Letters - 15-22 May 2007

Tacoda UK, Equi=Media, TradeDoubler, ScreenFX.

BIG BRANDS SHOULD NOT RESIST USING DATABASE-DRIVEN TECHNOLOGY ONLINE

Paul Goad, Managing director, Tacoda UK

Reading your article on customer segmentation (Why ABC1s won't go away, 1 May, page 26) made me realise just how few tools brand marketers and agencies have to justify their huge ad spend in traditional media.

Having decided to spend so much on familiar media, it's no wonder most brand campaigns steer clear of the web - or why online played such a small part in the article; there have been too many question marks over the profile of the actual customer segment being reached.

Web advertising has been criticised for not having adequate measurement metrics (other than proof by direct response) and this, combined with inadequate reach across some customer segments and concern over placements with blind networks, has put brand advertisers off.

This is why so many big brands stick with site-specific campaigns, where at least an ABCe certificate can verify the numbers and the consumer profile can be assumed from the content.

It's time to start thinking differently about brand campaigns online. The internet now offers behavioural targeting, where brands are able to buy customer segments in much the same way as TV.

At Tacoda, we have more than 350 predefined consumer segments, ranging from business travellers to active gamers - many thousands of active, individual web users who have recently researched specific products and shown personal interest in definable areas.

Layer demographic data over these segments and you have the most accurately defined customer segments available to brands - off and online.

I understand a reluctance to use the web for brand campaigns if it just adds more risk and waste to an already risky and wasteful business, but with large, transparent networks using database-driven technology, there is no excuse for resisting online any longer.

It's time more big brands took a close look at behavioural targeting. It may mean a steep learning curve, but if you don't, you might find someone else behind your desk before long.

IPA BRINGS MEDIA OWNERS AND AGENCIES CLOSER

Andrew Burgess, Managing director, Equi=Media

We have to commend the IPA for its digital survey (Digital health check, 24 April, page 26). Not only was it the first collective and public discussion of the relationship between agencies and media owners, but hopefully it will herald a new era of collaborative working.

The survey highlights that agencies and media owners need to work more closely. However, the consultation the survey has started will only bear fruit if the results are taken on board by both parties.

A common theme of dissatisfaction was media owners' lack of innovation, but without innovative briefs and agencies who challenge media owners, new techniques and formats are unlikely to evolve at the speed desired.

It is also crucial that agencies give media owners the time to explore the possibilities. We should aim, and expect, overall satisfaction levels far higher than the 50% suggested by Ed Ling, IPA digital deputy chairman and strategy development director at I-Level.

For the industry to achieve these improvements across the board, continued dialogue is essential. Thanks to the IPA, the first step has been taken.

EMBRACING WEB 2.0 IS A RISK THAT MUST BE TAKEN

William Cooper, Chief executive, TradeDoubler

Web 2.0 is here to stay and is forcing advertisers to become faster and more flexible in the way they mould their online advertising strategies.

New technologies and outlets are developing faster than the industry can work out how to best utilise them for business purposes.

It's simply impossible to know where the next popular trend will emerge. Today, when ad tools for good old-fashioned web blogs are still being built, web blogging already seems a bit passe - instead, "moblogs" or mobile blogs are all the craze.

Traditional media agencies are under constant pressure to react to these trends. Not only has the space they work within changed beyond recognition, but their audience has become larger and demographically more diverse.

There is a dearth of media agencies who not only can keep up with Web 2.0 advertising, but can also gauge the power and risks of the internet and advise their clients on the best online advertising strategies.

The winners will be businesses and media agencies who understand that these so-called associations with the latest online hit is a calculated business risk that they must be ready to take.

Organisations need to go in with their eyes open and treat digital and online advertising opportunities with the same rigorous, professional due diligence as offline opportunities.

There may be risks, obstacles and a sense of "unknown territory" with Web 2.0, but those who can embrace its evolving nature and approach it as a business opportunity will win.

Either media agencies and advertisers can get on this fast-moving bandwagon, or be ready to be left behind.

LARGE SCREEN FORMAT HELPS BRANDS TARGET SHOPPERS

Chris Green, Head of division - malls, ScreenFX

Your article on Outdoor goes digital (Outdoor supplement, 24 April) really proves that the medium has finally arrived. But things have moved on from "all-singing and all-dancing" digital posters, as advertisers and media agencies are able to work with a truly dynamic and interactive format.

In the shopping centre environment, our MallFX network allows brands to target shoppers while they are in a spending frame of mind, through large format screens. In addition to the benefits mentioned in the piece - greater control of message, time, location and style - advertisers can also engage the consumer and understand their needs in this unique space.

Prompted by the ad, consumers are able to drill down for brands' offers and promotions, while the advertiser receives detailed profiling and quantified results for every touch of a button.

We are now reaching almost three-quarters of a billion shoppers a year and expect this to exceed the billion mark in the next 12 months.

With brand adopters that include Vodafone, Renault and Argos, this certainly is a digital channel that needs to be taken seriously.

- We welcome your letters and e-mails by Wednesday to mwnewsdesk@haymarket.com or MediaWeek, Haymarket Business Media, 174 Hammersmith Road, London, W6 7JP, or fax us 020 8267 8020.

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