The Marketing Battle: Brand Awareness or Media Buying?

What are the respective and variant objectives behind media buying versus brand awareness?

At the London Summit last month, the fight was on. Nick, the gladiator Lewis, CMO at Leverate battled it out with David, the stormer Stoch, Director of Meerkat PR. The subject under heated debate was where do you place your marketing dollars?

A cover story in a high tier publication site or through aggressive keyword acquisition? At the core of the argument was the determination of whether financial brokers are better off venturing beyond digital, by being a major sponsor at the next global forex event or are they better off buying media coverage on Google and Facebook?

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However, for the purpose of clarity, let’s break down the debate in to its component parts; what are the respective and variant objectives behind media buying versus brand awareness?

Media Buying – Direct response and measurable

The distinct advantage of media buying is that marketers can get direct responses that are contained and measurable. Media buying whether that be in the form of banners, search rankings or advertised posts, is the marketing arena’s most direct tool for acquisitioning sales leads.

Whilst media buying can become horrendously expensive, it does have its benefits in the sense that campaigns are targeted, quantifiable and enables a direct correlation between investment and outcome.

For example, a broker might offer a sale promotion in the wake of a big economic news event. In this sales scenario, the number of clicks can be collected at the end of the period and compared to other similar campaigns.

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The broker can compare specific campaign projects simply by adding a unique tracking code for each campaign that keeps record of the number of clicks received. Providing enormous insight, these direct responses provide clear evidence on whether a certain campaign is effective or not.

However, the short fall of media buying is that the impact is only realized in the short term. Once a campaign is over, that’s it, and it tends to leave little impact of imprinting your brand on the mind of your audience.

Brand Awareness – The long haul to top of mind

And it’s the ability for your brokerage to be the first brand that your prospective lead thinks of that necessitates incorporating brand awareness into your marketing strategy. Brand awareness, is harder to do well and harder to quantify in terms of leads or sales generated from a campaign, but it’s there to gradually develop awareness and build affinity with your brokerage.

While there have been attempts to measure the impact of brand awareness that has included research on ad recall or mind share, these results are harder to quantify and distinguish from the impact of other marketing strategies.

However, there is no denying that in a crowded market place, such as retail trading, brand awareness is essential. For a broker to guarantee its long-term viability, it needs to be able to foster an engaging relationship with its prospective audience by being perceived as a trusted and familiar brand.

Brand awareness is not achieved with random promotions or specials, a stance that falls in line with current financial regulation, which has prohibited the provision of bonuses and inducements. Instead, for the long haul the focus needs to be on your brokerage achieving “top of mind” status, at that point when your prospective customer is looking to trade the market.

While consensus had it that a mix of both was necessary, for Stoch the focus when seeking to develop brand awareness is on having a unique, if not even controversial, pitch that adds insight for those in your industry, thereby giving you a chance to stand out from the crowd and get the attention that you need.

While for Lewis the bottom line is, and always will be, the ROI. That doesn’t necessarily rule out the value of brand awareness, but rather, when brand awareness is done well, you’ll see the results in you more targeted and metric driven efforts of media buying.

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