Visual Web makes luxury brands see digital in different light

Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg is senior director of marketing at TripleLift

By Michael Goldberg

For luxury brands, image is everything. For decades, luxury brands carefully built and cultivated a distinct persona that was held to impeccable standards, especially across the many touch points that the brand leveraged when communicating to its audience through advertising.

Think about some of the most iconic luxury brand advertisements and chances are you will picture a slick, glossy print ad with marginal copy, stunning photography of a beautiful model or product shot in vibrant colors or minimalistic black and white.

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Everything from the color palate down to the placement of the logo was meticulously critiqued to ensure it met the brands high quality of standards.

What typically does not spring to mind is a blinking, flashing 250 X 350 banner ad imploring you to BUY NOW! It is no wonder that luxury brands were so hesitant to dive into digital.

However, with their target audience increasingly browsing and buying online, as well as the innovation offered by mobile and tablet devices, luxury brands felt they had a platform that could possibly do their luxurious products justice.

Pinning hopes
According to a study by Luxury Interactive, luxury brand marketers significantly increased their digital marketing spend by as much as 85 percent last year.

By 2015, 63 percent of luxury marketers claim digital marketing will be the most important form of marketing for their brands.

Undoubtedly, the rise of high-impact rich media and digital video has helped luxury brands present their messages with some level of elegance. However, they still face a number of challenges, namely banner blindness and not being able to connect with customers on an emotional level.

With the rise of visual social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, luxury brands suddenly have a channel to effectively communicate their products and services in the most simplistic, yet powerful way through the use high-touch imagery served directly into the consumers social feed.

This has been the closest ad development to the storied print ad a beautiful image that a reader encounters at the turn of a page while browsing through content and luxury brands wasted no time in experimenting with this engaging social tool.

Photo finish
According to some studies, luxury brands typically post an average of six pictures per week and 63 percent link to Instagram directly from their brand site. It is essentially a high-tech form of window-shopping to which consumers have become quite addicted. No wonder Omnicom just announced a multimillion-dollar deal to run ads on Instagrams platform.

The impetus behind the Instagram pact for Omnicom can be attributed in no small way to the massive success of a Michael Kors campaign.

The luxury retailer was one of the early adopters of Instagrams ad program in late 2013. Despite naysayers cries that ads do not belong on sites such as Instagram, the brand gained nearly 34,000 new followers in less than a day of running the ad.

Omnicom is clearly looking to replicate that success and brands are likely strategizing about how they can best represent their unique brand voices in this visual medium.

Fortunately for brands such as Michael Kors, this new visual medium is not limited to a handful of sites including Instagram and Facebook. Daily, more sites from Time Inc., USA Today and Martha Stewart systematically move away from text-heavy layouts and leverage big, beautiful imagery as the focus of their site.

As the visual Web becomes the new standard, publishers are forgoing banners and seeking more integrated native advertising experiences.

As a result, graphically rich sites offer luxury marketers the exact type of medium that they have been waiting for: an image-driven opportunity to engage their customers through pictures versus text-heavy, disruptive ad units.

FOR LUXURY MARKETERS, the visual brand identity is so important because it captures the brands personality, essence and emotional values without having to rely on frivolous words that cheapen the brand.

A uniquely identifiable look-and-feel, the colors and icons, and even the branded environment it lives on define the brand.

With the rise of the visual Web at their disposal, luxury brands will be able to create powerful stories that capture a consumers imagination with the same beautiful imagery that they used in print.

Michael Goldberg is senior director of marketing at TripleLift, a New York-based native advertising platform for the visual Web. Reach him at .

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