Road to 2020: Points to be kept in mind to plan performance marketing campaigns

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Kosal Malladi Performance Marketing Trends

Kosal Malladi from Madison Media Digital shares some crucial points to keep in mind while chalking out a plan for a performance marketing campaign on the road to 2020.

Branding and Performance are two sides of the same coin. Or are they? This was a crucial question when we started making our plans for 2020. As the discussion intensified, deeper questions started popping up.

“What is performance marketing according to you?” we debated.

“It is about getting the best ROI,” said one.

“It is about leads that deliver the best Life Time Value,” said


This discussion went on for a while. An hour later, as I walked out

of the meeting, my email pinged. It was a request for an article talking about

my views on performance marketing in 2020.

“Wow,” I thought, “All I need to do is rephrase the minutes of our


So, without wasting any more time in the build-up, let us get down to business. Here are 7 points we need to keep in mind if we are to plan an effective performance marketing campaign in 2020:

It is not about the lowest

cost per action

Lowest CPL or CPC is not an indication of an effective performance campaign. Multiple other parameters need to be tracked. For example, if we are running a campaign whose objective is to drive visits to a website, we need to track click to visit ratio, time spent on the site, bounce rate, etc. Frankly, this is not a discussion for 2020. This was possibly a discussion for 2010. However, with more and more advertisers entering the Digital space today, it is best to reemphasize this point.

Brand building vs Performance Campaigns- defining their roles

This one is a favorite question. What role does a brand campaign have if the end result is leads or sales? In order to answer this, there is one thing we all need to understand. If we are to set up a performance campaign, the platform, be it Google or Facebook optimizes it to reach out to users who are most likely to convert.

This creates an echo chamber of sorts. People who have not shown a propensity towards the category in the past are unlikely to be exposed to the ad. For example- A BFSI brand was struggling to get leads in a certain market. An analysis of the performance campaign showed that the campaign was only reaching out to 10% of the market base. So we set up a parallel brand-building campaign focused on reaching at least 80% of the market. Within 2 weeks, the search volume for the brand showed a spike in the market, thereby helping push more leads.

Attribution plays a key

role in driving ROI

The above example clearly shows that brand-building campaigns help in improving performance campaigns. A certain percentage of success of the performance campaign can be attributed to brand building. However, there is a lot more.

Today, mediums are fluid. People do not distinguish if they see an ad on TV or print or digital. So why would they care if they buy the product online or at the store? However, we marketers still make the mistake of evaluating the performance of a digital campaign through its online sales only.

Looking at the numbers- a recently run Digital campaign for an FMCG major led to a 40% increase in sales at offline stores. This campaign was touted as a major success for the brand. If the brand had only focused on the sales in its e-commerce store, it would have passed off the campaign as a failure.

We will only be able to arrive at such detailing if we invest in attribution modelling. This definitely is the need of the hour.

ML and AI are the future,

but human intervention is crucial

As Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are catching up, it is important for bidding engines to get CRM data in order to self-optimize the campaigns. However, human intervention still plays a key role.

Let me give an example.

A consumer durables brand was using ML in order to drive leads. The campaign was running efficiently delivering the most relevant leads. However, the call centre within two markets was struggling to call the leads as they were facing a manpower crunch. This was leading to 70% of the leads within those markets going unattended. The situation had to be salvaged by manual intervention.

The above is just one example of a situation. As AI evolves to give solutions, so will the situations. Manual intervention will eventually go down, but will always be needed to an extent.

Also read: Road to 2020: Influencer Marketing Trends brands need to watch out for

Ad Fraud is real. We need

to mitigate it.

Back in 2011, we had noticed that 60% of website visits for one of our auto clients were coming from Argentina. The vehicle was most definitely not plying on the roads of Argentina! So we investigated. We got to know that one of the partners running the campaign was comfortably running it in Argentina because they were unable to deliver website traffic from India. This was Ad Fraud 101, 9 years ago.

Today, we have evolved. We have bots doing the frauds. As per a recent report, India accounted for 8.7% of the global ad fraud. It is extremely essential for us to invest in tools that help detect ad fraud. Would it be possible to stop ad fraud? Not in the near future. But it is definitely possible to minimize it.

Selling in the world of

Google Search and Amazon Search

Google Search has traditionally been the medium to advertise in, in

order to drive performance. However, Amazon has recently started emerging as

the next big Digital medium for advertising. And with the Amazon DSP soon

launching in India, this is only set to grow.

So are there any thumb rules for brands to follow. It depends on the type of Industry. For an eCommerce player, advertising on Google Search becomes mandatory. However, an FMCG should focus its direct ROI campaigns on Amazon.

But does that mean that Google Search is not important for FMCG? That is not the case. Google Search is equally important, however, the role is not direct ROI. The role is to gather data intelligence.

Walled Gardens need to be


That brings us to data. Why is data important? The answer to this is

a no brainer. Data helps in building intelligence about users who interact with

the brand, thereby helping the brand build better marketing plans. But today,

the data rests within the walled gardens of Google or Facebook. And now Amazon

and Hotstar are emerging as the other walled gardens. This a crucial trend that

we need to note.

Hence it is extremely crucial for brands to invest in their own data management platforms. This will help build a market place that will eventually lead to data homogenization. While this might seem like a heavy investment in the short term, it will lead long term gains.

Getting the above 7 mantras right should ideally help your performance marketing campaigns have a smooth ride through 2020.

This article piece is authored by Kosal Malladi, General Manager, Madison Media Digital.

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