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Industry forum: Has digital marketing struck the right balance between performance and awareness?

We asked: Has digital marketing struck the right balance between performance and awareness?

Diana Safaryan

Senior associate and feed specialist, Merkle


Many businesses find it difficult to focus on the long-term value of branding when there are short-term KPIs that need to be met, and rightly so. As performance marketing becomes more data-driven, advertisers can reach their ‘in-market’ audiences in a more sophisticated and efficient way. However, with industry changes on user privacy,

it’s now more important than ever that marketers take a step back and ensure that upper-funnel activity is not overlooked.

Targeting broader audiences, establishing soft goals, implementing multi-touch attribution and utilising automated bidding can ensure that advertisers continue to sensibly broaden their reach through awareness whilst still maximising performance.

Mazen Mansour

Digital manager, Initiative Media


Definitely not. Most digital marketers will always be hesitant to switch off an ad that is delivering short-term performance. This will probably apply even if an ad is not in line with brand guidelines.

We are all hooked on short-term gains because they are measurable and easier to justify.

However, this approach is not sustainable. Why? Because it is easily forgotten and does not give brands the chance to foster an emotional connection with the audience. This requires long-term brand building, which will ultimately drive growth and therefore long-term profits.

As an industry, we need to stop over-investing in performance ads and get better at proving the value of brand and therefore go beyond measuring performance on a last-click basis but sway to alternatives such as multi-touch attribution and marketing-mix modelling.

Jack Cooper

Senior marketing manager, media, MEAI, Huawei Mobile Services


We’ve seen in the last decade the growing dominance of digital as the medium where the masses devote most of their time and attention. In tandem, with the growing abundance of data, digital marketing has become exponentially more data-driven. As a consequence, many marketers have opted to focus on performance metrics driving rigid business KPIs, increasingly neglecting attention towards continuous brand-building.

Digital marketing has always been regarded as performance-focused, but it can be argued that even awareness objectives are now best achieved through this medium due to the myriad of branding opportunities available, combined with efficient scalability and targeting precision.

Marketers should, of course, also be paying attention to the convergence of digital technology on traditional channels (CTV, DOOH, etc.) and adapting to the constantly evolving landscape.

Prasad Sawant

Performance media manager, Magna


Digital marketing is the only channel that has struck the right balance owing to its capability of an end-to-end funnel-planning approach and use of martech tools.

Triggered by the Covid-19 impact, marketers have naturally resorted to performance marketing as it is easier to sign off budgets that promise immediate gain. However, this is not the right approach as we will target a limited pool of audiences and there is no prospect of growth.

For brands to grow, they need to look beyond a small pool of in-market audiences and widen their reach to the right potential audiences.

Whether this is done via lookalike or predictive modelling, it is essential to have one overall business objective instead of treating performance and awareness in silos. This, therefore, calls for better measurement by giving credit to media touchpoints that don’t generate immediate conversions using multi-touchpoint attribution.

Julien El Anati

Regional video lead, DMS


In today’s climate, brands have developed an obsession with performance marketing, leaving branding in the back seat and disregarding the ramifications of prioritising one strategy over another. According to McKinsey, we have entered into “an era of performance-everything”. At DMS we know that while some partners have become masters of one, very few excel at employing both approaches simultaneously. Let’s look at the impact of video, a format designed to maximise awareness about products or services. Would it serve its purpose better in a premium, brand-safe and contextually relevant video-on-demand environment, or when made skippable on a user-generated content platform (social or mobile)? While  85 per cent of marketers believe that accurate marketing ROI measurement involves a short-term and long-term focus, only  52 per cent of advertisers believe they’ve achieved this balance. Brand marketing and performance marketing are becoming increasingly interdependent in a world where personalisation and relationships with consumers are of paramount importance.

However, one has to admit that awareness helps to grease the wheels, providing much-needed initial traction to power future performance campaigns.

Sara Addam

B2B marketing, TikTok For Business METAP


Let’s #TBT (that’s Throwback Thursday for non-hashtag-savvy peeps) and look at what traditional marketing brought to the table. Iconic highway landmarks, TV commercials that a lot of us performed, prints that made waiting rooms more bearable, and phone texts that reminded us that hey, if they’re not thinking about you, we are. But that’s it. Big impact (in theory, because who can confirm?), small interaction.

Insert digital. Where you see it, you want it, you get it. Or in other words, awareness, engagement, performance. Digital marketing attracts the end-user because they see what they want to see, and delights advertisers because, well, the end-user is reacting. It’s no longer a one-way conversation.

The battle to stay relevant won’t dissipate over time, and traditional is, well, so Throwback Thursday.

Polly Williams

Managing director, TishTash Talks


Digital marketing can strike the balance between performance and awareness.

An omni-channel approach to digital is the only way and, in our experience, it is rare to find brands that are working across the right combination.

For example, prioritising search-engine optimisation will limit success if you are not also investing in pay-per-click to drive more enquiries and re-market to those who have abandoned their carts. Without spending time and money identifying the complementary channels, the balance between performance and awareness cannot be struck, and we find that brands are often not ready to invest in the full mix.