12/20/2012 09:09 am ET Updated Feb 19, 2013

Capitalizing on the Digital Explosion

Once characterized as the Wild Wild West, the online advertising frontier is no longer an unstructured terrain with no rules. A playbook has indeed emerged and the brands that are developing targeted advertising and measuring the efficacy of their digital campaigns will be the new sheriffs.

The digital space is exploding and smart phone adoption rates are surging. Offering the right product at the right time on the right screen with the right promotion is becoming imperative as consumers spend increasingly more and more time online. Whether in browsing or buying mode, consumers are constantly toggling among their devices to such a degree that "multi-tasking" has transformed into "digital-devicing."

As traditional advertising channels become progressively displaced by digital avenues, understanding how best to allocate online spend has become an important consideration for brands and their advertising and agency partners. So it's no surprise that understanding how to create authentic consumer engagement while doing so has become equally as important for businesses as they ramp up online.

Ultimately, brands want to extract the biggest bang for their online buck. They're hoping that for every ad shown an offer is responded to or a product is bought.

Well... when was the last time you clicked on an online advertisement?

Right. So how can brands up this "win rate" when consumers have a pretty turned off attitude when it comes to online advertising?

Let's deconstruct this.

Consumers will frequent a certain website because they recognize themselves in that site's particular offering. Whether a discussion platform for new moms, a blog on ski equipment, or a forum for grilling enthusiasts -- these sites are all extensions of their target audience. They represent a natural addendum to their target audience's personal narrative, and this target audience represents a lucrative cache of eyeballs for advertisers.

Yet advertisements must occupy a relevant place within consumers' web of associations to generate positive awareness and encourage conversion. To break the barrier of indifference and wield the most impact, advertisements need to build a meaningful relationship with consumers by being intentionally positioned, relevant, and compelling.

Brands need to utilize a battery of innovative methods to create meaningful targeted online advertising that creates this crucial consumer centric relationship.

Here are three guidelines that brands should consider following on their digital crusade:

1. Create strategic alignment with targeted publisher sites. Brands can establish authentic brand engagement by directly and in real-time appealing to what matters most and is relevant to their core consumers. Google's Display Network (GDN) enables brands to develop and refine this reach.

With extensive access to over one million sites and through refined targeting techniques (i.e. contextual, audience, interest, topic, geo-market, mobile), managed placements, remarketing, and analytical tracking tools, brands and their advertising and agency partners can create simple yet powerfully integrated, customized digital advertising campaigns that seamlessly interact with their target consumers.

2. Create cross channel placements. Having a multi-presence on multi-platforms will further optimize brand penetration across consumers' varied dimensions of influence, reaching them where and when it matters most. Whether on their laptop, tablet, or mobile device, brands should strive for organic engagement with consumers across multiple targeted touch points throughout their pathway to purchase.

In so doing, brands create a virtual harmonious ecosystem of non-invasive, integrated and reinforcing advertising elements that does not disrupt consumers' online behavior but rather enhances overall user experience and engagement.

3. Track online campaigns and measure the results. Brands need to see what works and that can only be truly assessed with rigorous measurement. Businesses should be able to design advertising campaigns according to their desired specificity and to learn on a granular and guided level what it takes to "get it right."

For some businesses, getting it right might mean experimenting with different campaigns. For others, getting it right might mean monitoring the ad groups that are receiving higher click through rates (CTR) and transaction conversion rates (TCR). Still for others, getting it right might mean tracking where the consumer is along their purchasing funnel and genuinely interacting with them at calculated checkpoints while they're in an active buying mindset.

The bottom line is that consumers are more inclined to respond to online advertisements that have direct relevancy to what they care about. Precious brand equity is at stake if this critical element is overlooked. Understanding this tension and implementing the above will ensure that it isn't.