• Advertising

Performance Marketing vs Brand Marketing: How to Balance the Two on Mobile

Matt Kaplan
Content Strategist
5 min read
Posted on July 15, 2019

It's not performance marketing vs. brand marketing. It's brand marketing + performance marketing.

In the world of mobile advertising, it’s historically been seen as performance marketing vs. brand marketing, with both camps as polar opposites of one another. They may both be marketing, but they function totally independently, with little regard to what the other team is up to.

But is this really the best approach? Are performance and brand marketing really diametrically opposed? In today’s always-on environment, cross-device environment, the difference isn’t nearly as clear cut as it once was. Instead, marketing teams are much better off having brand and performance marketing work in tandem with one another to drive overall business goals.

How Does Your Target Audience Actually Buy Today?

The funnel model of marketing is one of the oldest. The goal is to initially hook as many people as possible and then try to slowly but surely push them into becoming loyal customers, with the idea that lots of people will drop off over time. This model presupposes a linear buying model, in which potential customers take very specific, known steps before making a purchase.

But is this model actually correct? Is this really how people buy? Not quite.

For example, consider Google’s report into how a prospective car buyer gathers the information she needs to procure a new automobile. Over the course of three months, she conducts almost 140 Google searches, along with countless video views, image views and dealer and manufacturer interactions. At what point is she clearly at the top or the bottom of the funnel? It’s often hard to say.

This experiment highlights the fractured nature of buying today. Sometimes, all it takes is one push for someone to become a customer. Other times, hundreds or even thousands of nudges over months or years may be required. In this kind of environment, it’s incredibly hard to distinguish between what’s solely a “brand” play versus what functions as a performance push.

The Short-Term and Long-Term Function of Brand Awareness in Today’s Always-On Environment

In this fractured, always-on environment where consumers dictate buying cycles on their own terms, it can be tempting for marketers to focus exclusively on the performance side. If any marketing effort can potentially lead to new business, then why not focus all efforts just on bottom-line actions? After all, it’s much easier for a marketer to justify performance ad spending over just brand awareness spending.

Alas, if only it were that simple. The truth of the matter, however, is that performance marketing is much more difficult to accomplish when no one has heard of your brand.

“[T]he opposite of performance marketing is not brand marketing: it is non-performance marketing,” Eric Seufert wrote in Mobile Dev Memo. “Brand marketing can be woven into a performance marketing strategy in a way that preserves the measurability and immediacy of mobile: in fact, the best marketing teams use brand building to make their direct response campaigns more efficient.”

For example, let’s say you’re an upstart coffee chain that has just entered the market. You certainly could run a massive performance campaign, but why would someone download your app if they’ve never heard of you?

Brand marketing helps to grease the wheels, providing much-needed awareness and initial traction to power future performance campaigns. As James Peng, Head of Performance Marketing at Coinbase, noted during MAU 2019, this is how popular cryptocurrency app approaches user acquisition.

“You shouldn’t go play ball without a good brand strategy,” James said. “Don’t just start throwing banners up everywhere without coordinating brand strategy with performance strategy. Start with brand strategy to make people aware of your brand, then leverage product marketing to push people down the funnel then use Programmatic to go in for the kill.”

As Harvard Business Review has noted, the better approach is to take a customer-out viewpoint. What do your target customers want, and how can you help them see the value of your products and/or services? This is how today’s brands succeed, and this path of marketing success today involves brand and performance marketing working in tandem with one another on this unified goal.

Want to get started on your own next advanced performance app marketing campaign? Be sure to schedule a free demo of InMobi DSP today.

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About the Author

Matthew Kaplan has over a decade of digital marketing experience, working to support the content goals of the world’s biggest B2B and B2C brands. He is a passionate app user and evangelist, working to support diverse marketing campaigns across devices.

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