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Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 1

Campaign Planning For Digital Media

The characteristics of digital media

By understanding the key interactive communications characteristics enabled through digi- tal media we can
exploit these media while guarding against their weaknesses. In this sec- tion, we will describe eight key
changes in the media characteristics between traditional and digital media. Note that the 6Is in Chapter 1
(page 37 and on) provide an alternative frame- work that is useful for evaluating the differences between
traditional media and new media.

From push to pull

Traditional media such as print, TV and radio are push media – one-way streets where information is
mainly unidirectional, from company to customer, unless direct response elements are built in. In
contrast, many digital marketing activities like content, search and social media marketing involve pull
media and inbound marketing. Among market- ing professionals this powerful new approach to
marketing is now commonly known as inbound marketing (introduced in Chapter 1) (Shah and Halligan,
2009). Inbound mar- keting is powerful since advertising wastage is reduced. It involves applying content
and search marketing to target prospects with a defined need – they are proactive and self- selecting.
But this is a weakness since marketers may have less control than in traditional communications where the
message is pushed out to a defined audience and can help gen- erate awareness and demand. Advocates of
inbound marketing argue that content, social media and search marketing do have a role to play in
generating demand. The implications are that stimuli to encourage online interactions are still important
through online or tra- ditional ads, direct mail, physical reminders or encouraging word-of-mouth. ‘Push’
from email marketing remains important and is part of the inbound or permission marketing approach
(Chapter 6): it should be an aim of websites and social media presences to cap- ture customers’ email
addresses in order that opt-in email can be used to push relevant and timely messages to customers.

From monologue to dialogue to trialogue

Creating a dialogue through interactivity is the next important feature of the web and digital media
which provide the opportunity for two-way interaction with the customer. This is a key distinguishing
feature of the medium according to Peters (1998), and Deighton (1996) proclaimed the interactive
benefits of the Internet as a means of develop- ing long-term relationships with customers through what
would later be defined as per- mission marketing by Godin (1999).

Walmsley (2007) believes that the main impact of digital media has not been to find new ways to connect
brands to consumers as originally anticipated, but in connecting those consumers to each other. In the
age of trialogue; brands need to reinterpret themselves as facilitators. Walmsley believes this trialogue
will influence every aspect of marketing, from product design through to product recommendation. An
example where product design is influenced is, the online T-shirt store, which only carries
designs its users have uploaded, and manufactures only those that get a critical mass of votes (see Figure

From one-to-many to one-to-some and one-to-one

Traditional push communications are one-to-many, from one company to many customers, often the same
message to different segments and often poorly targeted. With digital media ‘one-to-some’ – reaching a
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 2

niche or micro-segment becomes more practical – e-marketers can afford to tailor and target their message
to different segments through providing dif- ferent site content or email for different audiences
through mass customisation and personalisation (Chapter 6).

Figure 8.3 illustrates the opportunities for mass customisation as interaction occurs between an
organisation (O) communicating a message (M) to customers (C) for a single- step flow of communication.
It is apparent that for traditional mass marketing in (a) a single message (M1) is communicated to all
customers (C1 to C5).

From one-to-many to many-to-many communications

Digital media also enable many-to-many communications. Hoffman and Novak (1996) noted that new media are
many-to-many media. Here customers can interact with other customers via a website, in independent
communities or on their personal websites and blogs. We will see in the section on online PR that the
implications of many-to-many communications are a

loss of control of communications requiring monitoring of information sources, but it opens more
opportunities to reach out to influencers to expand reach.

From ‘lean-back’ to ‘lean-forward’

Digital media are also intense media – they are interactive, lean-forward media where the customer wants
to be in control and wants to experience flow and responsiveness to their needs. First impressions and
devices to encourage the visitor to interact are important. If the visitor to your site does not find what
they are looking for immediately, whether through poor design or slow speed, they will move on,
probably never to return.

The medium changes the nature of standard marketing communications tools such as advertising

In addition to offering the opportunity for one-to-one marketing, the Internet can be, and widely still is,
used for one-to-many advertising. The website or social media site can be considered as similar in
function to an advertisement (since it can inform, persuade and remind customers about the offering,
although it is not paid for in the same way as a traditional advertisement). Berthon et al. (1996)
consider a website as a mix between advertising and direct selling since it can also be used to engage the
visitor in a dialogue. Constraints on advertising in traditional mass media, such as paying for time or
space, become less important. The wastage in traditional advertising where ads are either ignored or are not
relevant for an audience is reduced in online marketing and search marketing in particular. In pay-per-click
(PPC) advertising, display of ads can be controlled according to user need based on what searchers are
looking for and cost is only incurred where interest is indicated by a click. Affiliate marketing is also a pay-
for-performance communications technique where cost is only incurred where there is a response.

Peters (1998) suggested that communication via the new medium is differentiated from communication
using traditional media in four ways. First, communication style is changed with immediate, or synchronous,
transfer of information through online customer service. Asynchronous communication, where there is a
time delay between sending and receiving information as through email, also occurs. Second, social presence
or the feeling that a com- munications exchange is sociable, warm, personal and active may be lower if a
standard web page is delivered, but can be enhanced, perhaps by personalisation. Third, the consumer has
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 3

more control of contact; and fourth the user has control of content, for example through personalisation
facilities or posting their own user-generated content.

Although Hoffman and Novak (1996) pointed out that with the Internet the main rela- tionships are not
directly between sender and receiver of information, but with the web- based environment, the classic
communications model of Schramm (1955) can still be used to help understand the effectiveness of
marketing communication using the Internet. Figure 8.4 shows the model applied to the Internet. Four of
the elements of the model that can constrain the effectiveness of Internet marketing are:

Encoding – this is the design and development of the site content or email that aims to convey the message of the
company, and is dependent on understanding of the target audience.

Noise – this is the external influence that affects the quality of the message; in an Internet context this can be
slow download times, the use of plug-ins that the user can- not use or confusion caused by too much information

Decoding – this is the process of interpreting the message, and is dependent on the cog- nitive ability of the receiver,
which is partly influenced by the length of time they have used the Internet.

Feedback – this occurs through online forms and through monitoring of on-site behaviour through web
analytics (Chapter 10).

Increase in communications intermediaries

If we contrast traditional advertising and PR with the options available in paid, owned and earned digital
media, there is an increase in options to reach audiences online through a large number of options for
media and influencers. Traditional radio channels, news- papers and print titles have migrated online,
but in addition there are a vast number of online-only publishers, bloggers and individual sharing through
social networks. The con- cept of the long tail (Chapter 5) also applies to websites in any sector. There are a
handful of key sites, but many others can also be used to reach customers. The online marketer needs
to select the most appropriate of this plethora of sites which customers visit to drive traffic to their


Although digital media have distinct characteristics compared to traditional media, it does not follow that we
should concentrate our communications solely on digital media. Rather we should combine and integrate
traditional and digital media according to their strengths as explained in Step 6 in this chapter.

Timing of campaign communications have additional ‘always-on’ and real-time marketing


Earlier in this chapter and in previous chapters we have described the need for ‘always- on’ or continuous
communications activity across paid, owned and earned media to tap into consumer intent to research
new products through search engines, publisher sites and social media. Alongside this, investment in
traditional ‘burst’ marketing campaigns is, of course, still needed to promote new products, seasonal
promotions, brand engagement and demand (lead) generation. See Mini case study 8.2, which shows how
a modern mar- keting campaign can blend offline experiential marketing with digital activation.
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 4

Another change in the timing of marketing campaigns and communications is from for- ward planning of
campaigns to a more agile, dynamic approach now known as real-time marketing (and PR). Online PR
specialist David Meerman-Scott (2010) describes Real-time marketing this way.

Real-time means news breaks over minutes, not days. It means ideas percolate, then suddenly and
unpredictably go viral to a global audience. It’s when companies develo p.

(or refine) products or services instantly, based on feedback from customers or events in the
marketplace. And it’s when businesses see an opportunity and are the first to act on it.

Although not mentioned in the Meerman-Scott definition, social media and word- of-mouth are
typically the means by which news and ideas spread virally. Brands can be proactive in creating their own
viral news, memes or storytelling through campaigns to make proactive use of real-time marketing such
as through newsjacking, but also need to be reactive when their brand is presented negatively. This is part of
reputation manage- ment and crisis communications which are described in the next chapter in the
sections on online PR and social media.

Step 1. Goal setting and tracking for interactive marketing communications

Digital marketers develop communications objectives for different timescales:

Annual marketing communications objectives. For example, achieving new site visitors or gaining qualified leads could
be measured across an entire year since this will be a continuous activity based on visitor building through search
engines and other cam- paigns. Annual budgets are set to help achieve these objectives.

Campaign-specific communications objectives. Digital marketing campaigns such as to support a product launch
through online advertising and viral marketing. Specific objectives can be stated for each in terms of gaining new
visitors, converting visitors to customers and encouraging repeat purchases. Campaign objectives should build on
traditional marketing objectives, have a specific target audience and have measurable outcomes which can be
attributed to the specific campaign.

The measures we cover in this section can be applied to both short and long term. More depth on
tracking through analytics and the specific measures used for measuring social media ROI is available in
Chapter 10.

Terminology for measuring digital campaigns

There are a bewildering series of terms used to set goals and track the effectiveness of digital
campaigns, so we start this section by explaining the main measures you will encounter in models for
campaign planning and reports from online campaigns. Remem- ber that as we explained in the goal-
setting section with regard to strategy in Chapter 4, it’s important that when setting goals and tracking
we go beyond the volume measures of visitors attracted to a site and use the full range of VQVC
measures, that’s Volume, Quality, Value and Cost of visitors.
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 5

Figure 8.7 shows different measures for goal setting and tracking digital media cam- paigns from least
sophisticated to more sophisticated, as shown under the following headings.

Volume measures including clicks, visitor session and unique visitors

Traffic volume is usually measured as the number of click-throughs or visits to a site (visitor sessions) to a site
or better unique visitors. Unique visitors is preferable to using page views or hits as a measure of
effectiveness, since it represents opportunities to communicate with individuals but, as we will explain in
Chapter 10, it may be technically difficult to calculate ‘uniques’ accurately as measurement is based on
cookies. A more sophisticated measure is reach (%) or online audience share. This is only possible using
panel data/audience data tools such as, or

Example: An online bank has 1 million unique visitors per month

Quality measures including conversion rates to action and bounce rate

Traffic volume measures give no indication of whether the audience referred to the site engages with it
or leaves straight away, so we need quality measures to show us this. Con- version rate is the best known
quality measure which shows what proportion of visitors from different sources within a defined time
period convert to specific marketing outcomes on the web, such as lead, sale or subscription.

Example: 10 per cent of visitors convert to an outcome such as logging in to their account, or asking for a quote
for a product.

Conversion rates can be expressed in two different ways – at the visit level (visit or session conversion rate) or
the unique visitor level (visitor conversion rate).

Eric Petersen (2004) explains it this way:

the denominator you use [to calculate conversion rate] will depend on whether you’re trying to understand how
people behave during visits or the people themselves. If you’re interested in people [and the overall buying
process] use unique visitors, if you’re interested in behaviour [on a single visit] use visits.

A related measure that is useful to monitor during campaigns is the bounce rate which
indicates the proportion of referred visitors to a page or site who exit after visiting a single
page only, usually expressed as a percentage (i.e. that arrive at the site and bounce off it
since they don’t discover relevance!).
Reviewing bounce or engagement rates can improve the effectiveness of landing pages and
the quality of referrers to a page. The benefit of using bounce rates rather than con- version
rates is that there is a much wider variation in bounce rates for a page (i.e. typically 20 to 80 per
cent, compared to under 10 per cent), which enables problems with individual referrers,
keywords or landing page conversions to be more readily identified. Bounce rates are
calculated as follows:
100 : single page visits to a page (or site)
Bounce rate % =

all visits starting on page (or site)

Engagement rate % = (100 - bounce rate %)

2 Media cost measures including cost-per-click and cost-per-thousand

The cost of visitor acquisition is usually measured as the cost-per-click (CPC) specific to a
particular digital media channel, such as pay-per-click search engine marketing, since it is
difficult to estimate for an entire site with many visitors referred from offline advertising.
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 6

Example: £2 CPC (500 clicks delivered from Google Adwords costing £1000).

Cost-per-thousand (CPM) (M = mille) is usually used as the currency when buying display ad space, for
example, £10 CPM will mean that the ad will be served to 1000 visitors (tech- nically visitor sessions). An
effective CPM can also be calculated for other media channels, such as pay-per-click advertising, for

2 Acquisition cost measures including cost-per-action or acquisition

A digital campaign will not be successful if it meets its objectives of acquiring site visitors and customers
but the cost of achieving this is too high. So it is essential to have specific objectives and measures for the
cost of using different digital media channels to drive visi- tors to the site and convert to transaction. This is
stated as the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) (sometimes cost-per-action). Depending on context and market,
CPA may refer to differ- ent outcomes. Typical cost targets include:

● cost-per-acquisition – of a visitor;
● cost-per-acquisition – of a lead;
● cost-per-acquisition – of a sale (most typical form of CPA, also known as CPS).
To control costs, it is important for managers to define a target allowable cost-per-
acquisition such as £30 for generating a business lead or £50 for achieving sign-up to a credit card.
When the cost of visitor acquisition is combined with conversion to out- comes this is the cost
of (customer) acquisition.
Example: £20 CPA (for £2 CPC, 10% conversion with one-in-ten visits resulting in sale).

2 Return on investment (ROI) or value measures

Return on investment is used to assess the profitability of any marketing activity, or indeed any investment.
You will also know that there are different forms of ROI, depending on how profitability is calculated.
Here we will assume it is just based on sales value or profit- ability based on the cost per click and
conversion rate.

2 Branding measures
These tend to be most relevant to interactive advertising or sponsorship. They are the equivalent of
offline advertising metrics, i.e. brand awareness (aided and unaided), ad recall, brand familiarity, brand
favourability and purchase intent.

2 Lifetime value-based ROI measures

Here the value of gaining the customer is not just based on the initial purchase, but the lifetime value
(and costs) associated with the customer. This requires more sophisticated models which can be most
readily developed for online retailers and online financial ser- vices providers. The technique for the
calculation of LTV was outlined in Chapter 6.

Example: A bank uses a net present value model for insurance products which looks at the value over ten
years but whose main focus is on a five-year result and takes into account:

 acquisition cost;
 retention rates;
 claims;
 expenses.
This is valuable since it helps give them a realistic ‘allowable cost per sale’ which is needed to get a return
over five years. They track this in great detail – for example, they will know the ROI of different Google
Adwords keywords and will then select keyphrases and bid strategies accordingly.
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 7

Figure 8.8 shows an example of an online ad campaign for an insurance product plac- ing many of the core
volume, quality and cost measures covered in this section in context. Here an opportunity or lead is when a
quote is requested. Note that the cost of acquisition is high but this does not take into account the
synergies of online advertising with offline campaigns, i.e. those who are influenced by the ad, but do not
click through immediately

Examples of digital campaign measures

An interactive marketing communications plan should have five main types of goals
1 Audience or traffic building goals. These define targets for using online site promotion
and offline site promotion to drive quality visitors or traffic to a website or other social
presence which convert to the outcomes required (sales, lead, newsletter sign-up, social
interaction) at an acceptable cost.
Examples of SMART traffic building objectives which can be expressed as visitors, visits or

● Achieve 100,000 unique visitors or 200,000 visitor sessions within one year.
● Deliver 20,000 online sales at an average order value of £50 and a cost-per-acquisition of
● Convert 30 per cent of existing customer base to active use (at least once every 90
days) of online service.
● Achieve 10 per cent ‘share of searches’ within a market.
2 Conversion or interaction goals. Use onsite communications to deliver an effective mes-
sage to the visitor which helps influence perceptions or achieves a required marketing
outcome. The message delivered on-site will be based on traditional marketing commu-
nications objectives for a company’s products or services. For example:
 encourage trial (for example, achieve 10 per cent conversion of new unique visitors to registration
or downloads of a music service such as iTunes or Spotify);
 build in-house permission-based list (increase email database by 10,000 during year
through data capture activities);
 encourage engagement with content (conversion of 20 per cent of new unique visi- tors to
product information area);
 persuade customer to purchase (conversion of 5 per cent of unique new visitors);
 encourage further purchases (conversion of 30 per cent of first-time buyers to repeat
purchasers within a six-month period).
To estimate a realistic number of conversions, we recommend creating conversion-based models like that
shown in Figure 8.9. Take, for example, the objectives of a campaign for a B2B services company such as a
consultancy company, where the ultimate objective is to achieve 1000 new clients using the website in
combination with traditional media to convert leads to action. To achieve this level of new business,
the marketer will need to make assumptions about the level of conversion that is needed at each stage of
converting prospects to customers. This gives a core objective of 1000 new clients and different critical
success factors based on the different conversion rates.

If there are no products available for sale online, such as a luxury car manufacturer or a high-value B2B
service offering white paper downloads, then it is less clear how to calcu- late ROI.

To get the most from campaigns which don’t result in sales online and optimise their effectiveness, it is
useful to put a value or points score on different outcomes – for example in the case of the car manufacturer,
values could be assigned to brochure requests (5 points or £20), demonstration drive requests (20 points or
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 8

£100) or simply visits to the site involv- ing reviewing product features information (1 point or £1). This
approach is known as value event scoring.

Through knowing the average percentage of online brochure requests or demo drive requests that
convert to sales, and the average order value for customers referred from the website, then the value
of these on-site outcomes can be estimated. This is only an estimate, but it can help inform campaign
optimisation, by showing which referring sites, creative or PPC keywords and pages visited on the site are
most likely to generate desirable outcomes. Mini case study 8.3 gives an example of different types of
events for a photo- sharing site.

1 Third-party site reach and branding goals. Reach, influence and engage with prospective
customers on third-party sites such as online news and magazines sites, portals and
social networks.
● Reach a targeted audience of 500,000 during the campaign.
● Create awareness of a product or favourability towards a brand (measured through
brand research of brand awareness, brand favourability or purchase intent through
using an online brand-tracking service such as Dynamic Logic, www.dynamic

2 Multichannel marketing goals. Integrate all communications methods to help achieve

marketing objectives by supporting mixed-mode buying.
Examples of mixed-mode buying objectives:
● Achieve 20 per cent of sales achieved in the call centre as a result of website visits.
● Achieve 20 per cent of online sales in response to offline adverts.
● Increase average amount spent in store for every active site visitor from £3 to £4.
● Reduce contact-centre phone enquiries by 15 per cent by providing online customer
3 Longer-term brand engagement goals. One of the biggest challenges of online market-
ing, indeed marketing through any channel, is to sustain long-term interactions leading to
additional sales. These are measured through lifetime value, loyalty and customer
Customer engagement communication shows the importance of capturing and main-
taining up-to-date customer details such as email addresses and mobile phone numbers.

Campaign response mechanisms

Digital media have increased the choice of response mechanisms. Reviewing response
mechanisms is important since too narrow may limit response, but too broad and unfo-
cused may not give the right types of response – marketers need to emphasise the response
types or customer journeys most favourable to the overall success of the campaign in their
creative and messaging. Policies for response mechanism across campaigns should be spec-
ified by managers to ensure the right approach is used for all campaigns.
Response mechanisms will naturally vary depending on type of product. So, brands such as fast-moving
consumer goods brands do not have to drive visitors to their own site; through advertising and creating
interactive microsites on third-party sites, they can potentially be more effective in reaching their audience
who are more likely to spend their time on online media sites than on destination brand sites.

Online response mechanism

The required response mechanisms should be specified in the digital campaign plan and the number of
responses from each model. Figure 8.10 suggests the typical options of out- comes to online campaign
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 9

media. From the creative shown using media such as a display ad, pay-per-click ad or rented email
newsletter, there are five main options.

1 Home page
In the majority of cases, investment in online media will be wasted if visitors are driven from the media
site to the home page of the destination website. Typically it is appealing to many audiences and offering
too much choice – it won’t effectively reinforce the mes- sage of the online creative or convert to
further action.

1 Microsite/landing page
A focussed landing page or specially created microsite can more effectively convert visi- tors to
the action to help gain a return on the online campaign investment. Figure 8.11 shows an
example of a landing page giving a range of response mechanisms, although offline is
omitted. A URL strategy is used to make the page easy to label in offline creative. This specifies
how different types of content on a site will be placed in different folders or directories of a
website (this can also help with search engine optimisation). For example, if you visit the BBC
site (, look at how the web address details vary as you move from one section
to another such as News or Sport. An individual destination page on a website may be
labelled, for example, car-insurance. A further example is
where site owners have to make a decision how to refer to content in different countries, either
in the form:

http://<country-name>.<company-name>.com or the more common

http://www.<>.com/<country-name> Campaign URLs or CURLs are less widely used
today, the idea being that they will be more memorable than the standard company address and
blend in with the campaign con- cept. For example, an insurer used the CURL, which represents memorable elements of the campaign. Also memorable is – a viral hit from ten years ago for Burger King and reinvigorated for 2015
under the hashtag #ChickenRedemption.

2 Personal (chat or call-back)

In this case the creative or landing page encourages campaign respondents to ‘talk’ directly
with a human operator. It is usually referred to as a call-back service and integrates web and
phone. Buttons or hyperlinks encourage a call-back from a telephone operator or an online
chat. The advantage of this approach is that it engages the customer more and will typically
lead to a higher conversion-to-sale rate since the customer’s questions and objec- tions are
more likely to be answered and the personal engagement is more likely to encour- age a
favourable impression.

3 Offline: phone, post or store

Because part of a campaign is run online does not mean that offline responses should be
excluded. Offline response mechanisms should not be discarded unless the cost of manag- ing
them cannot be justified, which is rarely the case.

Offline response goals for multichannel integration

We also need to include the right response mechanism for the offline media element of the
campaigns such as TV ads, print ads or direct-mail pieces. The permission-based web response model is
one that is frequently used today in direct marketing (Chapter 6). For example, this process could
start with a direct mail drop or offline advert. The website is used as the direct response mechanism,
hence ‘web response’. Ideally, this approach will use targeting of different segments. For example, a
Netherlands bank devised a campaign targeting six different segments based on age and income. The
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 10

initial letter was delivered by post and contained a PIN (personal identification number) which had
to be typed in when the customer visited the site. The PIN had the dual benefit that it could be used
to track responses to the campaign, while at the same time personalising the message to the
consumer. When the PIN was typed in, a ‘personal page’ was delivered for the customer with an
offer that was appropriate to their particular circumstances.

Step 2. Campaign insight

Research into the target audience and how they select products and services within the marketplace is
core to a campaign planning approach. When a company is working with an agency, the marketer at the
client company will incorporate initial customer insight into a brief as part of the agency completing a
client discovery process. This will give agency staff valuable information about the audience and
marketplace. Fill (2007) describes this stage of communications planning as context analysis. He
identifies these aspects of context which should be researched:

 Customer context including dimensions of segment characteristics; levels of awareness, perception

and attitudes towards the brand or organisation; level of involvement; types of perceived risk and
influence of different members of the decision-making unit.
 Business context including corporate and marketing strategy and plans; brand/organi- sation
analysis and competitor analysis.
 Internal context including financial constraints; organisation identity; culture, value and beliefs;
marketing expertise; agency availability and suitability.
 External context including key stakeholders; communications and needs; social, politi- cal,
economic, legal and technological restraints and opportunities.
So, the context analysis references all existing plans such as business and marketing plans, internal and
external information sources. Information from these will be collated and put into a campaign brief.

More detailed campaign insight will be accessed and analysed once the agency or internal team are working
on the campaign. Large agencies use ‘data planners’ or ‘customer com- munications planners’ to review all
available external data sources such as market, audience and internal data on customer profiles, past
campaign results on the most effective channels in generating product sales to assist clients in strategic
development and execution of cam- paigns. This data is then used to inform campaign targeting and media

For example, a brief might specify that a FMCG client wants to run an online promo- tional campaign,
with the goal of stimulating trial of products and adding to a prospect database through encouraging
online registration. The campaign strategy or offer is based around offering daily prizes. The data planner
involved uses all transactional data col- lected from previous similar campaigns campaign to be linked to
socio-demographic data which is coupled with transactional information.

Customer insight for digital marketing campaigns

There is a wealth of customer insight information available for digital marketing cam- paigns, but it
varies by sector. So it is important during the briefing or pre-planning stage to list all the possible
information sources and then evaluate which are worth- while, since some are free and some are paid
syndicated research. We have introduced many of the techniques in Chapter 2, such as persona and
customer scenario analysis, and also some of the information sources (see Table 2.2, Research tools
for assessing digital markets).
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 11

Examples of the types of customer insight related to online competitor and audience behaviour that
might be accessed at this stage in the campaign from third-party syndicated research sources include:

 Site audience reach and composition. What is the breakdown of audiences by age, gen- der or socio-
economic group on different sites? This data is available from online audi- ence panel providers
such as Nielsen Netrating, Comscore and Hitwise.
 Online buying behaviour and preferences. For example, from the Forrester Internet User Monitor or In the UK, gives information on typical product preferences for a particular site – for
example, the percentage of the audience whose last holiday was a city break. Additional surveys
can be conducted via publisher sites.
 Customer media consumption. The usage of different offline and online media for dif- ferent target
demographics can be accessed from sources such as Hitwise.
 Customer search behaviour. The proportion of different phrases and their importance can be used
to inform messaging.
 Competitor campaign activity. The activity of current advertising campaigns and previous seasonal
campaigns. For example, in the UK, this is available from Thomson Intermedia.
 Competitor performance. This will give information on the audience size (reach) and
composition of competitor sites and services like Hitwise can show which marketing
techniques such as search engine marketing or affiliate marketing are successful in driv- ing
visitors to a competitor since referring sites and search terms can be accessed. Wertime
and Fenwick (2008) suggest a similar technique to persona development (see Chapter 7)
for campaigns which they describe as a ‘participant print’. The main elements of the
participant print are
 General profile. This is basic demographic and psychographic information about
customers. It may also include insight from previous online campaigns and activities
such as search keywords and propensity to respond for different demographic groups
(response rates).
 Digital profile.
– Digital usage habits. The authors say this includes the usage of different digital media
channels, types of sites used and digital platforms they use.
– Content consumption preferences. This includes favoured sources of information related
to the product category from portals specific to the product, comparison sites and
specialist blogs.
– Content creation profile. This reviews the propensity of the group to participate
online. For example, in contests where they upload photos or ringtones, blogs or
forums they comment on including neutral sites and competitor sites.
 Individual profiles. This is information about existing prospects and customers
including profile information from customer databases, content preferences from web
analytics and qualitative research with customers about their needs, wants and how
they prefer to use digital channels.
An example of the type of in-depth research available is the IPA Touchpoints survey which covers both
surveyed usage of websites and other media, and opinions including why they use particular media.
Hussein (2006) describes the purpose of this – he says the aim is to enable campaign planners to identify
relevant target markets (demographic groups, attitu- dinal groups, activity groups, and so on) and fully
understand them in terms of:

 how they spend their day (shopping, work, travelling);

 who they spend it with (friends, family, work colleagues);
 what they believe in (views and opinions on life, brands, media, advertising);
 what is important to them (time spent on activities, family values);
 how, when, where and why they consume particular media.
Further information on marketplace analysis, including links to the main data sources for digital campaign
insights, is provided in Table 2.3.
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 12

Step 3. Segmentation and targeting

Campaign targeting strategy defines the target audience or type of people that you need to reach with
your campaign communications. It’s about defining, selecting and reach- ing specific audiences online.
Targeting methods vary according to the market, campaign and e-communications tools involved. The key
targeting issues to define for the online ele- ments of a campaign are:

 quality of insight about customer or prospect available to assist with targeting;

 range of variables or parameters used to target – e.g. audience characteristics, value, needs and
 identifying the targeting attributes or variables which will influence response;
 specific targeting approaches available for the key e-communications tools – e.g. online
advertising, search engine marketing and email marketing.
The targeting approaches used for acquisition and retention campaigns will naturally de- pend on
established segmentations and knowledge about customers. (We have also dis- cussed targeting
approaches from a strategic basis in Chapters 4 and 6.) From a campaign point of view, Table 8.3 shows
some of the main targeting variables which can be reviewed in digital campaign planning. Let’s look at
each targeting variable in a little more depth.

1.Relationship with company. Campaigns will often be intended to target new contacts or existing
contacts. But remember, some communications – such as e-newsletters and email campaigns – will reach
both. Marketers have to consider whether it will be cost- effective to have separate communications for
new, existing and lapsed contacts – or to target each of these groups in the same communications but
using different content aimed at each.

When visitors click through to your website from online and offline campaigns, copy should be presented
that recognises the relationship or, again, provides a range of con- tent to recognise each different
relationship. Visit Microstrategy (www.microstrategy. com) to see how its registration page establishes the

2.Demographic segmentation. This is typically based on age, gender or social group. Online
demographics are often used as the basis for which sites to purchase display advertising or for renting
email lists. Demographics can also be used to limit or focus who pay-per-click search ads are displayed

3.Psychographic or attitudinal segmentation. This includes attitudes to risk and value when buying – e.g.
early adopter, brand loyal or price conscious. It is less straightfor- ward to target on these attributes of a
consumer since it is easier to buy media based on demographic breakdown. However, certain sites may be
more suitable for reaching a particular psychographic audience. The psychographic characteristics of the

are still an important part of the brief, to help develop particular messages. It is possible to collect attitudinal
information on a site and add it to the customer profile. For exam- ple, Wells Fargo asks investors to

 the type of investment preferred (individual stocks or mutual funds); and

 what type of investor best describes you? (aggressive growth to more cautious).
4.Value. The higher-value customers (indicated by higher average order value and higher modelled customer lifetime
values) will often warrant separate communications with different offers. Sometimes digital channels are not the best
approach for these custom- ers – relationship managers will want direct contact with their most valuable custom- ers;
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 13

while digital channels are used to communicate more cost-effectively with lower value customers. It is also worth
considering reducing the frequency of emails to this audience.

5.Lifecycle stage. This is very useful where customers follow a particular sequence in buy- ing or using a service, such as
online grocery shopping or online banking. As explained in Chapter 6, automated, event-triggered email marketing
can be developed for this audience. For example, bank First Direct uses a six-month welcome strategy based on email
and direct mail communications. For other campaigns, the status of a customer can be used for targeting – for example not
purchased or used service, purchased once, pur- chased more than five times and active, purchased more than five times
and inactive, etc.

6.Behavioural. Behavioural targeting is one of the big opportunities provided by digital marketing. It involves assessing
customers’ past actions in following links, reading con- tent, using online services or buying products, and then follows
up on these with a more relevant message based on the propensity to act estimated on the previous action.

Online options for behavioural targeting can be illustrated by a travel company such as

 Pay-per-click search engine marketing makes targeting possible according to the type of keyphrase
typed when a potential customer searches for information. A relevant ad specific to a holiday
destination the prospect is looking for –e.g. ‘Hotel New York’ – can then be shown.
 Display advertising makes behavioural targeting possible since cookies can be used to track visitors
across a site or between sites and display relevant ads. If a site user visits the travel section of a
newspaper site, then the ad about ‘lastminute’ can be served as they visit other content on this
site, or potentially on other sites.
 Email marketing can be targeted based on customer preferences indicated by links they have clicked
on. For example, if a user has clicked a link on a holiday in North America, then a targeted email can
be delivered relevant to this product or promotion. More so- phisticated analysis based on RFM
(Recency, Frequency and Monetary value) analysis (Chapter 6) can also be used.
When reviewing the options for which variables to use, the campaign planner must keep in mind that those
selected for targeting should be those that are most likely to influence the level of response for the
campaign. It is possible to target on many variables, but the incre- mental benefit of targeting on
additional variables may not be worth the cost and effort. Figure 6.9 (page 322) indicates the general
improvement in campaign response dependent on the type of targeting variables used.

Within digital media campaigns there are many options for targeting which we will explore in more
detail in the next chapter, for example:

1.Targeting using search marketing. Targeting via intent or the types of keywords people search on as they look for
products, information or experiences.

2.Targeting using display advertising. As with targeting using traditional publications, targeting is possible using
audience composition of different websites.

3.Targeting using social media. Each main social media platform offers opportunities for granular targeting
as shown in Figure 8.12 for Facebook. Similarly, LinkedIn enables targeting of LinkedIn members by
location, company type and size, role, seniority and group membership.

4. Targeting using affiliate marketing. This will use a combination of search, display and social media

Figure 8.12 shows a tool related to content marketing aimed at helping marketers to review the effectiveness
of different types of paid, owned and earned media to promote or distrib- ute their content. Its aim is to
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 14

review existing and potential use of different digital media in generating site visits, leads or sales
compared to the level of investment in applying the media measured as paid media costs and the costs of
marketing team members. It uses a similar ‘gap analysis’ approach to the content marketing matrix (Figure
8.14) to compare current use of media to promote content against existing investment in content.

Step 1. Current use of media for content distribution.

Step 2. Review promotion gap against competitor or sector use of content distribution techniques.

Step 3. Select and prioritise new methods of content promotion. The four types of media shown on the
matrix are:

 Wasteful media (lowest volume, highest cost). Your aim here should be to reduce costs
through budget reallocation and/or efficiency improvements.
 Slow and steady media (lowest volume, lowest cost). The least important to act on, but you need to
make sure you are not distracted by these. Here, the aim is to minimise costs and review potential of
techniques for improvement.
 High-cost volume driver media (highest volume, highest cost). You should aim to reduce costs and
make efficiency improvements.
 Star performers (highest volume, lowest cost). The aim here is to add more focus to scale
volume further.
Companies use this template in combination with analytics or lead reporting systems to identify which
media are driving volume and how cost-effective they are.

Step 4. Offer, message development and creative

Many digital campaigns have direct response as the primary objective. Defining the right offer is vital to
achieving these response objectives. But there are also likely to be brand objec- tives, to communicate the ‘big
idea’ or concept behind the campaign or to position the brand. In an online environment, there is very little
time for the message to be delivered. Eye- tracking studies suggest average gaze or dwell times for a whole
page may be around ten seconds, as suggested by Table 8.4, but individual fixation times on page
elements such as page headlines or ads are much lower, so it is important the message is succinct and

powerful. So given the limited page dwell times and fixations, a clear primary message is needed in the
different forms of digital media where it is delivered:

 Paid search – within the headline of the ad.

 Natural search – within the <title> tag and meta description tag (see Chapter 9).
 Email marketing – within the subject line and the headline or title of the email sup- ported by
 Display ads – within the opening frame and possibly repeated in all frames.
The primary message should deliver relevance according to the context, so within paid search the
primary message should be consistent with the search term entered by the user and should highlight
the value proposition clearly. To successfully communicate our offer and message, we also need to ensure
that the creative and copy helps achieve the five stages of information processing shown in Table 7.3 – i.e.
Exposure, Attention, Compre- hension and Perception, Yielding and Acceptance, and Retention (page
400). Similarly, we also need to deliver a response as shown by well-known AIDA mnemonic, which
stands for:

A wareness/Attention
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 15

I nterest

D esire

A ction.

Having captured attention and developed interest with a primary offer and message, the creative
needs to stimulate desire and action with the secondary offer and message, which:

 reassures prospects by giving a little more evidence of the offer or product benefits;
 convinces the sceptic and encourages them to click;
 can appeal to different types of person to the primary offer;
 again, should have a clear call-to-action.
Jenkinson (2003) proposes that every marketing communication should contain a blend of five elements
related to customer experience, with the significance or intensity of each element varying. He believes
that this is useful for briefing the communication require- ments from different communications media.
The elements of this ‘CODAR’ framework are illustrated by the example in Figure 8.13.

 Idea forming. Generating ideas in the consumer’s or client’s mind, such as the brand promise, a
value proposition or brand values.
 Relationship building. Building a relationship including affinity, emotional bonding, brand know-
how or expertise, and database and/or personal knowledge about the customer.
 Sales activation. Stimulating the customer towards further investigation, trial or purchase.
 Help. Providing service and assistance to the customer relevant to their needs and wants –
from informing the customer about availability of new technology/product to consultancy in
the purchase process, in use status reporting or resolution of a post-purchase problem.
 Product experience. Using and interacting with the brand’s deliverables, including store and
website design, product availability, information such as a bank statement, value or
pleasure in use.
Many lessons from direct marketing can be applied to digital communications. In his book,
Commonsense Direct Marketing, Drayton Bird (2000) identified ‘twenty-five point- ers before you write a
word or sketch a layout’. Here are the most relevant ones to be con- sidered when developing online
creative work:

 What is the objective? Gather names? Produce qualified leads? Make firm sales? Get free
 Are you clear on the positioning? What will your message tell the prospect about your
product or service? Does it fit in with the positioning?
 Who are you selling to? What are their hopes, fears, likes, dislikes, needs? Are they male or
female? Young or old, rich or poor? Until you know these facts, you will not know what
tone to adopt, let alone what to say.
 What is it? And what does it do? Obvious, but…
 What need in your prospect does your product or service fulfil? How many of the nine
basic human motivations are relevant to potential customers of your product or service:
make money, save money, save time and effort, help their families, feel secure, impress
others, gain pleasure, improve themselves and belong to a group?
 What makes it so special? Interrogate your product or service. How does it differ from the
alternatives? These are its features.
 What benefits are you offering? What it does rather than what it is.
 What do you consider the most important benefit to be? Ideally a unique benefit, but
certainly the most appealing combination of benefits.
Perceptual mapping is a useful tool to review positioning and differentiation within the marketplace. It
summarises how customers see a company’s brand in relation to others in the marketplace. In perceptual
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 16

mapping, two axes define fundamental characteristics of how people see products, services or brands. A
classic method is to include a more rational dimension like price against a more emotional dimension such
as making you feel safe.

Focus on content marketing

We introduced the growing role of content marketing within digital marketing commu- nications in
Chapter 1. We believe that content marketing should be at the heart of digi- tal marketing for all types of
brands, because content fuels all the main digital marketing channels we use to communicate with our
audiences. Search, social media, conversion rate optimisation and email marketing all require content which
helps a brand increase its visi- bility, engage its audience and drives leads and sales. Within a campaign,
content is vital as the method of engaging the audience and generating demand, whether this is educational
content as part of a business-to-business campaign or video content as part of a consumer campaign. The
only case where the role of content is diminished is where the main cam- paign offer is a price cut,
discount or sale.

 Given the importance of content marketing, many businesses now look to develop a con- tent
marketing strategy as part of their digital marketing tactics. As with all strategies, this will
involve review of the current approach, setting specific objectives and developing strate- gies
to create and share content. To review how content can best support digital marketing, Dave
Chaffey developed the Content Marketing Matrix with Dan Bosomworth of Smart
Insights. The activity explains how this can be used to identify the right content types.

Step 5. Budgeting and selecting the digital media mix

Traditional approaches such as those suggested by Kotler et al. (2001) can be used to set overall
communications budgets. For example:

 Affordable method – the communications budget is set after subtracting fixed and variable
costs from anticipated revenues.
 Percentage-of-sales methods – the communications budget is set as a percentage of fore- cast sales
 Competitive parity methods – expenditure is based on estimates of competitor expendi- ture. For
example, e-marketing spend is typically 10–15 per cent of the marketing budget.
 Objective and task method – this is a logical approach where budget is built up from all the tasks required
to achieve the objectives in the communications plan. This is a bottom-up approach that is often based
on a model of the effectiveness of different digital media chan- nels based on the measures of campaign
effectiveness described in the objective setting section at the start of this chapter. Complete Activity 8.2 to
understand how these models are created.
Digital marketing campaign plans require three important decisions to be made about investment for
the online promotion or the online communications mix. These are:

 Level of investment in digital media as opposed to traditional media.

 Mix of investment in digital media channels or e-communications tools.
 Level of investment in digital assets.

1 Level of investment in digital media techniques in comparison to offline promotion

A balance must be struck between online and offline communications techniques based on the strengths and
weaknesses of the different media options. A useful framework for consid- ering the media characteristics
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 17

which influence decisions on which to invest in has been devel- oped by Coulter and Starkis (2005). Offline media
are often superior in generating attention, stimulating attention and gaining credibility. Online media tend to
be better at engagement due to personalisation, interaction and support of word-of-mouth. The offer can
also often be fulfilled online for products that can be bought online. However, there are limits to the
number of people that can be reached through online media (a limit to number searching on particular
terms) and the cost is not necessarily always lower in competitive markets.

Figure 8.15 outlines typical options that companies have during a campaign, quarterly or annually. Which
do you think would be the best option for an established company as compared to a dot-com ‘pureplay’
company? It seems that in both cases, offline promotion investment often exceeds that for online promotion
investment. However, some pureplays do invest the majority of their budget in paid search and affiliate
marketing, although they are likely to find there are limits to growth that this will impose. There are also
increases to buying digital media, as suggested by Mini case study 8.3, which need to be considered. For
existing companies, traditional media such as print are used to advertise the sites, while print and TV
will also be widely used by dot-com companies to drive traffic to their sites.

Econometric modelling

Econometrics or econometric modelling is an established approach to understanding the

contribution of different media in influencing consumers and ultimately generating sales and
profit. It can also be used in a predictive way to plan for future campaigns. It is increas- ingly used
in integrated campaigns to assess the appropriate media mix (see Cook, 2004, for further
One of its main benefits is its ability to separate the effects of a range of influences such as
offline or online media usage or other variables such as price or promotions used and to
quantify these individual effects. A simple example might be for the sales of a drinks brand:

Sales = 100 +

+ 2.5 × own TVRs (television ratings)

– 1.4 × own price

+ 1.6 × competitor price

+ 1.0 × distribution

– 0.8 × temperature
– 1.2 × competitor TVRs

These relationships are typically identified using multiple linear regression models where a
single dependent variable (typically sales) is a function of one or more explanatory or
independent variables such as price, temperature, level of promotion.
Econometric models are developed from historic time-series data which record fluctua- tions dependent on
different variables including seasonal variables, but most importantly, variations in media spend levels and
the mix of media. In econometrics, sales fluctuations are expressed in terms of the factors causing them.

2 Selecting the right mix of digital media communications tools

When selecting the mix of digital media for a campaign or longer-term investments, mar- keters will
determine the most appropriate mix based on their knowledge built up through experience of previous
campaigns and taking input from their advisers such as experienced colleagues or agency partners.

Varianini and Vaturi (2000) have suggested that many online marketing failures have resulted from poor
control of media spending. The communications mix should be opti- mised to minimise the cost of
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 18

acquisition. If an online intermediary has a cost acquisition of £100 per customer while it is gaining an
average commission on each sale of £5 then, clearly, the company will not be profitable unless it can
achieve a large number of repeat orders from the customer.

Agrawal et al. (2001) suggested that e-commerce sites should focus on narrow segments that have
demonstrated their attraction to a business model. They believe that promotion techniques such as
affiliate deals with narrowly targeted sites and email campaigns tar- geted at segments grouped by
purchase histories and demographic traits are 10–15 times more likely than banner ads on generic portals
to attract prospects who click through to purchase. Alternatively, pay-per-click ads on Google may have a
higher success rate.

When this experience isn’t there, which is often the case with new digital media oppor- tunities, it is
important to do a more structured evaluation including factors such as the ability of each medium to
influence perceptions, drive a response, the cost of response and the quality of response – are respondents
more likely to convert to the ultimate action such as sale? What is their likely lifetime value? For example,
some digital media channels such as affiliates are more likely to attract customers with a lower lifetime
value who are more likely to switch suppliers.

Media planning and buying agency Zed Media has produced a useful summary of how a media mix might
typically vary according to budget (see Figure 8.16).

The figure shows that for a direct response campaign with limited budget, investment in controllable,
targeted media which typically have a lower cost-per-acquisition such as affiliates and paid search should
be the main focus. If more budget is available, it may not be possible to buy further keywords or there may
be benefits from generating awareness of the offering through more display advertising.

With a brand campaign where the focus is on generating awareness, the recommendations of
Zed Media are reversed where they recommend that, even at lower budgets, more invest- ment
should be made in display advertising.
Deciding on the optimal expenditure on different communication techniques will be an iterative approach
since past results should be analysed and adjusted accordingly. Market- ers can analyse the proportion of the
promotional budget that is spent on different channels and then compare this with the contribution from
purchasing customers who originated using the original channel. This type of analysis, reported by
Hoffman and Novak (2000) and shown in Table 8.5, requires two different types of marketing research.
First, tagging of customers can be used. Here, we monitor, using specifically coded URLs or cookies, the
numbers of customers who are referred to a website through different online tech- niques such as
search ads, affiliate or banner ads, and then track the money they spend on purchases. Digital marketing
insight 8.4 gives more details of how the Google Analytics system is used.

Attributing influence on sales to digital media channel

It is seldom the case that a customer will go straight to a site and purchase, or that they will
perform a single search and then purchase. Instead, they will commonly perform mul- tiple
searches and will be referred to the ultimate purchase site by different types of site. This
consumer behaviour is indicated by Figure 8.17. This shows that someone looking to
purchase a car may be referred to a site several times via different digital communications
A common approach to attributing the influence of different online media a cus-
tomer consumes before purchase has been the last-click method of digital media channel
attribution introduced well by Lee (2010). Figure 8.18 gives an example of using a social
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 19

media marketing tool to assess effectiveness on a last click basis. It shows that when a busi-
ness shares content across different social networks they can review how many clicks and
conversion to leads are generated. In this example, Facebook is most effective by volume.
However, Lee explains that this can give a misleading picture of which marketing channels are
effective. In an analysis of visitors to an airline site (Figure 8.19), he shows that although the overall
patterns of referrers to the site at first appear similar, there are some major differences. If you refer to
Figure 8.19 you can see that email marketing, SEO for non-brand terms and PPC for brand terms are
more significant when looking at the contribution of all sources.
Referring to Figure 8.17, you can see this has the benefit that we don’t credit multiple
affiliates with sale for affiliate marketing – only Affiliate 2 is credited with the sale, a process
known as digital media de-duplication. But it has the disadvantage that it simplifies the real- ity
of previous influence or digital media ‘assists’ and previous referrals influenced by other
customer touchpoints on other sites are ignored, such as the natural search or display ad.
So, for the most accurate interpretation of the contribution of different media, the online marketer
needs to use tagging and analysis tools to try to build the best picture of which channels are influencing
sales and then weight the media accordingly. For example, a more sophisticated approach is to weight the
responsibility for sale across several different referrers according to a model – so just considering the
affiliates, Affiliate 1 might be cred- ited with 30 per cent of the sales value and Affiliate 2 with 70 per cent,
for example. This approach is useful since it indicates the value of display advertising – a common phenom-
enon is the halo effect where display ads indirectly influence sales by creating awareness and stimulating
sale at a later point in time. These are sometimes known as ‘viewthrough’ or post-impression effects.

These allocation approaches won’t be possible if agencies are using different tracking tools and reporting
separately on different media channels – for example, the ad agency reports on display advertising, the
search agency on pay-per-click, the affiliate manager on affiliate sales. Instead it is important to use a
unified tracking system which typically uses common tags across all media channels. Common unified
tracking solutions that consider all media are available from the likes of Atlas, Doubleclick Dart and some
of the larger media agencies.

Further sophistication of tracking will be worthwhile for companies investing millions in digital media in
order to understand the customer journey and the contribution of media. A useful analysis to perform
is in the form shown in Figure 8.20. This anonymised example shows the importance of display ads, for
example, and how different channels support each other.

It can then be worthwhile understanding the role of individual channels better, and in particular paid
search. Marketers need to understand how consumers use different types of terms. Table 8.6 shows the
repeated use of different types of search terms for a single customer (other digital channels such as
affiliates are ignored here). The two columns on the right show how it is unrealistic to attribute the sale to
the last search since the influence of the assists isn’t shown.

Achieving and measuring repeat visits is worthwhile since, according to Flores and Eltvedt (2005), on
average, purchase intent sees a double-digit increase after someone has been to a site more than once.

For some promotional techniques, tagging of links on third-party sites will not be practi- cal. These will be
grouped together as unattributed referrers. For word-of-mouth referrals, we have to estimate the amount
of spend for these customers through traditional market research techniques such as questionnaires or
asking at point of sale. The use of tagging enables much better insights on the effectiveness of promotional
techniques than is possible in traditional media, but due to its complexity it requires a large investment in staff
time and tracking software to achieve it. It is also very dependent on cookie deletion rates.
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 20

To see how a budget can be created for a digital campaign, complete Activity 8.3.

1 Level of investment in digital assets

The digital assets are the creative that support a campaign such as that shown in Mini case
study 8.4, they include:
● display ad or affiliate marketing creative such as banners and skyscrapers;

 email templates;
 video, audio and other interactive media such as Flash animations, games or screensavers
which form a microsite.
As with traditional media, there is a tension between spend on the advertising creative and the media space
purchased to run the executions. There is a danger that if spend on media is too high, then the quality of the
execution and the volume of digital assets produced will be too low

Step 6. Integration into overall media schedule or plan

In common with other communications media, digital media are most effective when they are
deployed as part of an integrated marketing communications approach. Kotler et al. (2001)
describe integrated marketing communications as:
the concept under which a company carefully integrates and coordinates its many com-
munications channels to deliver a clear, consistent message about the organisation and its

The characteristics of integrated marketing communications have been summarised by Pickton

and Broderick (2001) as the 4Cs of:
Coherence – different communications are logically connected.
Consistency – multiple messages support and reinforce, and are not contradictory.
Continuity – communications are connected and consistent through time.
Complementary – synergistic, or the sum of the parts is greater than the whole!
The 4Cs also act as guidelines for how communications should be integrated.
Further guidelines on integrated marketing communications from Pickton and Broderick
(2001) that can be usefully applied to digital marketing are the following.
● Integrated communications planning is based on clearly identified marketing communi- cations
objectives (see later section).
● Digital marketing should involve management of all forms of contact, which includes
management of both outbound communications, such as banner advertising or direct email,
and inbound communications such as email enquiries.
● Internet marketing should utilise a range of promotional tools. These are the digital media
channels illustrated in Figure 1.9 (page 28).
● A range of media should be used to communicate consistent messages about opportu- nities
for customers to interact with a brand online. Marketing managers need to con- sider the
most effective mix of online and offline media channels shown in Figure 1.9 to encourage
interactions and drive traffic to their online presence.
● The communications plan should involve careful selection of the most effective promo- tional
and media mix. This is discussed at the end of the chapter.
Additionally, we can say that integrated marketing communications should be used to sup- port
customers through the entire buying process, across different media.

Planning integrated marketing communications

The Account Planning Group (, in its definition of media planning, high- lights
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 21

the importance of the role of media planning when they say that the planner:
Needs to understand the customer and the brand to unearth a key insight for the com-
munication/solution [Relevance].

As media channels have mushroomed and communication channels have multiplied, it has
become increasingly important for communication to cut through the cynicism and connect with
its audience [Distinctiveness].

…the planner can provide the edge needed to ensure the solution reaches out through the clutter
to its intended audience [Targeted reach].

…needs to demonstrate how and why the communication has performed [Effectiveness]

Media-neutral planning (MNP)

The concept of media-neutral planning (MNP) has been used to describe an approach to
planning integrated marketing campaigns including online elements. To read a review of
the different interpretations see Tapp (2005), who notes that there are three different
aspects of planning often encompassed with media-neutral planning:
● Channel planning, i.e. which route to market shall we take: retail, direct, sales partners etc.
(we would say this emphasis is rare).
● Communications-mix planning, i.e. how do we split our budget between advertising,
direct marketing, sales promotions and PR.
● Media planning, i.e. spending money on TV, press, direct mail and so on.
In our view, MNP is most usually applied to the second and third elements and the
approach is based on reaching consumers across a range of media to maximise response. For
example, Crawshaw (2004) says:
The simple reason we would want media-neutral communications is so that we can con- nect
the right message with our target audience, at the right time and place to persuade them to do
what we want. This will lead to powerful, effective, value for money communi- cations that
solve clients’ business challenges.

A customer-centric media-planning approach is key to this process. Anthony Clifton, Plan-

ning Director at WWAV Rapp Collins Media Group, is quoted by the Account Planning
Group as saying (quoted in Crawshaw, 2004):
Real consumer insight has to be positioned at the core of the integrated planning process and
the planner must glean a complete understanding of the client’s stakeholders, who they are,
their mindset, media consumption patterns and relationship with the business – are they ‘life-
time’ consumers or have they purchased once, are they high value or low value customers etc.
This requires lifting the bonnet of the database, segmentation and market evaluation.

Key activities in media selection and planning

The starting point for media planning, selection and implementation is to have clearly
defined campaign objectives:
● For direct response campaigns, the most important are response volume, quality and
● For campaigns where awareness and branding are the main outcomes, branding metrics
become important.
Pickton and Broderick (2001) identify six activities in media implementation: target
audience selection, media objectives, media selection, media scheduling, media buying and
media evaluation.
A particularly important aspect for online media is that this evaluation and adjustment can
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 22

– and should – occur during the campaign, in order to identify the best placements and
creatives and to refine the ongoing media plan.

Learning from cross-media optimisation studies

Many cross-media optimisation studies (XMOS) have shown that the optimal online
spend for low-involvement products is surprisingly high at 10–15 per cent of total spend.
Although this is not a large amount, it compares to previous spend levels below 1 per cent for
many organisations.
XMOS research is designed to help marketers and their agencies answer the (rather involved) question:
‘What is the optimal mix of advertising vehicles across different media, in terms of frequency, reach and
budget allocation, for a given campaign to achieve its marketing goals?’

The mix between online and offline spend is varied to maximise campaign metrics such as reach, brand
awareness and purchase intent. Table 8.7 summarises the optimal mix identified for four famous
brands. For example, Dove (IAB, 2004) found that increasing the level of interactive advertising to 15 per
cent would have resulted in an increase in over- all branding metrics of 8 per cent. The proportion of online
is small, but remember that many companies are spending less than 1 per cent of their ad budgets online,
meaning that offline frequency is too high and they may not be reaching many consumers.

The reasons for using and increasing the significance of online in the media mix are similar to those for
using any media mix as described by Sissors and Baron (2002):

 Extend reach – adding prospects not exposed by a single medium/other media.

 Flatten frequency distribution – if audiences viewing TV ads are exposed too many times, there
is a law of diminishing returns and it might prove better to reallocate that budget to online media.
 Reach different kinds of audiences.
 Provide unique advantages in stressing different benefits – based on the different charac- teristics of
each medium.
 Allow different creative executions to be implemented.
 Add gross impressions if the other media is cost-efficient.
 Reinforce messages by using different creative stimuli.
Briggs et al. (2005) give the example of the launch of a new model of car. Their XMOS study provides
these insights:

 Advertising works, but the price of some media has been bid up to make it inefficient compared to
 TV generates the greatest level of absolute reach and produces high levels of purchase-
consideration impact, but is less cost effective compared to magazine and online.
 Magazines and online category-related sites are similar in their impact, being very selec- tive and
efficiently delivering ‘in-market’ prospects.
 Electronic roadblocks are the most cost-efficient, and can produce significant daily reach (40
per cent or more); however, they are not as scalable as TV.
 While roadblocks delivered 40 per cent reach in a day, TV can deliver nearly twice the level in a
single day.
 Due to changing media habits of consumers, Ford’s campaign could be fine-tuned to increase
sales by 5 per cent without spending a dollar more.
For integrated communications to be successful, the different techniques should be suc- cessfully
integrated through time as part of a campaign or campaigns.

Figure 8.23 shows how communications can be planned around a particular event. (SE denotes ‘search
engine’; C1 and C2 are campaigns 1 and 2.) Here we have chosen the launch of a new version of a website,
but other alternatives include a new product launch or a key seminar. This planning will help provide a
Chapter 8 Campaign planning for digital media 23

continuous message to customers. It also ensures a maximum number of customers are reached using
different media over the period.

In keeping with planning for other media, Pincott (2000) suggests there are two key strategies in
planning integrated Internet marketing communications. First, there should be a media strategy which
will mainly be determined by how to reach the target audi- ence. This will define the online promotion
techniques described in this chapter and where to advertise online. Second, there is the creative strategy.
Pincott says that ‘the dominant online marketing paradigm is one of direct response’. However, he goes on
to suggest that all site promotion will also influence perceptions of the brand.

Finally, here are five questions about integration you must ask when creating a campaign:

1. Consistent branding and messaging. Is the branding and messaging sufficiently similar (coherent)
throughout the campaign?
2. Varying the offer, messaging and creative through the campaign. Is offer and messag- ing varied
sufficiently through the campaign? With each different medium and wave of the campaign, it can
improve results to subtly vary the offer, message and creative. This might appear to conflict with
the first guideline, but the two can be compatible, since:
 different treatments and offers will appeal to different people and achieve different results;
 if each communication in a campaign is identical, then future campaign waves will be
 escalating or improving offers during a campaign can achieve better response.
3. Frequency (number) and interval of communications. Are you exposing the audience
sufficiently or too much to your messages? This is a difficult balance to strike. In our
view, some marketers often undercommunicate for fear of overcommunicating!
With online media buys, it’s also important to think about frequency as well as reach. Increases in frequency
will usually increase awareness as for any medium – though di- rect response will usually peak quite
quickly before ebbing away. If you have defined touch strategies that mandate a minimum or maximum
number of communications within a period – and the interval between them – you should check that your
plans fit in with these or that they do not constrain your campaign.

4. Sequencing of communications. You have the option to:

 launch your campaigns online first;
 launch your campaigns offline first;
 launch your campaigns simultaneously online and offline.
Here are some examples where your online and offline activities might not launch simultaneously:

 a campaign for an event promotion starts with a direct mail or an email;

 e-communications are reserved as contingency – in case offline response volumes are not
high enough;
 a promotion is launched online first (notified by email) to appeal to loyal customers;
 an unusual ad execution is launched online first to create a buzz;
 a press release is announced first online so that it can be transmitted by particular
 a timed or limited offer is launched online, because timing of receipt can be more
accurately assured.
5. Optimising timing. Do communications get delivered and received at the optimal time? For
online display advertising, PPC and email marketing there are specific times of the day,
days of the week or times of the month that your message will work best.