No matter what you might think of the display industry and whether it is, or is not, effective when it comes to direct acquisition, there is one thing you cannot deny - it's done a fantastic job in selling itself.
Much of the display sector is still based on a CPM model that rarely stacks up to other more cost effective channels such as affiliate and search when comparing on CPA metrics. No matter say the display experts; we would rather base our ROI on brand metrics rather than sales. Any other discipline might run the risk of being challenged on this front, but display has done such a wonderful job of engraining itself on the CMO agenda that it has positioned itself to be the channel that drives awareness and engagement rather than tangible sales.
The emergence of huge players such as Facebook has only served to increase its allure and further validate the model in the minds of marketers, despite not having the data to justify its swagger. And this is where my frustration lies, because performance marketing does the same job as display in terms of driving awareness and engagement with a brand, often for free. Not only that, as an additional benefit to our delivery as a marketing discipline we are also experts in closing a sale! Performance can prove its value time and time again, with actual real data, yet we're not held in anywhere near the same esteem as our counterparts over in the display sector.
Performance Industry is Too Modest
So, why do we find ourselves in this position? Undeniably we are hiding our light under a bushel, but why? I think as a sector we tend to be far too modest, we tend to keep ourselves to ourselves only sharing our triumphs within our community rather than thinking about the wider sphere of people we should be informing about just how blooming marvellous we are. I think the events we do as an industry, such as the Expo and Awards, are great but effectively we’re telling each other how great we are when we need to be telling the broader market. There is far too much navel gazing going on.
Alongside this we've recognised that advertisers often find performance marketing complicated and hard to explain to their wider marketing teams, but we've not sought to rectify the situation. In fact, I think we as performance marketers ourselves often find it difficult to articulate the complexity of our roles. How many of us have been asked what you do for a living and found it easier to say "digital marketing" only to be met with the reply "oh do you do banners?" You see, display has even done a job on non-marketers!!
We can either shrug our shoulders and say this is the way it is, or we can do something about it. I'm all for the latter option as I want our sector to grow, not just in terms of size but also its industry standing. And to do that we need to market ourselves with gusto, just as we do for advertisers and just like the display sector has done so successfully.