Digital Media

Performance Media at Scale – The Keys to Success

Amanda Currie is Senior Vice President at Adconion Direct, a leading digital distribution platform spanning digital, email, social media and mobile. Amanda was co-founder and Vice President at Frontline Direct, a leading database management and customer acquisition firm, which was acquired by Adconion Media Group in 2008. 

Over the last 10 years, running a digital start up and being acquired by a large multi-channel global media firm, I’ve had the opportunity to work directly with many Fortune 1000 brands and fast growing startups on how they can create online customer acquisition programs on a pay for performance basis. Performance media at scale is the holy grail of digital advertising, and it requires partnership, insight, strategy, and execution to be successful.

Performance marketing is paying a fixed dollar amount per action. Google is the classic example of performance marketing on a cost per click basis. As the paid search market becomes higher in terms of price, many advertisers are seeking other performance marketing avenues, including display, social, email, and mobile media, all of which Adconion Direct offers.

Understanding the Performance Media Market: Performance marketing, regardless of channel, is extremely competitive as this is an area that brands want to spend heavily on. You have to take into account you need the campaign to perform not only to convert for you, but to convert for your publishers.

Partnership Mindset: In performance marketing, your publisher is truly your partner and there is a natural alignment – they are only compensated on actions, so they want to ensure they use media, messaging, and testing strategies that will encourage action.

Pick the right publisher partner. Have they been successful and a proven track record?  Do they work with other brands and understand the needs of your brand? Do they have an emphasis on compliance and best practice and brand safety?  Do they have significant distribution where if you are successful, they possess the reach and ability to scale?

It should be your goal to have a partner that has had the opportunity to help thousands of advertisers launch performance insights, so they will be able to offer extremely valuable insights, recommendations, and strategies.  If you are working with a great digital media firm that understands performance marketing and is able to scale, they have the opportunity to be an incredible asset to your brand and allow significantly scale your business while reaching or even lowering your target new per customer cost.

Create an Environment for Success: As online performance media is extremely competitive, the more conservatively you test your media in terms of pricing, price type, creative, media and consumer offering, the less likely you are to be successful, as other campaigns will outperform yours and you will not be able to access inventory. Your publisher understands the marketing and the inventory – give them as much as you can in terms of what they ask for – including creative, re-targeting pixels etc. Additionally, be aggressive with your product and campaign. Your best chance of success is to create a very compelling, competitive offering for both the consumer and publisher. You can always set budgets to review quality and ROI, and then optimize as you scale.  If you launch too conservatively, you will have a low chance of success, losing valuable time, learnings, and inventory opportunity, and in many cases, after testing campaigns that show very low performance, publishers will not continue testing your campaign.

Test, Test, Test!!!:  The performance matra is:  Launch, Learn and Scale.  Allow partners to use broad audiences if they elect.  The narrower the target demographic, the more you can except to pay for media.  Allow partners to cast a wide net to see what audiences and media types to see what performs. Typically, you and the partner will acquire much more learning when casting a wide net, see which audience segments subsequently respond and convert, then continue to optimize.

Do not micro-manage your performance media partners – if they are good at what they do, they will understand what it takes to be successful, and if they are not, they will be able to tell you why and provide strategies for optimization. You are always able to mitigate risk by setting specific parameters and budgets.

Create Compelling Offer for the Consumer: In performance, it is key to drive the conversion (or payable action), and the best way to do this is to create a compelling offer and offer consumer incentives. A classic example is offering a free cell phone for having a long term contract with a wireless carrier.

Creative & Landing Page: Drive the Click. Drive the Action.Have a Clear Call to Action.Benefit Oriented. Simple Form. Instant Action for the Consumer. Use simple and easy to convert forms and processes, without a huge amount of data required. The larger the amount of data required and less compelling the action, the more you can expect to pay in terms of media and the overall less access to media you will have. Cost per sale / revenue share campaign are typically much harder to scale or access media.  Consider pricing on a cost per lead or cost per click basis.

Summary: How do you create an effective performance marketing program? Pick the right partner and have a partnership mentality, set yourself up for success at the outset, be open in terms of strategy, media (ie display, social, email, mobile) and pricing (CPC, CPL) as you are entering a marketplace,  create a compelling, benefit and value-oriented offer for the consumer, and use creative landing pages, and messaging that support this. Test, test, test!  Launch, Learn, and Scale!