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Building Brands in the Digital Age

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Advertisers are using online advertising in innovative ways to build loyalty.

Brands used to be built by memorable TV moments.

There was as time when your life revolved around your favorite TV series. I remember saying I will meet you at 10 p.m. -- after Friends.

There were also those TV ads that when they came on, we knew Christmas was coming. As a child I remember the Coca-Cola ads every Christmas with the big white furry polar bears playing with a bright red coke can, red and white just like Santa Claus. A few years ago they took those ads off TV and people complained it wasn't Christmas without them -- so they brought them back.

Then we grew up and in the '80s, two devices came along that changed TV viewing and advertising, microwave ovens and video recorders.

When I was out with friends, too busy to come home for a family meal. I was telling Mum, "Leave it in the microwave." She was going crazy; we didn't sit together to eat anymore. Then video recorders came along and we were asking, "Can you record this and watch it when I get back?" We weren't sitting together watching TV anymore and we were fast-forwarding the adverts.

Where we now? Internet -- instant this, instant that. Needing information at our convenience. Now we can watch TV by ourselves on iPhone and with Sky+, you can watch your favorite series anytime... what does this leave the world of advertising?

Some things have not changed, however. If advertisers want something solid, something that is going to last, whether personal or brand, they still need to invest in relationships with consumers.

It still takes time... they need to learn to build brand moments online to create lasting customer relationships.

Advertisers can build the most beautiful brand experience on the web, but if people don't come to it is useless. People are not getting the brand connection advertisers crave. Because buyers are interested not in just one click, but a series of interactions, created by questions and answers.

That's nice, does it come in red?! How much does it cost? Is it safe for the kids? And we talk and discuss, continually trying to find out more... mostly independent advice.

We see something -- we discuss, we find information. This combination of searching online and seeing display advertising work together with the aim to create what advertisers call a "conversation with the brand."

People learn by repetition and more so when linked to an emotional connection.

Take for an example the blockbuster Cartier campaign that includes a three-minute film that shows a leopard roaming through snow, deserts, and the streets of Paris until he meets his reincarnation as a diamond bracelet. It's surreal, lush and incredibly cinematic.

And people are engaging with this ad, seeking it out online and sharing it with friends. This is ACTIVELY INTERACTING with adverts for 3 minutes!! Taking six times as long as with a TV advert and investing real emotional involvement.

It is a beautiful example of online branding driving offline conversions. This type of work will become more common in the advertising we see as the notion breaks down that advertisers work to promote brands via offline methods like television or outdoor advertising and use online advertising to get specific responses (such as clicks through to a site to make a purchase). More and more, online advertising will seek to be compelling and emotional, and when successful will aim to make you feel something for the brand rather than just make another click.

This is a key turning point for advertising and the future for online marketing.