales rose by 500%.

YouTube, the video-sharing portal owned by Google, similarly leveraged popular interest in the Super Bowl, and the ads featured during the game, to increase its traffic numbers.

The service's Ad Blitz platform gathered together all the commercials featured in the 2009 contest, allowing people to view, share and post comments on these spots.

Overall, it received 21 million hits, with 2.6 million votes also being cast in a poll to identify which creative idea was the best.

E*Trade, the web-based brokerage, also benefitted from this process, as its Super Bowl spot proved to be one of the most popular, resulting in a 19% uptick in applications in the week after the contest.

In the FMCG sector, Procter & Gamble has partnered with Accenture to develop an "intelligent digital platform", which is updated based on the prior behaviour of specific users, who can also customise the pages they access.

This portal will provide a wide range of data to the owner of Tide and Pampers, and enable regional managers to implement their own updates depending on the climate in their own market.

Marta Foster, vice president of business building solutions at P&G, said "digital is becoming an increasingly critical component in reaching consumers. We see digital as an opportunity for our brands to engage with consumers in new ways."

Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff