Creating a Competitive Advantage through Performance Marketing

It would be great if marketers had a giant pause button they could press in order to contemplate the dramatic behavioral shifts that have occurred with their customers, along with the constant evolution of technology. Well that button doesn’t exist. And we barely have time to read the decks, posts, tweets, books, articles, e-books, surveys, or watch the videos that are supposed to “guide” us. The truth is we have even more ways to reach our customers and even more data available to learn about them. And the excitement will continue as the “outside” world becomes even more digital.

What we have less of is time to make decisions. If at the end of the day our job is to connect brands with customers and make money, where should we invest our time? The answer is simple, we should always have an approach to test ways that we can create/innovate a true competitive advantage and add more revenue to the bottom line.

Through these tests we’re striving to generate incremental gains wherever possible. In some cases, our Performance Marketing practice has seen these gains fuel triple-digit revenue growth for our clients. Now the trick is to test and find new battlegrounds and not rely on “industry best practice” because then you’re just competing for share of voice – you want to own the conversation.

Here are 3 areas that we are currently testing against to drive a competitive advantage for our clients:

1. Not waiting for the year of mobile, winning now
2. Leveraging your data in new ways to drive revenue
3. Developing non-standard advertising opportunities

Not waiting for the year of mobile, winning now

91+ million US Consumer access the Internet through mobile devices (eMarketer 8/1/11) and in January 2011 22% of US mobile owners used search on their phone. These numbers continue to rise in both volume and frequency. In fact 1 out of every 5 people who search on a mobile phone do so daily (comScore 7/20/11). Advertising opportunities on mobile devices have been available for some time, but because mobile owners are using their devices in evolving and divergent ways, we have a new opportunity. We can now use location and intent as signals for context.

One strategy we recently helped a client deploy involved dominating the mobile search engine results page for a major holiday weekend. This was done in a very tight geographic area and leveraged click to call to divert calls from competitors. This micro targeting approach can be replicated en masse and enables marketers to create potentially new sales channels. This is really just the tip of the iceberg; the bottom line is that you couldn’t even deploy this tactic 2 years ago.

Leveraging your data in new ways to drive revenue

In the past 5 years, I’ve been asked the question “how can I monetize XYZ?” dozens of times. The XYZ has ranged from my site to the package I send to my customers. Often times, we’ve developed solid strategies, but for some reason or another implementation gets stalled due to complexity. But technical advancements in the infrastructure that powers the Internet now enable us to easily “turn on” monetization strategies. This means it is now realistic for brands to expand their product offering and revenue opportunity.

Most of these innovations revolve around “access” to unique audiences through the data that brand’s openly collect about their customers. In market examples range from online travel agents selling flight search data in data exchanges, ecommerce companies selling targeted ads based on shopper behavior, to publishers like Forbes offering unique combinations of audience data and content to deliver rich off site experiences. But these opportunities can expand beyond advertising and also beyond digital banners. Businesses can use this data to understand which products they should promote or create for their audiences.

Developing non-standard advertising opportunities

Today’s digital advertising landscape is very much a standardized and uninspiring canvas. It was built for scale and because of that we need to deliver a high frequency of ads and we often have to deal with banner blindness. Now, it is true that behavioral advertising and the influx of data enable us to better target advertising; increasing the probability of impact. And yes, we can develop richer experiences that drive deeper engagement. Still, it is the job of a performance marketer to uncover new and inventive ways to augment their data driven approach.

We can’t just rely on buying large audiences at scale to target a banner ad. The idea is to pinpoint key decision points in the customer journey and then work with partners to develop nontraditional placements/strategies and experiences that have the greatest likelihood of success. Just because a publisher or partner has developed a standard offering doesn’t mean that you can’t work with them to create a custom experience that a brand can “own.”

We’ve used this approach with much success to enable our clients to dominate where they can stand to win. This tactic while extremely efficient is often times more difficult to scale – but the concept you develop can be potentially replicated with similar partners. The key is to get in early and dominate before your unique approach becomes a “best practice.”

These 3 areas are very much “of the moment” and they are just some of the ways that we look to apply the rigor of Performance Marketing to help our clients gain a competitive advantage. Until we get that giant pause button it’s important to make sure that your strategy is iterative and that you constantly test opportunities that enable you to constantly evolve what drives revenue and success.

Sean Muzzy is Senior Partner, Managing Director for Neo@Ogilvy in New York City.

An innovative and creative marketer, Sean oversees Neo@Ogilvy in North America. He is a member of Ogilvy's global digital council and WPP's Digital Advisory Board. As part of the senior digital leadership team at Ogilvy, he collaborates with creative and marketing strategy to develop strategies that activate brands and deliver business results.

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Posted in Mobile Marketing, The Future of Selling

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