Our agency has often been pigeon holed into being a performance based or direct response agency. For the most part this has been due to the opportunity in the market.
The first advertisers to embrace Google Search were generally companies looking for a direct response or action on their advertising. The same was true when Remarketing first opened up.
Following this, we’ve been part of the pioneering agencies in Social Advertising that has been dominated by the world of Insta-famous eCommerce brands over the last few years.
All begin by advertisers flooding to deliver a return on their ad spend.
Yet, during 2017 we noticed a trend that come to full life in 2018. And now 3 months down in 2019, this is not a trend, it simply is the state of play.
Brands Be Aware
The new reality of digital advertising is that brands must be active full funnel in order to succeed. The commentators who have preached that there really is no such thing as ‘digital’ have kind of always been right. Kind of, in the sense that the behaviours underpinning the shift to digital & mobile are a fundamental pivot. However, they are right in the sense that:
the fundamentals of marketing & advertising remain the same, no matter what the channel.
There has been an arbitrage window as discussed here Digital Advertising Q1 2019 update , where agencies and advertisers have been able to grow
brands sales playing only at the bottom of the funnel, through manual optimising better than others via direct response tactics and techniques.
I believe 2019, is the year those commentators will start pulling out their old tweets to show how clever they are. It will be the year of the humble brag from out of date agencies using 20th century techniques, shock-jock conference speakers and those who never really understood what was happening.
But I do believe 2019, is the year that advertisers who only wish to play in bottom of the funnel channels are going to witness a declining return on ad spend. For some categories this has already taken place, for a while it was thought:
All good, I’ll simply work out my lifetime customer value then I can afford to lose money on first sale
That may be true. But when you have a rising cost to achieve the first sale, you continue to erode your marketing spend. And as you will see, the biggest recommendation I have for 2019 is finding the ability to release marketing spend to build your brand, to make potential buyers aware before they are ready to buy.
I believe 2019, will be the year that the top end of town pay attention to their investment in channels traditionally considered ‘digital’, it won’t be due to bottom of the funnel results either it will be the fundamental ability to deliver effective reach & frequency to target audiences. But this flood of digital top of funnel investment, is actually going to hurt everyone’s bottom of the funnel performance.
With Facebook & YouTube offering direct buys through insertion orders hidden from the sight of the client. They finally have a way of monetising digital channels without having to do any more work. Facebook in particular is hammering their TRP buy options. Dumbing down the entire power of the platform to simply
speak the cave person media buyers language of we Reach platform, we give Incremental Reach, you touch 1 button
On the other end, direct to consumer brands and longer term SMEs that have been using digital purely through direct response are starting to test small budgets, (we recommend 20% as min.) for top of funnel Brand Awareness & Prospecting Campaigns.
They are the ones who are willing to adjust their story arcs in video assets, the ones who jump first on new placements like Stories and True View For Action. They are the ones who reject bloated publisher buys.
Because here is the real truth, those who understand how the platforms work at the bottom of the funnel. Are those who are destined to win at the top of funnel.
The platforms may be getting easier to use, by dumbing down their language but as our holy marketing commentators continue to tell us, there’s no such thing as digital, there is only marketing & advertising.
And that’s true, an impression has always been a lazy way to measure the impact of a brand. Those with intimate knowledge of the platforms, understand how to get the most out of all campaigns at all stages of the funnel.
They understand when to choose Video Views vs Brand Awareness vs Reach vs a View Content Conversion.
So while the budgets are coming from big brands which are going to impact the cost of channels, which in my view are going to hurt the bottom of the funnel campaigns the most.
There remains the opportunity for savvy marketing managers and business owners to Become Aware of the huge potential at the top of the funnel.
Here are 3 things you can do tomorrow:
- Add 20% off your digital budget to Top of Funnel for the next 90 days
- Use Google Analytics > In Market & Affinity Reports & Facebook Audience Insights to identify top of funnel targeting opportunities
- Create an Online Goal for when a potential buyer becomes aware of your brand (move beyond impressions only)