Beyond Clicks and Impressions: Examining theRelationship Between Online Advertising andBrand BuildingExecutive SummaryAdvertisers increasingly think of online as a place to build their brands, but need greaterconfidence that their online investments are helping them achieve their brand goals. Thispaper explores both the role of online ads in brand building, as well as the best metrics formeasuring the success of Internet ads against marketers’ goals. Leveraging Nielsen’s advertisingeffectiveness solutions to examine this relationship, the following conclusions will be discussedin this paper:1. Click-through rate is not the right metric to measure brand impact – virtually no relationship exists between clicks and brand metrics or offline sales.2. There is emerging evidence that brand metrics in response to online campaigns are correlated with offline sales impact.3. Online ads can succeed in driving brand impact, though success is not guaranteed and advertisers must embrace new online branding metrics to separate themselves from the competition.Advertisers areincreasingly buildingbrands onlineThere’s an old adage that advertisersfollow consumers’ eyeballs, and overthe course of the last 10 years, there hascertainly been a remarkable rise in thenumber of consumers online and theamount of time they’re spending there.Since 2003, the number of Americanswith Internet access has grown 34 percentfrom 186.7 million to 249.3 million, ac-cording to Nielsen. This growth has notcome in a vacuum – online has increas-ingly become integrated into consumers’lives – they access online at work (nearly27 hours per user per month), on mobile(43 percent of US adults now own smart-phones), and even concurrently with othermedia (20% of U.S. adults watch TV whileusing either a PC or mobile device on adaily basis, according to the Media Behav-ior Institute USA TouchPoints study.)Additionally, more and more advertisingdollars are finding their way online. In the2011 Advertising Outlook published byThe Cambridge Group (a Nielsen com-pany), a survey of over 300 advertisingdecision-makers from a variety of indus-tries indicates that digital budgets haveincreased more than any other type ofmedia in 2011.But what’s interesting is this growth is notonly from e-commerce advertisers lookingto generate web traffic or drive sales.The Cambridge Group report also showsthat in 2011 54 percent of those surveyedbelieve online ads are highly effective at“enhancing brand/product image,” com-pared to just 38 percent of respondents ina 2008 version of the study. As consum-ers have integrated the Internet into theirlives, advertisers are increasingly inter-ested in ways to better reach consumers,deliver messages, and build ongoingrelationships through this medium. Inother words, these advertisers are lookingto truly build their brands online.
4 How do online adsimpact consumerattitudes?One of the key questions weighing onadvertisers’ minds is, “Are my online brandads working?” To answer this question,Nielsen analyzed results from over 500online ad campaigns measured by NielsenOnline Brand Effect over the last year anda half.In short, the answer is yes. Brand ads doon average succeed in moving the needlefor most measured Brand Effect metrics,as shown in Figure 3.Despite some claims that “no one paysattention to online ads,” Nielsen researchshows that the average increase betweenthe control and exposed groups is highestfor Ad Recall, an indication that consum-ers do remember exposure to an online adcampaign. It should come as no surprisethat the first step to influencing consum-ers through advertising is ensuring thatthey notice and remember the ad itself.The next question brand advertisers wantto answer is whether online ad campaignscan actually change the opinions andintentions of consumers. Following AdRecall, Message Association showed thenext highest average change, indicatingthat online ads can also succeed in con-veying a brand’s intended message.Nielsen research also shows that onlineads often increase overall awareness forthe advertised brand. This is an especiallyimportant factor in driving new productsuccess – clearly, consumers must becomeaware of a new product before they canbuy it.The “lower funnel metrics” – Brand Favor-ability and Purchase Intent —are far moredifficult to influence than Awareness,Recall and Association, given that thesemetrics require a change in consumeropinion or behavior.4%-1%1%3%BrandAwareness6%Ad RecallMessageAssociationPurchaseConsiderationBrandFavorabilityFigure 3: Average Online Brand Effect ResultsWell-executed online advertising can drive branding metrics.Source: Nielsen