There are two reasons a company advertises: to increase the recognition of their brand or to sell a product.
Branding refers to the process of impressing a company name or a product name onto society’s collective brain. Let’s say you have come up with a new brand of soda, or you are opening a new restaurant, or you are selling a new widget. You want to get the product’s name (and sometimes the product’s features and benefits) firmly planted in people’s heads. This is branding.
Branding happens with both new and existing products. When you see a billboard that says nothing but “Coke” on it, or you see a NASCAR car that says “Tide” on the hood, or you see a feel-good ad on TV about a car company or an oil company but there’s no mention of a product, that is branding. The advertiser does not necessarily expect you to do anything today — the advertiser simply wants to impress itself on your consciousness.
On the other hand, a direct sales ad is an ad that is trying to get you to do something today, right now, as you look at the advertisement. If it is an internet ad, the advertiser usually wants you to click on the ad. Many TV commercials want you to call a certain 800 number to purchase their product. Other commercials simply try to create a sense of urgent need for the product so you will buy it the next time you are at the store. Or a direct sales ad will try to convince you to do some other active thing so that you buy something, download something or sign up for something today. The advertiser counts the direct responses to the ad and measures the effectiveness of the ad by those responses.
What branding advertisers came to feel about banner ads is that banner ads are not the most effective vehicle for branding. Relative to a magazine ad or a TV ad, banner ads are small and easily ignored. Direct sales banner ads have a low rate of return, so they must be inexpensive ads in order to pay off for the advertiser. There are successful examples of branding advertising online. Many come in the form of viral video advertisements, splashy flash animations, or sample giveaways. Direct sales online ads are successful as text only ads, contextual ads, and unicast ads which have an average click through rate of five percent.
Do you agree or disagree? Perhaps, I missed something? Either way, I would just love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic… just let me know your alive!