Reckitt takes nuanced approach to online

08 October 2010

NEW YORK: Reckitt Benckiser, the household goods group, is building nuanced models to inform its US online strategy.

The company has doubled its annual internet video spend in America from $20m (€14.3m; £12.5m) to $40m this year, in recognition of the changing landscape.

A joint study released with ad network BrightRoll in May, utilising Nielsen's panel data, showed a five-month campaign via this medium boosted Air Wick Freshmatic and Scented Oils sales by 6%.

"We identified online video as the evolving media in the industry and a lot of white space in terms of being able to take a competitive advantage by using it," Marc Fonzetti, Reckitt's head of media, North America, told Forbes.

Reckitt has also partnered with specialist auditor Telemetry, which performs duties including preparation, delivery and verification of these ads.

Such a process enabled RB to produce coordinated policies covering all of its activity in this area, alongside constructing a single dashboard monitoring results.

Moreover, the owner of Finish and Calgon has built systems combining gross rating points for the net and TV.

Fonzetti argued a subtle appreciation of digital media was essential, based on potential impact rather than technical issues.

"Understand less about what new technology does and how it works but how does it facilitate business and work as yet another tool in your media and marketing arsenal," he said.

Demonstrating return on investment is a further key task for marketers, as even "small wins" can prove important.

"I made every opportunity to test count, by working with the media agency to develop strong plans and the research folks to make it measurable and accountable," Fonzetti continued.

"It's hard to ignore strong results, no matter how small at first, when you have proof that you can scale."

There is also a pressing impetus to "bridge the gap" between established and emerging channels, which generally require a "translator".

"Traditional media and digital media talk different languages, metrics, currencies and results," said Fonzetti.

"Marketers need to think in big picture, big dollars and results such as short term sales and long term brand equity. Digital media vendors and even agencies still talk in impressions, clicks, and engagement."

Fonzetti suggested the downturn and rapid technological advancements mean marketers have regularly abandoned attempts at innovation, adopting an overly cautious approach instead.

"Too many businesses are confused, overwhelmed and tend to go back to what they know," he said.

Providing reliable information, like online gross rating points, could be a valuable initial step in encouraging experimentation.

"We need common metrics and currencies across more 'sexy media' such as social media, search and mobile applications," said Fonzetti. "We need to determine how an engaged eyeball is different from a passive eyeball."

"This needs to happen throughout the entire process from truly integrated planning, to buying, to establishing success criteria and metrics, to research and, of course, when talking to marketers and executive management."

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff