Media minds mesh at web conference

Digital buyers discuss planning, budgets, and the temptations of search marketing at yesterdays' Mesh Web Conference.

In a year of flat-or-falling marketing budgets, the good news for digital media is that interactive spend is not decreasing, said digital media buyers during a discussion at yesterday’s Mesh Web Conference, a two-day event held at the Mars Centre in Toronto.

While the options for online investments are vast, some have better consumer insight and ROI than others. ‘I think search is an enormous opportunity,’ said Carolyn Convey director, of digital media at Neo@Ogilvy, during the discussion titled Managing Your Ad Buy, referencing the advancements made in targeting and measurement abilities of search marketing.

But Maura Hanley, SVP direct and interactive at MediaCom, was less enthused about the search platform. ‘It’s this great, all-you-can-eat buffet, it’s so tempting,’ said Hanley, warning that some brands invest too much in search and not enough in other types of brand-awareness advertising. A company can put itself out of business by not investing in other drivers that will make consumers click on that link, Hanley said.

Those other drivers can be both off and online, from traditional, to attention-grabbing new media tactics. In terms of media innovation that reaches out to consumers in new ways, Convey cited experimentation with new digital methods such as augmented reality, which Nissan used to advertise the Cube in the US, and, closer to home, Scanlife 2D barcode, which National Post premiered this week, which links print to mobile.

When an audience member expressed doubt that mobile is the next big thing, Travis St.Denis, media supervisor at MediaEdge, explained that the platform is being successfully deployed, but as more than a one-off strategy. ‘We’ve developed entire products around mobile,’ said St.Denis, who has worked on branding and social media campaigns for Molson. What’s needed, he said, is help from the providers to create affordable technologies so that Canadian brands are able to build mass audiences around mobile. ‘The real heart of it is in relationships with the community,’ said St. Denis, about the long-term investment needed in order for a brand to establish itself and do something engaging and creative in the space.

But low cost and mass audiences are still the basic goals of some online advertisers, making digital not unlike other mediums, said Hanley. ‘It’s not about whether they use Twitter or not, it’s about what role does this product play in their lives and how do they make their purchasing decisions,’ Hanley, tells MiC. In that sense, online strategies and ROI measurements are often analogous to offline types of media, she explains. ‘I think it’s exactly the same problem that you have with an event or a sampling program. What is the value of taking over Union Station for example? It’s a lot of people but it’s certainly not everybody,’ Hanley says.