CHICAGO -- Procter & Gamble (P&G) executives at Ad:Tech here inspired an audience hungry for success stories by presenting several compelling interactive case studies and insight into their most effective targeting techniques.
The marketing behemoth is employing new ways of connecting with consumers by leveraging several of the Internet's inherent advantages: interactivity, targeting ability, better measurement and accountability.
Tim Kopp, P&G section manager, mistakenly began his panel session by excusing himself for not being on the cutting edge of advertising because of working in the CPG sector. His presentation proved that no online category should be limited by a traditional, old school reputation -- and that consumer relevancy need not be limited by organization size.
Online sampling courts new target
One of Kopp's recent initiatives for the Olay product line integrated an online sampling campaign with an ongoing CRM program to drive a low-cost targeted trial and increase loyalty. They did it through online messaging that went after scalable, high-quality leads, not just numbers.
"In all of our online advertising campaigns, we have to ask ourselves two questions," he said, "What is the direct impact on sales and what impact does it have on the rest of the media mix?"
Olay's online testing, with ACNielsen, drove almost doubled unaided brand awareness and high aided awareness results. Though the purchase probability has yet to be determined, Kopp believes it will be high.
"What we learned from our online initiatives to stimulate retail sales is that marketers have to pre-test creative and follow the basic principles of traditional media when using online. Online has a high offline ROI capability, and our online advertising has been effective at helping us reach a new target," he said.
Messages match category interest
As one of the world's largest marketers with brands that have mass market appeal, P&G must still segment its audience. The company has been looking at the gaming category to target the attractive youth demo and take advantage of the category's repeat interaction.
Old Spice Red Zone deodorant partnered with EA Games in a holistic football theme and performance message online and offline. A bold, fire-engine red advertisement of the deodorant in the end-zone of the football game was successful not only for the placement of the ad but for the alignment of its message with the sports performance theme.
"This ad was in no way subtle, but the ROI on the campaign was the highest of any marketing element tested in the past three years," Kopp told the audience.
Another insightful P&G perspective came from Ted McConnell on the "Advertising's Horizon" panel. As IT fellow at P&G, he sees everything through a media lens. In charge of identifying ways to use technology to break through to customers, his role has become more complex as the media environment continues fragment.
The crisis in mass marketing is creating exciting opportunities for new platforms to be explored by people like McConnell. Unfortunately, the marketing industry lacks measures that can be used across verticals and categories. He believes that marketers as a whole need to decide which measures, even though imperfect, can be used to effectively compare.
"Consumers are taking back control of their attention and audiences are eroding. What's more, our targets are finding more ways to shield themselves from our messages," McConnell complains. "Millennials are information-enabled and as their parents, we have taught them how to become experts at filtering out our messages."
Furthermore, these "experts" are hostile to intrusion, and corporations are not yet prepared to deal with their backlash. P&G's three-year old Tremor division entices Millennials to take an influential role in brand development by playing to their fascination with participation. Tremor invites individuals in its 200,000 teen database to be the first to sample a given product or service. In this way, teens begin to no longer think of advertising negatively, but instead as enhancing their lives.
McConnell and Kopp have found that the biggest incremental burden shift in today's marketplace is the importance of listening to consumers.
"We must be silent and study their beliefs and behaviors." Kopp said. "Being in touch with consumers means going beyond just the occasional focus group."
Kraft understands understanding
Kraft is using the same philosophy -- pursuing insights to understand the consumer, not to make the consumer understand the company.
Mary Beth Stone-West, general manager of Kraft's meals division, described the company's three "I's" cycle: insights, ideas and integration. The cycle turns insights into "big thinking" ideas and marketing communications, captures attention and delivers against the insight, then provides a consistent message no matter where it's delivered.
"This combination is part art, part science. We want to see the world as our customers see it, and live it the way they live it," Stone-West told the audience.
Having tested and trialed, Kraft is now using only the most relevant touch points to reach its customers, one of which is the Internet. Integration has become more strategic and the company will continue to be a strong advocate for using marketing partners to help achieve alignment. That admission that no one organization can create success all on its own is something the industry needs to hear more of.
After listening to Kraft and P&G, it seems big brands are on the right track -- developing small solutions first to the industry's big problems.