By Tomasz Wnuk
Digital advertising represented the largest portion of ad spend for Middle East marketers in 2018 at 52 percent— and that number will only grow, according to the 2019 Middle East Report on Travel Advertising published by SOJERN. Whereas, two in three (61 percent) travel marketers plan to spend more on digital in 2019.
Each of these internet users has contact with thousands of ads daily. Hence, marketers’ biggest job is to be among those ads that are seen and somehow processed by the user’s mind. Furthermore, the report states that YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are the most utilized ad video platforms in the Middle East. Hence, travel marketers plan to use them in 2019 at 70 percent, 68 percent, and 68 percent respectively.
Marketers are aware that both branding and performance marketing are valuable and bring positive results. However, performance marketing is seen as the one resulting in company’s growth, and brand marketing is more of a long-term position building. Branding, which for so long was the key for marketing, is challenged by the performance tools, because the focus for marketers changed from reach to ROI. As a result, we are observing significant pivot towards measurable, short-term performance.
What is the difference? In general, we can say that branding stands for all the activities aimed to boost brand visibility, recognition and making customers loyal to the brand. In digital marketing for branding campaigns advertisers usually use static banners, that are designed to target the specific groups, based on social characteristics. Also, the placements are often chosen in advance, to reach the widest group. At the same time, it seems that performance is everything that branding isn’t. When people think about the performance marketing, they consider narrow target groups or even the ability to target the right person at the right place and time. Especially when it comes to achieving significant, measurable goals. Marketers are now able to plan and drive 1:1 marketing because sophisticated technology, data analysis and insights allow to see particular consumers when they are visiting a certain store and shopping for a particular item.
Retargeting – chance for hybrid approach
In general, retargeting campaigns used to be classified as pure performance marketing. The results are easily measurable and the creatives are full of products instead of branding. But is it impossible for retargeting to include branding visuals? Absolutely not! In fact, we observe that brands now more and more often choose the hybrid model which answers both short- and long-term goals. In our experience as a retargeting provider, we dealt with numerous clients and their various needs. Some were solely focused on the performance, with not a smallest input in terms of creatives look, and some came with branding strategy that is unchangeable and needs to be implemented into retargeting campaigns. This taught us that the balance is the key to reach the best results.
The effectiveness of the display creative is not only based on technology and advanced algorithms that allow marketers to personalize the advertising message and recommend offer tailored to users need. The consistency in marketing activities – including the advertiser’s brand book and the key visuals of particular campaign are also extremely important. Creatives prepared in such way are able to bring significant sales uplift and at the same time positively influence the brand’s perception.
To conclude, the one question advertisers are trying to find an answer to is: how to make marketing the most efficient? One possible answer could be – reconcile performance and branding. Nowadays, when media mix is becoming more and more driven by data, both performance and brand marketers should learn about each other’s goals and together work to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. It is crucial to plan the strategy and tools in the joint way. Breaking down the silos structure is the first and often most difficult step for brands. However, having your entire marketing team present when making planning decisions is critical to aligning behind common KPIs and ensuring there is an integrated strategy in place for success. Open-minded approach will enable teams to make a good use of each tools’ advantages in mixed-way. Either using branding elements in ‘performance retargeting campaign’ or using personalized approach and performance metrics in ‘branding campaigns’. Mixed tactics will drive better results for both sales and brand recognition.
Tomasz Wnuk is the General Manager Middle East and Africa at RTB House
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