Qualitative research by AOP which explores perceptions and usage of online for B2B advertising among advertising agencies and client companies, concludes that the potential of online as a medium for building brand awareness is increasingly being embraced. Focusing on publisher websites, the research indicates that the opportunities far outweigh the barriers with investments being made to deliver campaign objectives utilising a range of different ad formats.
While more standard formats such as banners and skyscrapers are still used, this approach is increasingly accompanied by considerable use of editorial ‘tie-ins’ such as advertorial, sponsored editorial and site/subscriber newsletters. Search is also widely used with agencies dedicating specialist teams to its specific progression.
The research reveals that perceptions have shifted away from the common view of online being used, in the main, for direct response. Agency executives in particular are leading the way, pushing for the internet to be recognised as a brand building mechanism.
For agencies and clients alike, key considerations when deciding to use online are found to be campaign objectives, target audience, environment offered by the medium and budget. Close attention is also paid to the criteria for specific site selection which includes the sites audience, cost, environment, relationships and research data.
Looking to the future, the measurability of online and its targeting capabilities are viewed as key drivers for continued growth of online as an effective platform for brand advertising. The outlook for the coming year is very positive with agencies and clients alike expecting more modest growth to be driven by personalised, tailored content and more sophisticated search.
Bill Murray, AOP chairman and managing director of group business information strategy, Haymarket Publishing, says: “In the B2B space companies are increasingly recognising the value that can be delivered via online advertising and marketing. There is now a realisation that you can develop and build brands online as well as effectively generate direct response.
“By applying much of the creativity surrounding content creation and meeting the audience requirements that we have always been so effective at targeting in traditional media, we are now starting to see online publishers delivering genuine value to those brands in the online space.”
Qualitative research was undertaken with 25 senior media and account executives in advertising and media agencies, and senior executives responsible for advertising and media planning decisions in client companies. The depth interviews explored agency and client usage and opinions of the internet, with particular focus on publisher websites for B2B advertising. It also looked at whether agency perceptions had shifted since earlier AOP research, The Role of B2B websites, undertaken in 2004, into usage of and attitudes towards online, involving advertising agencies and business decision makers.
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