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3 ways to stay on track in digital marketing

Gary Bond

You don't need a large budget or a fancy marketing team to get customers. As a fair, transparent and instant promotion platform, doko invites experts in the fields of branding, advertising and marketing to share their experiences so you can successfully build your brand and grow your business.

Burberry campaign
Burberry campaign by Gary Bond

Online promotion is a challenging topic to any brand, due to the fast technology advancements and the variety of targeted devices. It seems one can never catch up. That's why we invited Gary Bond, an expert and award winning digital ad designer from the UK, to share a snapshot of digital advertisement developments. His article is followed by our editor's notes on how you, regardless of business size or type, can adapt cost effectively to technology changes. A must read before you start planning your next campaign.

For the last 25 years brands have been searching for the best ways to sell their products and services online. I've worked in digital advertising for 18 years, and handled global campaigns up to 500 brands, and now living in Shanghai I would like to share my experiences between the West and China.

The West

Today we hear a lot about 'Big Data', well yes data is important, but again this is not a new thing. For at least 15 years we've used tracking codes in banner ads to track an array of actions, 'clickthroughs', 'hotspots', 'user-interactions', pixel tracking (mouse/finger movements). We added custom lines of code like “User Clicked Close” and “User Played Video” so that we could build a clear database of as many users actions as possible, using ad servers Tango-Zebra (later to be acquired by Google and rebranded as DoubleClick) and Eyeblaster (later MediaMind, now Sizmek). In 2003-2004 data tracking was at it's peak and brands used this data to drive future campaigns and ad placements.

In 2009 we made the jump from HTML4 to HTML5 which opened up the next generation of online advertising. With the mobile market changing to smart phones, brands needed to keep up and began requesting HTML5 Ads. In the west Flash websites and ads were being replaced daily but in China Flash still dominated for many years and even today Chinese websites will still use Flash Player. In 2014 Google told the world that it would not be supporting Flash Player, this message created a huge storm in the market as there were still many Flash ads being produced worldwide, in 2015 Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox always made the same statement, and in August 2015 all Flash banner ads we nonexistent worldwide.

Johnson & Johnson campaign
Johnson & Johnson campaign by Gary Bond

Digital Advertising in China

I first came to China in 2011 and I remember clearly that advertising was very different, there were no interactive DOOHs, no rich media advertising. If you look at any mediaplans from PHD, Starcom, OMD etc then you can see that they only book a few placements for Chinese ads. Maybe they will order only 5 Jpegs and 2 videos for the Chinese market, where in Hong Kong and Taiwan they will order between 20-50 placements (HTML5, GIF, Jpeg, Video). The reason is because ad serving platforms such as Sizmek and DoubleClick have a hard time hosting their ad's in China.

But one thing that China do completely wipe the floor with the west is Social Media and E-Commerce. Let's start with E-Commerce site Tmall. Tmall allows brands to have a customised page for their products, it's very rare to see that in the west, even Amazon and eBay do not have this. I also believed this is helped by the generation differences, in the west we've been using online shopping since the 90's, but in China E-Commerce boomed with the mobile boom, resulting in users buying directly from their phone, in the west this still has not taken-off, the majority of purchases are still made through computers.

Branding on social media in China, especially WeChat, far exceeds Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, again most online advertising in the west comes from banner ads or pre-rolls. In China its about user engagement through likes, follows and shares. This also comes down to the user type, in the west users are less likely to read an article and share it, but in China users will read and share because it's so simple to do, as the majority of all digital interactions are through their phones, unlike the west.

Editor's Notes

No matter how fast technology advances, the fundamental marketing principles will never change. Keep in mind these 3 key marketing points to stay on track, no matter if you are an international brand or a local store.

  1. Set an objective:
    Doing something for the sake of doing it is probably never a good start in marketing. A clear objective keeps everybody on the same page and determines the next step - metrics.
  2. Metrics:
    "What can be measured can be done" is the marketing golden rule. Identifying your metrics helps you to develop campaign tactics and select the right promotion channels. Most importantly, the metrics allow you to measure success or failure and allow you to improve the next campaign.
  3. Test, test and test:
    We are usually too involved in what we do and can't see things clearly. Before spending too much time and resource on anything, it's always good to quickly test your text content, colors and other elements. For further details on this topic, see our previous article "How to let your customers help you grow?" by senior mobile designer Fay Qi from Booking.com.

About The Author

Gary Bond
Gary Bond

18 years ago I began my career in digital advertising, today I continue that journey having worked in over 50 advertising agencies globally. I've won a range of awards in my career from iAB monthly campaigns, FWA, Google DoubleClick, Awwwards, Sizmek and Campaign Magazines. My speciality was design, development, animation, user-interaction and data tracking. Today, I lived in Shanghai with my wonderful family. A year ago I set up Shanghai based digital creative agency, Tango. We specialise in digital advertising and marketing for a range of international brands.

Come and say hello to Tango Agency.

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