Everyone online is trying to shift business online. But there are more than a few reasons why the digital shift has hit speed bumps. According to a new study by the Internet Advertising Bureau and Bain & Company, media companies need to offer a true triple-play service model — from direct response to awareness to high impact brand engagement — if they want to earn and keep digital business.

How can companies go about achieving that? Well, there are a few options.

The new study, "Building Brands Online: An Interactive Advertising Action Plan," surveyed 700 brand marketers about the factors that inhibit digital advertising today.

The five key obstacles that have deterred marketers from shifting more of their brand advertising online are as follows:

  • Ad formats and creative are not innovating and adapting to the medium.
  • There is an excess of undifferentiated, low-cost inventory.
  • There's an overabundance of metrics, but they don't measure what brand marketers want.
  • Media companies lack ideas, strategic expertise and engagement in the planning process.
  • Marketers want cross-platform campaigns, but get silod media programs.

According to John Frelinghuysen, a partner in Bain & Company's media practice and lead author of the study:

“Unmet marketer needs create a major opportunity for media companies to collaborate directly with marketers. But few media companies currently have the capability to fill the gaps in online sales and service.”

The study also offers six ways media companies can rectify the problem:

  • Targeting: Segmented offerings that meet the separate needs of advertisers who are focused on building brands and those who are looking for direct .
  • Optimization: Improve the ways that ad inventories are sold, by offering full-service to self-service to partnerships with ad networks and resellers.
  • Prioritization: Set the right priorities, clarify internal roles and accountability and invest in sales staff skills and incentives.
  • Custimization: Offer deeper service and support customized to vertical industries, to help advertisers plan, create and measure the brand impact of online ads.
  • Engagement: Develop solutions with more engaging options and formats, including social networks, video and other rich media.
  • More effective sales: Build sales teams with category experts who respond directly to marketers’ specific needs.

Media and advertising companies have moved online in a piece meal, as needed fashion, meaning that many online sales organizations have lacked the tools necessary to convince advertisers and agencies that online advertising is not an either/or proposition of branding vs. direct response-like click-throughs to one that is more comphrehensive and handles the entire brand identity and growing sales.

The end goal for the IAB and Bain is what Frelinghuysen described as a "triple play offering" that combines brand reach, transactions and brand engagement. Getting there is another story, but as media companies bleed money from print, they are scrambling to get a better grasp on digital, which holds the promise that these efforts will become more of a priority. And quickly.

Meghan Keane

Published 12 November, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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