In times of economic uncertainty, such as those which we are currently experiencing, it is vital for businesses to understand the role and function of marketing. While it is perhaps a natural reaction to tighten the marketing purse strings when times are tough, this approach will only serve to take you out of the game and perhaps take your brand/business/product/service out of the equation for any potential customers in the market. In a tight economic climate where budgets are restricted, what is needed is a greater level of accountability for the marketing dollars being spent…and if figures published by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia are anything to go by, online marketing may be the key.

According to a recent report compiled by PriceWaterhouseCoopers for IAB, online advertising is continuing to grow with estimated revenues of $450m in Q3 2008 which represents a 30% ($100m) growth over the previous year’s Q3. So what is responsible for this growing confidence in this medium? In a word – measurability!

Online and digital forms of marketing offer a level of measurability that cannot be found in other traditional advertising mediums such as radio, television or print. Do you know how many people read your last advertisement in the newspaper? Of course not, we usually make assumptions based off the newspaper’s circulation figures but they are by no means an accurate measure of what is really going on. We do, however, know the exact numbers of viewers who have clicked on a link in any of the e-newsletters we sent out for our clients. We can measure which messages work well at attracting traffic to the website and which ones do not. With a digital medium, each mouse click can be recorded and behaviours can be analysed to establish consumer’s preferences, needs and wants for certain products and services.

In this way, online represents marketers and advertising buyers unparalleled accountability and measurability for their limited marketing investments. What’s more, online addresses several key challenges of customer acquisition, customer retention, brand awareness and intent to purchase. Online is a tool that can: grab attention; build interest; create desire; demonstrate credibility; call for action and facilitate a transaction to boot. In my opinion, it’s a tool far too good to dismiss.

In short, marketers need to wise-up in these economic conditions and press on. Marketing is perhaps more important than ever in this climate and can help keep your head above water. We all need to be seeking measurability and accountability for our marketing dollars spent, with online representing a great solution. The alternative is to starve your marketing spend, shrink away and make yourself invisible.