TakeOwnership forSeparationOfBrandAndPerformance

Time to take ownership for the separation of brand and performance

First published on Campaign UK available here. 

One of my favourite quotes belongs to Marisa Thalberg of Lowe, who said: “We need to rebrand performance marketing; it implies everything else doesn’t work.”

Like many waking from another exceptional Media Week Awards night, I welcomed the comments from the ASOS chief executive José Antonio Ramos Calamonte around the unhealthy performance marketing dependency his business has developed.

The original partition of performance marketing was really a cultural one. Much media to that point was assessed after the event. Performance marketing allowed for cultures to be built in specialism and around the core craft of optimisation.
Whether in-house or with agency, we can’t keep talking about these activities as being distinct from other marketing efforts. Our industry created this separation, and we need to work harder to correct it.

For clients, performance marketing’s prominence was driven by its ability to assess commercial return instantly. Less understood was a truth that if you are focusing spend purely on conversion, then you are capitalising on the intent that has been created by others.
It was a new way of delivering media in the moment. But it was a complex profession, keeping pace with the AOLs, Yahoos and Googles of this world.

The time has come to move away from artificial distinctions of brand and performance and rather focus on the business of creating customers and converting customer intent in a truly integrated fashion.
Now we are in a world of high inflation and weakening consumer sentiment and we are seeing how dangerous this reliance has become.
That’s not to say in any sense this is foul play – but it does leave you dependent on demand being created by anything other than the marketing efforts of your own business.

The clients and agencies that are winning right now are doubling down on integrated answers that span the totality of the customer experience. No customer casts judgment on a brand in silos, so our thinking cannot be restricted by the ones we’ve created.

Performance marketers start with strategies to innovate later comes the deployment of spend.
One, the mindset. Performance marketing isn’t about the spend, it’s about unlocking maximum effect no matter what you spend or when.
However, there are two things performance marketing offers that we should forever cherish. 

Two, nurturing specialist expertise. All media is converging in a place where it can be optimised. So we need constantly to nurture specialists who can pull levers through the depth of a media channel and work harder to connect them to a greater integrated goal.

What does that mean for the performance marketing agency? I used to run a pretty big one and I believe these incredible businesses act as a brilliant check and balance for us all. If we cannot continue to supply specialist expertise in an integrated model, then these agencies are here to do so.

We think about the brand as the sum total of every customer experience. We think about how to activate audiences no matter if we’re trying to illicit an immediate or latent response through that performance mindset, thus pulling every lever no matter the medium.
But there is a ceiling to that model and that is why we took iProspect away from being a provider of performance marketing and into the world of integrated media.

Let’s move away from brand and performance. 
You cannot do this through a traditional, siloed approach to performance marketing. There will always be long term and short term, tactical and strategic, creation and conversion.

James Bailey, UK CEO of iProspect.