ACA conference tackles the digi ad-scape » Media in Canada

ACA conference tackles the digi ad-scape

With marketers standing at a fork in the road, the speakers offered digital directives: go where the people are, elicit an emotional response and stop measuring by click-throughs.

Digital advertising evolves at such a pace that it remains an unknown quantity, and its success is difficult to measure, but what is important is that companies go where the people are.

That was the message shared at the ACA 360: Focus on Digital Marketing conference Wednesday in Toronto.

Bill Ratcliffe, SVR, BrainJuicer North America, set the tone for the conference. Using a slide to illustrate, he spoke about how marketers feel they’re standing at a fork in the road, with one road marked the ‘same old shit’ and the other marked ‘crazy new shit.’

According to a BrainJuicer study done for the conference, some marketers are contemptuous, some are disgusted, some are fearful, some are surprised and a large number are happy about what’s happening with advertising in the online world. Despite their feelings, advertisers and their agencies are being pushed down the crazy new road.

To make it worthwhile, companies need to know that, more than anywhere else, ‘feeling is believing.’ It’s even more important, when advertising on the internet, to get an emotional response.

‘The stuff that goes viral is the stuff that moves people,’ Ratcliffe said.

And the Canadian people, according to Bryan Segal, VP sales, ComScore, are out there.

Canada is one of the world’s leaders for internet penetration and more Canadians are on Facebook per capita than any other nationality.

In Canada, Segal said, ‘[online] is a really a great place to be and a great place to see your message.’

He added, ‘People think it’s only the young population that watches video online, but it’s actually spread out among the different age groups.’

Geoff Ramsey, co-founder and CEO, eMarketer, told the audience that advertisers are making the move.

Even with a spending drop of 6% in Canada in 2009, online advertising grew 14% and will grow 16% this year and another 15% in 2011, according to eMarketer numbers.

‘I’d argue we’re not in a cycle, we’re in a cyclone,’ Ramsey said. ‘Whatever you were doing in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, it’s time for a new ball game. There is an inexorable shift.’

What needs to change next, he added, is how the impact of online marketing is measured. The current click-through system of measurement undercounts the awareness, interest and desire created by the online advertisements.

‘We keep looking at that click, and it’s absolutely the wrong way to go,’ said Ramsey. ‘You don’t run a TV campaign on Monday and watch your sales shoot up on Tuesday. Get rid of this idea that we have to measure everything online by the click.’

While the industry continues to grapple with the challenges of online advertising, all the speakers agreed there’s another platform to worry about.

‘The next frontier is mobile,’ Ramsey said. ‘We’re reaching a tipping point. Now is the time to pay attention to mobile.’