LONDON: Mercedes-Benz, the luxury automaker, currently directs around half of its marketing budget in the UK to digital media, an approach it has adopted in response to changing behaviour among consumers in the country.

Anders Sundt Jensen, its vice president for brand communications, said digital is responsible for a higher share of its outlay in Britain than elsewhere in Europe, where this figure is typically well under 40%.

One of the key strategies adopted by the German firm has been to establish an in-house team with an expert understanding of how channels like the internet can best be utilised for commercial means.

"We don't have normal marketers just doing online ads, or just putting our TV ads online. For example, we have a whole department at our headquarters in Germany just doing digital marketing," Jensen argued.

A major challenge for brands using the web, however, is identifying which portals will offer a return on investment, and those that are unlikely to provide long-term payback.

"Two years ago there was so much hype around Second Life, and where is that today? The hype can make it hard to see what really is great and where to invest online," he argued.

Speaking at the same event as Jensen, Bernhard Glock, who will soon leave his role as Procter & Gamble's vice president of global media and communications, emphasised that privacy was a key issue.

"There are many areas where digital can lead the way. But there are also areas where it can be very dangerous. Experiment, but be very careful. Of all media in our research, digital is the least trusted, and word of mouth the most trusted."

"Even though social media is word of mouth, it's dangerous if you don't respect people's privacy, especially kids. We need to be very careful otherwise we'll be beaten by the regulator," he added.

Data sourced from New Media Age; additional content by WARC staff