Why it’s Time to Break Down the Barriers Between Brand and Performance

Reflection

In association with Teads.

Marketing efforts in recent years have tended towards the quantitative measure of performance. How many people could have seen the ad, how many people have clicked it, and how many people have bought a product after clicking the ad. However, this approach has somewhat led to the neglect of brand-building efforts, and the quality of interaction with brands beyond the simple click. In the post-GDPR landscape, this could leave many in the media landscape rather short-changed.

In this exclusive article for ExchangeWire, Guy Jackson (pictured below), regional director at Teads UK, discusses why marketing efforts should be transitioned towards the optimal fusion of quantitative and qualitative, performance and brand.

Brand versus performance; long-term uplift or short-term gain? As an industry, marketers and media folk love a distinction; we love to differentiate between the pros and cons of brand campaigns against more performance-led activity, often handled by different teams and aligned to different business objectives and imperfect KPIs.

But in an increasingly connected world, and at a time when omnichannel and holistic strategies are the order of the day, is this approach short-sighted? Are we being overly simplistic in our definitions, and executions, of brand and performance marketing? Surely everything a marketer does today (and arguably ever did) is benchmarked against ‘performance’ of one flavour or another.

Brands are ultimately trying to sell products and services, despite using different tactics to do so. After all, what is the point of building a brand if not ultimately to sell more?

Yes, a ‘brand’ might be just looking at a longer-term vision of how this will be achieved – but it’s all really just performance at heart, albeit over different time scales.

Guy Jackson Teads

Guy Jackson, regional director, Teads

Performance marketers would also do well to take a step back and see that measurement isn’t everything. We have become overly obsessed with it, and the metrics most of us use are flawed, linked to arbitrary measures of success rather than true business performance.

That has led suppliers into building products that cater towards these artificial measures of success, rather than ones linked to real business outcomes. And it’s led to many brands being more interested in achieving short-term performance at the expense of their long-term brand equity.

From reach and frequency to clicks, post-click conversion, post-view conversion; through to econometrics and attribution modelling, is there any wonder we’re confused? Add to that the struggles we still see with viewability, and the brand-lift studies that do not, or cannot, take into consideration purchases or word-of-mouth recommendation; we’re lost down a performance wormhole instead of concentrating on the fundamentals of marketing itself.

It’s why advanced advertisers must once again turn to the basics: because measurement only matters if you’re measuring the right thing.

Post-GDPR, as we move into a cookie-less world, those metrics above will become more meaningless still. Many experts predict that cookies will all but disappear within four years, but already (with changes to browsers such as Apple’s Safari) there are huge unmeasurable blind spots on the internet.

Instead, advertisers of all kinds should be measuring against quality-based metrics: think viewability, time-in-view, attention and landing page dwell time. MOAT, which is doing a lot of work around viewability, views “quality” as a measure of success.

‘Attention’ is becoming a valuable commodity in a world where content is more and more snackable, and there is ever more of it.

The quality of your ad matters. All successful advertising should be creatively compelling, though looking at some performance campaigns you’d be hard-pressed to know – for them the click, the conversion is everything.

Yet the inescapable truth is that neither brand nor performance activity should be conceived, planned or measured in isolation. That retargeting ad might have got you a sale, but retargeting activity is loathed by consumers who feel their privacy has been invaded, ultimately leading to negative brand connotations.

Think instead of brand and performance being on a spectrum: the best campaigns will carry an element of both. Nike’s “Dream Crazier” was ultimately a brand piece, aligning the company with its ethos of pushing boundaries, achieving greatness and doing what is right. No doubt it will live long in the minds of its audience. But consider this: online sales jumped a massive 31% over the subsequent Labor Day weekend – a great example of a brand campaign driving massive business performance.

With the fundamental goal of advertising – brand or performance – being to communicate a message, in the most effective way, to the highest number of people, surely there should be more focus on making these simply-measured outcomes better rather than putting so much emphasis on imperfectly chasing users to an imperfectly-tracked conversion.

Brands are increasingly looking at different measures of success to define performance, where quality of execution is fundamental to the way that advertising is measured rather than being overly focused on whether or not that user could be tracked all the way through to sale.

In an imperfect world of measurement we can’t hope for a perfect answer. Let’s make sure that our metrics are the right ones: that we are not harming long-term brand equity by chasing short term success, or building brand campaigns with no consideration of the performance picture.

Measurement matters, of course, but we forget at our peril that there’s more to marketing than measurement alone.