One thing hasn't changed since I started working in this industry over a decade ago: brand marketers still often look at performance marketers as if they are a crazy step-brother, locked in the basement for fear that he will get out and eat small animals. Yes, there is that part of the performance marketing industry that is a bit unsavory, filled with the gurus and the acne-faced kids who pretend to be elite hacker-wannabes on black hat forums – but there is a lot being developed in the industry that everyone needs to pay attention to, especially brand media buyers. So, without waste of time or resources, here is my concise guide to what brand media buyers can learn from performance marketers.
Provide hundreds of different versions of creatives. Yes, while Microsoft Word still doesn't believe me that "creatives" are a word, you should be using tons of them. So many media buyers still rely on a few versions of the same creative for some reason, limiting their ability to optimize. Performance marketers have become experts at creative optimization, often making hundreds of versions with slight differences for their media buys. Network buys, placement, color coordination, and even time of the day all can make a difference on how a creative performs.
Discover tools. Performance marketers are crazy about different tools for optimization, content creation, and development. One of the great things about the industry is that many of these tools are actually better than tools that cost 10 times as much made for brand media buyers. Some of these tools are actually free. An example is Tracking202, which is a free media buying PPC tool for affiliate marketers that tracks multiple media buys, multiple landing pages, and gives great reports.
Get people to interact immediately. Performance marketing is all about performance, the ROI, but brand marketing needs to embrace this more and more as a metric. While it might not be a product buy, there are metrics that can easily be created on all media buys. Whether it's a "learn more" newsletter sign-up button after a presentation or a search function for realtors that carries a product, brand marketers need to start always embracing performance. Interaction is part of the Internet, and it is proven over and over again that when someone does an action, any action, they are more likely to have positive feelings about a brand.
Ignore the press about what is "cool." I know that clients read everything about the industry, and hear that the newest cool social/mobile/video product is where it's at. All of these products will promise results, but the cost per user on most new applications is expensive and has little history or real return on its value. Jumping on the bandwagon, wasting the budget, and ignoring solutions that can show a real result is a growing problem in our industry. Yeah, it's cool now that people can post on their Facebook page that they just got a latte at Starbucks, but in a year when everyone is annoying each other and it's considered nothing more than spam, how will your brand think about that?
Pace Lattin has been working in interactive advertising since its inception. From being a co-owner of the company that sold advertising in ClickZ before the turn of the century to founding a major interactive advertising publication, he has been involved with all aspects of the interactive advertising industry. He is currently the executive director of the Executive Council of Performance Marketing, an industry organization that represents over 100 C-level executives.