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Digital Platform Index Gives Marketers Online Brand Strategy 'GPS'

Advertiser use of digital platforms is growing at a rapid rate, but when it comes to knowing how to use digital to promote specific brands, marketers are not getting much in the way of strategic advice, according to Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, a brand and customer loyalty and engagement consultant company.

Most brands, Passikoff says, are on Facebook because they're afraid not to be. But he says behind closed doors, these brands don't feel confident that they are strategically leveraging what they are doing on Facebook to best connect consumers to their brands. Simply knowing what digital platforms people are using, via digital usage reports, doesn't dig deep enough into how consumers engage with brands online and choose brands they want to buy, he adds.

The Brand Keys solution for the issue is the Digital Platform GPS. The program, says Passikoff, introduces the Digital Platform Engagement Index, which will help brands understand what's behind consumer engagement on these digital platforms, aiding them in executing a targeted strategy for their brands digitally.

In developing the DPEI, Brand Keys examined 83 product and service categories and identified how digital platforms connect with key decision-making criteria. It looked at 500 digital platforms, ultimately sorting them into 14 categories.

Those categories include: blog, brand websites, browsing portals, classified ads, digital magazines, digital newspapers, email, gaming, mobile apps, music, online video, search, shopping portals and social networks. Then, 598 brands were examined to see which ones Brand Keys found to be "doing their digital best" on specific digital platform categories.

"While most every product and service is doing something digital, some brands are, according to consumers, delivering," Passikoff says.

Here are those brands:
Blogs: Major League Baseball, Netflix
Brand Websites: Macy's, Amazon
Browsing Portals: Samsung Flat-Screen TVs
Classified: Hyundai, Ford
Digital Magazine: Home Depot
Digital Newspaper: Expedia
Email: Costco, AT&T Wireless
Gaming: Patron Tequila, Coors
Mobile Apps: Apple iPhone
Music: Coca-Cola
Online Video: Call of Duty, Kindle
Search: Hilton Hotels
Shopping Portals: Skechers
Social Networks: Coca-Cola, McDonald's

The study also measured self-reported time consumers spent weekly on any or all of the 14 digital platform categories. A total of 49,000 users were interviewed from across the country. The study found digital involvement varies widely depending on the brand. Some consumers spent as many as 45 hours per week on digital sites related to auto brands. Some spent as many as 84 hours a week on sites related to cell phones. Gaming sites found some respondents looking for as many as a whopping 92 hours per week. Others spent up to 35 hours at online price clubs.

Brand Keys has done work for many clients, including AT&T, Avis, Domino's Pizza, Papa John's, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's and Wells Fargo.