In digital advertising, marketers have traditionally relied on direct response advertising. But this is changing—brand marketing growth is outpacing direct response ad growth in the digital sphere.
For the past three years, Nielsen, in conjunction with the CMO Council, has surveyed marketers to learn more about how—and where—they’re spending advertising dollars. This year, marketers reported running significantly more (33%) digital brand advertising campaigns than digital direct response ones. Compared to last year, when marketers ran slightly more direct response campaigns than brand advertising campaigns, brand advertising is accelerating across digital. Overall, 70% of marketers increased the amount of budget allocated to digital brand advertising in 2014, a 15% rise from last year.
Digital brand advertising's growth corresponds with a more general increased demand for digital advertising. The majority of marketers reported that they planned to use online and mobile platforms more, while their planned use of offline mediums either stayed the same or decreased.
It’s no surprise that the growth in digital brand advertising aligns with the rise of brand-friendly formats. Within the digital medium, 81% of marketers planned to increase their use of social and 65% of marketers planned to increase their use of digital video for their advertising campaigns. Many marketers feel that these two formats are best suited for multi-screen campaigns; accordingly both formats have grown consistently since 2012. For digital videos in particular, 49% of marketers say that shifting budget from offline advertising sources have funded the increased digital video activity. This further reinforces how advertising budgets mirror consumer behaviors—as consumers increasingly move across more screens, advertising budgets are also shifting from an isolated, channel view to a more multi-screen approach.
Despite digital brand marketing's growth, however, there are still plenty of improvement opportunities to grow digital brand investment even further. In particular, marketers say that improved online measurement capabilities and brand-relevant metrics would lead to greater digital advertising spend.
This is a momentous time in digital advertising, and advertising as a whole, as marketers shift to a more screen-agnostic approach to reaching, influencing and driving a desired action from their audience. However, many opportunities still exist for all players involved. Large gaps remain between marketer expectations and agency and media owner practices when it comes to measurement and optimization. These gaps impede digital advertising growth. By working together to close these gaps, our industry can get one step closer to matching digital ad spend with digital time spend—and making screen-agnostic advertising a reality.
For more information, including a look at best practices as described by our survey respondents, see the full report.