Coca Cola
Coca Cola Reuters

The chief marketing executive at Atlanta-based soft drink giant Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) said he believes online and mobile advertising is an effective driver of sales for the company, even if it can't be quantified with any currently available standard measures.

If we can't precisely measure it down to the CPM [or cost per 1,000 impressions] or using traditional methods of measurement, then at this point, so be it. Sometimes you have to take a little leap of faith, Joe Tripodi, the company's chief marketing executive, said in Cannes on Tuesday.

Tripodi said there needs to be some value assigned to people who click Like on the company's Facebook promotions, according to the Wall Street Journal, but he was fine with the fact it might take a year or two to arrive at an appropriate measure of that value.

If we can get 40 million-plus fans or even some subset of them talking positively about the things we're doing, ultimately that's a good thing for us, he said. I think it's probably a leading indicator of potential sales.

The comments by the marketing leader at one of the world's most influential -- and deep-pocketed -- advertisers marks something of a sea change in the way advertising executives are talking about the value of promoting their products through mobile and Web-based modules.

The conventional view in the industry is that more traditional media buys are meant to boost revenue, while online advertising campaigns are more focused on encouraging brand love.

At his speech in Cannes, France, Tripodi seemed to indicate the cleavage between those two assesments is no longer valid.

If you can turn people that love your brand from passive loyalists to advocates, you create a type of network advantage that means your brand will stay relevant, Tripodi said, according to MarketingWeek. We all know that losing relevance is the worst thing that can happen to your brand.

The marketing executive specifically defended using Facebook as a platform for engaging with a world where mob rules, as he termed it, saying this hysteria that I've seen lately [about the value of Facebook] -- I think it's very short-termist and not thinking about the long-term implications and the implications of engaging with people on that kind of platform.

It's not just about pushing stuff out as we've historically done, Tripodi said, according to AdWeek. It's about participating in discussions with people. We have to provide a narrative that people can engage with. We have to create experiences that perhaps are only had by a few but are compelling enough to fuel conversations with many.

Tripodi is in the south of France representing Coca-Cola at a festival and awards ceremony meant to recognize creative advertising. Among the publicity campaigns Coca-Cola is nominated for are a campaign in Brazil that tried to connect with teenagers by dispensing free smartphone data plan minutes from Coke-branded machines, a Google-led campaign that allowed people surfing the Web to buy the world a Coke by allowing the online purchase of sodas for people halfway around the world (and receive a thank-you message in reply) and campaigns in Hong Kong and London based around mobile apps.