Digital Needs To Address Overall Brand Metrics Says Digitas EVP de Greve

DigitasNorman de Greve is Executive Vice President at Digitas, an integrated advertising agency and a member of the Publicis Groupe.

de Greve recently spoke to about a wide range of topics across digital advertising. What is the big problem that needs to be solved in digital in your estimation?

NdG: We need a brand tracking study that shows the influence of digital marketing on overall brand metrics. We have things like Dynamic Logic for digital campaigns and Dimestore for individual ad units, but we need a brand tracker that can identify the cumulative effect of all digital marketing activities on strengthening the brand.

Today, we don’t have a very good solution.  We have individual campaign pieces that are complicated for marketers to add together and it leads them to ask, “Why does it look like so many things are working, but my overall brand metrics aren’t moving enough?”

We have to tie digital metrics to the overall brand metrics in a much more effective way.  I feel like one of the brand tracking companies ought to put this together. And if they don’t… perhaps Google or someone else should.

What would be the attributes that are tracked by this brand tracker?

It needs to start by connecting to the metrics marketers are already comfortable with – the general funnel metrics – awareness, favorability, consideration, sales, and loyalty.

Start there, and then show how online activities are contributing to movements in the overall metrics.  Media mix modeling is one approach used to determine the influence of online marketing, but we need better insight into attitudinal movements. We have it on the campaign level, but we need it at an overall brand level.

It’s a big problem.  I bet that Digital marketing activities are moving overall brand metrics in a much more effective way than we can tell.  However, without a tracker showing the overall influence, marketers don’t get the confidence to scale.

Over time a tracker could help us understand the time based and cumulative effect of online marketing activities vs. other marketing activities.  That would be really useful. I haven’t seen it, if it exists.

Are there problems in display, specifically, right now that still need to be solved or fixed?

We need to further develop the emotional impact of online marketing.  Aol’s Project Devil is a good example of focusing in this area.  It’s really important if we want more brand dollars to move online.

We have incredible scale in display on the portal homepages, for example. We just need to find new ways to build brands there, and have greater visibility to what’s working.

What’s the marketer perspective on display? Can you talk a little about where it fits in with their strategic planning?

Some marketers look at display as, “How do I get more impression volume for my ad?” While others are asking, “How do I use display to create deeper experiences and more value for the platform idea I’ve developed?”

Those are different levels in the evolution of digital sophistication. In a way, I think it works for both. It’s OK to get impression volume, but I think you’re not getting the most value out of display.  Leading marketers are asking “How should my brand come to life online?” Or, put another way, “How do I use online to create richer experiences that can then be communicated across channels?”

Is there momentum toward digital today from the client and his/her strategic plan?

There continues to be momentum in digital, for sure.  Video, social, mobile, and local are all driving it.  And, consumers are demanding it. We’re seeing great attitudinal impact with original video in particular, which is bringing more dollars online—as example, we held our annual NewFront last week during Internet week.  The half-day session brought Digitas’ clients together with leading content creators, distributors and talent in a dialog on unique digital video programming opportunities.  Over 500 people attended, half were clients, and the live stream event attracted over 250,000 streams.

There also continues to be growth in shopper and acquisition marketing.  These are the data-intensive petri dishes of what’s to come across the funnel, because the advertising is more standardized and it’s easier to quantify business impact.  And, many of our clients are seeing improved acquisition results by adding online brand-building activities, which is contributing to the digital momentum.

So to your question about strategic planning, it’s on every strategic plan.  The question is where marketers are on the sophistication curve – some are using it to get impressions, while leading marketers are asking, “How can I help create differentiated experiences?”  Those are different things.

I think you see a lot of value in the experiences. American Express (AMEX), I have to say, has done some really interesting things.  I give them credit for taking the risks.

How does the agency need to work internally to be effective in digital in your opinion?

Digital is so many things (display, search, social, mobile, video, SEO, sites, etc).  It’s hard for one person to know all those things.  It takes a well-oiled model with lots of specialists working together to create a digital ecosystem for a brand.

Leading agencies are seamlessly integrating creative, media, technology, and analytics into content development, audience design and distribution.  It’s really hard to do in a symbiotic way that has everybody working well together.

At Digitas, we’ve done it for 15 years. It’s taken a good portion of those15 years to get it to work really smoothly, and to find a culture where the best talents are inspired but also collaborative.

Now people come in and they feel it. And actually it feels a lot nicer. It feels like a place you’d rather work to help your team shine versus trying to be the sole star.

Why do you think Digitas is successful in doing that?

We’re successful at it because our culture is so strong that it attracts the right people. And we place a high value not just on creativity and IQ, but also on emotional intelligence (EQ) because you have so many diverse people who need to build on each other’s work.

Not many people in my role, leading the Strategy and Analysis group, would say, “I put a high value on EQ.”   We place a high value on it because if you can’t get your message through effectively, it’s not very useful.

Follow Norman de Greve (@normandg), Digitas (@digitas) and (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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