Hidden Impact of Display Advertising: Starwood Hotels

[**Disclosure: Sasha H. Muradali is employed by a WPP-owned company.**]

A recent 2010 study by Dynamic Logic (part of WPP) explored the impact of display advertising on brand perceptions and search intent for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.  properties in Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Australia.

The in-depth study found that display adverts have different impacts on target audiences during the different phases of the brand-consumer relationship.

More importantly, the study brought out information, that while applicable to the Asia-Pacific region, should be highly considered in western markets as well.

It showed that messaging tactics should be tailored to consumers throughout the different stages of the brand-consumer relations as a means to engage audiences further and create a deeper sense of brand loyalty (the ideal goal.)

“The bigger battle in search may very well be won before the search is even conducted.”

– Nick Nyhan, CEO of Dynamic Logic

The study had two objectives:

  1. Did display advertising impact brand perceptions?
  2. Did display advertising impact branded search intent?

The target audience for this study were mid‐market to luxury hotel guests:

  • Did display advertising impact brand perceptions?

The studies results suggested that when it came to mid-market guests, during the brand-bonding stage, the overall perception of the brand increased positively.

Adversely, with luxury hotel guests, it simply reinforced their perceptions which stated that they already had a very strong affinity to the brand.

Interestingly enough, it took three to four exposures to a display advertisement to shift audience perceptions for the less engaged members of the audience in general.

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  • Did display advertising impact branded search intent?

Once a person is exposed to a brand repeatedly, whether they have a positive POV (point-of-view) or not, is not necessarily pointless, but rather not very helpful if they have no intent to purchase.

It defeats the purpose of the advertisement in the first place.

Loyalty is fantastic, use of purchasing power is better.

The study found that while the display advertisements helped reinforce brand perceptions with the already ready-to-consume luxury hotel guest segment, the impact was stronger with their behavior.

Since these people were already positive towards the brand — the continued to use their purchasing power and were consistent in their behavior.

However, it took a larger amount of effort and persuasion to get mid-market hotel guests to reach the point of purchase (or reservation we should say rather) with Starwood properties.

The study found that this is probably because of the different stages of brand exposure and audiences reactions across these stages.

Were they happy? Were they sad?

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In essence, display advertising had a different impact on different customer segments across different markets and this is not a surprise.

Markets should be targeted and treated as individuals.

Coca-Cola knew how to do this in an exquisite fashion when they launched their World Cup 2010 Campaign alongside Somali-Canadian singer, K’naan and his anthem “Wavin’ Flag.”

In the same sense, this was something Nike failed to understand in same World Cup 2010 sphere.

Display advertising helps promote a larger intent to purchase, while reinforcing brand loyalty and awareness for those already in “the know” of the brand (in the case of Starwood, as expected, the luxury hotel guests.)

While, on the other end for those less familiar (mid-market hotel guests),  it helped to build a stronger brand affinity, which in itself is positive anyway because of the potential to purchase later.

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A few things:-

  • Display advertising should be fully integrated, online and off.

It would not only increase brand affinity and awareness, but by targeting audiences online as well (via something such as Google AD Words) would most certainly increase a consumers intent to purchase.

Hello, Times Square! Piccadilly Circus! Yeah, exactly, I thought so.

  • Tactics of all shapes and forms

Just because something is labeled the “first stage” as a print display does not necessarily mean that it is the “first stage” for someone if they happen to see an advert online as well.

Companies need to figure out what they are doing and how they will be doing it.

Will it be online at the same time that it is offline? What part of the offline world? Magazines? Billboards? Bus Stops? Does it matter? – Actually, it does.

As for online, are we talking Google AD Words? Bing AD Words? Reddit and Facebook targeted adverts? Is SEO a part of the strategy? Does it matter? – Actually, it does.

The stages of which an advertisement ‘hits’ the intended targets are obviously very important, but the facilitation of that ‘hit’ is equally, if not more, important in order to achieve an optimal end result.

Companies cannot find their treasure if the map is screwed up.

[Source: WPP’s Digital Loop February 2011 Edition]

**All advertisements property of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. & all information accredited to Dynamic Logic and Yahoo!**


Sasha H. Muradali runs the Little Pink Blog (formerly Little Pink Book PR). She holds a B.S. Public Relations from the University of Florida with a minor in Dance (’07) and an M.A. International Administration with a concentration in Communication from the University of Miami (’08). She loves Twitter (@SashaHalima), Harry Potter and the colour pink. Get a copy of the Little Pink Blog delivered to your Kindle and find us on Facebook.

Little Pink Blog & Little Pink Book PR are federally registered trademarks of Little Pink Book PR, LLC. © 2009-2011 Little Pink Blog & Little Pink Book PR. All Rights Reserved.


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