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The Four Faces of Digital Marketing

The Four Faces of Digital Marketing

David Aaker

Digital marketing has four distinct marketing objectives. Failing to recognize these differences will lead to ineffective and sub-optimal digital effort. 

The four digital program types vary in terms of how connected they are to the offering—from augmenting the offering, to supporting the offering, to amplifying marketing programs for the offering to being unconnected to the offering. They also will vary in terms of what aspects of digital are being employed. I’ll explore each objective.

1. Augmenting or enabling the offering by extending its value proposition. 

Starbucks has an app that allows a speedy purchase, the ability to tip, earn stars to redeem rewards, find stores, find personalized offers and more. Competitors without such an augmentation will be at a disadvantage. When the augmentation is significant, a new subcategory can be created that renders competitors who lack that augmentation irrelevant. 

Offering augmentation can create unique “must haves” that define new subcategories. The result can be strategic, proving a sustainable advantage in the future that will need to be nurtured through ongoing innovation and an aggressive branding strategy with supporting brand-building programs. Augmentation can also be defensive, responding to the innovation of competitors to keep the offering relevant. In either case the staff involved in creating and improving the offering—from R&D, design, manufacturing and marketing—will need to partner with the digital team.


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David Aaker is vice chairman of Prophet, the author of Aaker on Branding and a member of the Marketing Hall of Fame.