Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Digital Sends 'Campaigns' into Retreat

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Digital Sends 'Campaigns' into Retreat

Article excerpt

On 21 March 1918, Erich Ludendorff launched the Spring Offensive, Germany's bid to end World War I. In just five hours, the Germans fired more than 1m shells, and lightly-equipped storm troopers cut deep swathes into British lines.

However, it was the very speed of the German advance that proved to be its undoing, as the troops outran their supply lines and ended up eating the horses on which their progress depended.

Pace is everything, and to achieve any goal it is vital to have a firm, but flexible, plan for how to deploy resources over time. Using different assets to support each other as a campaign develops was as crucial to Ludendorff as it is to today's marketers.

The need to achieve cut-through in the cluttered media environment leads marketers to concentrate their resources, focusing on target groups or times of year where their message is most likely to resonate, and accepting that it is likely to remain unseen to groups and seasons outside this range.

The production cost of TV advertising adds to this, with the belief that individual executions have a finite shelf life, after which they become ineffective.

As a result, the 'campaign' concept is almost hard-wired in to the advertiser's world view. We gather our resources and make an assault on the consumer, before retreating to count our costs and regroup ahead of a fresh attempt.

Digital is challenging this approach, and the first area in which this was felt was search. Volumes of queries ebb and flow, driven by seasonality and publicity, but underlying demand is constant. Although the number of people searching for 'swimming pool' might be higher in spring than autumn, pool companies still want to pick up these leads Early activity in search followed the traditional 'campaign' format, but practitioners soon realised that this was preventing them from meeting existing consumer demand, which amounted to a missed opportunity.

Since then, search has tended to be budgeted from the bottom up. Rather than setting an annual marketing budget, then dividing it up into allocations for each medium, search volumes are modelled through the year, with the required investment set aside to meet this, allowing for extra demand created when TV activity is run.

Similarly, affiliate marketing does not suit a campaign approach. Continuous activity is needed to build relationships with affiliates, and to reflect their outlay behind your brand. While they appreciate the impact of campaign-based activity on their own sales, they find it hard to build transaction volumes without investment over time. …

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