Marketing by numbers and the death of advertising

The love affair with digital marketing has only just begun for people working in construction industry PR. The sector is now truly in thrall to the mesmerising possibilities of being able to see who is reading what.

And it's powerful information. For the first time in my PR life I can tell my clients not only who could have read that article, but who did. And how long they spent reading it. And what they did next. Amazing.

We use those tools to refine what messages we present to which groups of people and our PR activity becomes much more targeted.

We spread the word wider by supporting our social media feeds in ways that bring unprecedented results. We recently promoted a technical video on Facebook and achieved over 50,000 views for less than £100.

That's the kind of calculation that makes the financial departments very happy and justifies our budgets. So much so that we are seeing an increasing shift away from traditional advertising on the basis that advertisements simply don't generate the same level of engagement. And that's as true for online advertising as for print.

But - and there is a but - these measurement tools do not tell the whole story. We can produce numbers and analysis in any way you choose, but let's not overlook one crucial element: brand awareness.

I would argue that you can't understand the way people feel about your brand simply by counting the numbers. Traditional market research - actually asking people how they feel about your brand - should still be a vital part of the marketing programme. Then you know what perceptions you are trying to change, or support.

Building a brand can take decades and, PR advocate though I truly am, I would suggest that advertising plays an important part in that process. The single striking proposition, the tone of voice, the creative graphics grab attention in their own way.

Advertising may not generate the same level of enquiry as the feature article but should work together with the PR messaging to produce that all-important brand perception.

At the end of the day, most buying decisions include an emotional element and you can't measure that by numbers alone.

Posted by Anna Hern