Posts Tagged ‘Web 3.0’

The New ROI: Brand Networking

June 10, 2008

With advertisers struggling with ways to deal with Web 2.0, many marketers question the return on investment of Web 2.0 strategies.  After all, while companies like Facebook and MySpace are themselves worth millions, the number of advertisers that have seen success from using these platforms as advertising tools is small (perhaps nonexistent).  While apps that create “viral buzz” for brands may be the rage of Web 2.0 right now, advertisements that are untargeted and rely on the user to give feedback(read more here) are ignored by users, or may even drive high-profile users from a service.

What’s the solution to this problem? Marketers need to change the way they understand online advertising to look for “Return on Involvement”.  Involvement is the time that customers spend with the brand during their time online.  For usual display or search advertising, the involvement is very low.  Involvement is the greatest when a brand can interact seamlessly with a user while refraining from intrusion.

The optimal solution for this is Brand Networking.  Brand Networking is simply a brand controlled social network that is built around the core relationship between the brand and the customer.  The “core relationship” is the interaction where a customer and brand meet and conduct business.  For example, a social network for parents might be sponsored by a brand that is associated with baby products, or a social network for IT specialists might be sponsored by an infrastructure vendor.  What’s the difference between the brand network and placing an ad at Parents.com (online home of American Baby, Parents and Family Circle)?  Placing an ad has no involvement with the user – branding a social network builds a relationship with the user.

Brand Networks are effective at building long-lasting relationships with users, locking customers in to the brand, becuase they provide value to the community they serve and are relevant to the actions of the user.  Because of the core relationship, users have a high percentage of finding the message and branding to be relevant.  Presently, relevance is the top criticism users have about the advertisements on social networks.

Additionally, brand networks offer brands the opportunity to reward positive actions users take.  Imagine a social network around youth soccer that was owned by a sports drink manufacturer.  Now, what would happen if the social network rewarded users with points to spend (on prizes and rewards) when they bought the sports drink?  Clearly, the sports drink would become top of mind for the parents and players of the youth soccer network.  Would you purchse the sports drink if it could help your child’s team get rewards or tickets to professional sporting events?

In addition to involvement, it’s clear how the scenario above would provide measurable results – a model that builds brand loyalty and provides clear measurements of ROI! Today’s increasing media fragmentation makes getting messages across to customers difficult; now imagine reaching customers without distraction and building a relationship with them – what other form of media offers this?

Tomorrow’s high-income consumers are spending an average of 20 hours each month online and 74% of them are using social networks – brand networking targets not only these younger, internet savvy customers, but older customers who using social networks at increasing rates (presently 53% of adults use the internet for social networks).

Brand Networking guru, AJ “Brand Geek” Loiacono (visit his blog here) has recently started a blog about the topic; stay tuned to it as he and his company are on the cutting edge of this emerging market.