As online marketing continues to evolve, businesses have increasingly sought new ways to reach customers. According to a recent study, one of the best ways for businesses to establish their brand is display advertising.

The study is called “Branding on Display,” and was released by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) in November of 2012 (see the press release here). The study sought to examine the way branding is accomplished through online mediums. To compile the results, the OPA used an online questionnaire with marketing and advertising executives. All participants had to be directly involved with video and display advertising with a minimum of $1 million spent on digital advertising in the past year.

One of the latest trends in online marketing has been to utilize social networking sites such as Facebook in order to better connect with customers. However, the study showed that in many ways, Facebook may not be the best way for businesses to establish their brand.

One of the most surprising revelations in the study was that marketing decision-makers were significantly more satisfied with premium content publishers – the type of sites that Vantage Local places display ads on –  than Facebook. In fact, the numbers were not even close. In total, 78% of respondents were very satisfied with the marketing completed through premium content sites while only 51% were pleased with the efforts completed on Facebook.

This satisfaction is not just in one category. In fact, the study revealed that the decision-makers found online display on premium content superior to Facebook in most critical branding areas. When it comes to brand safety, decision-makers preferred premium content at a rate of 71% to 36% for Facebook. It was also shown that premium content publishing sites offered more creative options, better captured the attention of audiences and ultimately provided the best platform for viewing an ad.

Other specific findings suggest that more traditional approaches are likely to reach a wider audience with a more targeted message. There may be more immediacy with Facebook, but other online routes provide more variety, which allows companies to tailor their message and better control their brand. This can improve brand favorability and ultimately promote sales by better reaching customers who are likely to buy. Facebook ads simply do not offer the same platforms to meet performance objectives, and are not as effective as online display for getting customers to the business website or in a physical store. Mostly, for the best return on investment, top level marketing professionals prefer premium content display advertising to establish a brand and promote sales.

More than that, “Branding on Display” shows that while social media may be the latest trend, it is still not the best way to go about online display advertising. Marketing campaigns are often limited in format and space with sites like Facebook, but using premium content sites, there is more flexibility, which better suits brand-focused advertising campaigns. Overall, Facebook and other similar sites simply cannot best achieve branding objectives with a lesser ability to impact potential customers and boost sales. The study’s conclusion, therefore, suggests that while social networking has some potential, marketers still prefer the options offered by top media brands for online display advertising.