Thursday, February 19, 2009

Performance Insider: Performance Marketing And Media Triage

Performance Marketing And Media Triage

PERFORMANCE MARKETING IS AN OPPORTUNISTIC creature. Show it unsold ad inventory and it will devour those ads and return warm leads at better ROI. But give performance marketing artificially high prices and it will turn its back and look elsewhere.

As the recession drags on, there's an outstanding opportunity for a range of online and offline media to align with the world of performance. But it is a triage world for those you who oversee media. You remember the triage concept from studying history. In WWI, the wounded were categorized into three groups:

  • Those who were likely to live, regardless of what care they received.
  • Those who were likely to die, regardless of what care they received.
  • Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.

    In wartime, doctors made the triage decision after a cursory look at too many patients. But in the cold war that is today's media market, each media player determines his own triage decision.

    Think of it this way: if you are in the fortunate position as a leading targeted site, your world is relatively peaceful. You sell sponsorships and display through upfronts and you generally sell out. Maybe you've had some pricing pressure in '09, but it is really just business as usual. You are likely to live no matter what care you receive. This might describe 5% of online media.

    Or perhaps your site is in an area like investing, where you've lost as much traffic and revenue as the markets have lost value. And maybe you've made the decision that your site is likely to die regardless of the care you receive. Another 5%.

    But the vast majority of online properties fall in between these two categories. And if you are neither walking in the park or one of the walking dead, you can choose to grow your business through the "immediate care" provided by performance marketing. Or you can choose to get better on your own. In a shrinking and deflationary environment, choosing the latter can be dangerous.

    Should you opt for immediate care, what are you deciding? To begin, you are making a decision to change the relationships with your visitors and readers. Performance ads provide value to users in a way that image ads don't.

    Perhaps the most important thing is deciding that you want incremental advertising, and that you're willing to get paid for it based upon results. Leading performance media companies generally have many open orders for leads. Increasingly, the successful players prefer to work with targeted media, emphasizing quality over quantity. This is in contrast to the low-end, high-volume offers that were the standard until the media meltdown.

    So what will the treatment be like once you've decided to work with incremental performance advertising? You'll find the remedies are not painful at all. You will be able to set many of the rules. For example, credible performance media companies will ensure that all the campaigns placed with you are incremental -- you can unilaterally say no to advertisers you already work with or any that are inappropriate.

    Further, the cure is testable. Because performance is true direct marketing, it makes sense to set standards, e.g. for eCPM. Then, analyze how well the performance ads yield what you've targeted. Regardless of outcome, you're in control of incremental revenue and well on your way to recovery.



  • Gary Kreissman is co-founder and president of Precision Prospects, Inc., a performance-based advertising firm.

    Performance Insider for Thursday, February 19, 2009:

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