PARADOX – Performance OR Branding

When I reached Chapter 2 of the best seller, “The Zen Leader” by Dr. Ginny Whitelaw, enlightenment stroke me related to a constant dilemma we have dealing with marketing in general:




Without getting too much involved, explaining the concept behind a Zen leader I will tell you what I learned from Chapter 2.


The problem we have in general dealing with issues, whether it is personal or if it is related to business, is that we want to take a “this OR that” decision.


Our brains are programmed to take a firm stand.


Safe OR Fast

High Profits OR sustainable

Kids in a private school OR public School

Politics? left OR right

Design OR functionality

APP OR Mobile Browser


We sort of get blinded because we need to frame things nicely in one simple picture. It makes us feel safe in decision making that rationally sort of makes sense. Therefore, we are programmed to decide on “this OR that”.


The problem of getting stuck into this Paradox is that we miss the whole picture and we do not get the adequate result. On top the world today is to fast moving to make this OR that decision. That might have worked in the old times but we need to take one step further.


By changing our way of thinking, adding an AND to the paradox instead of OR a whole new spectrum arises and there is space for innovation that creates real and relevant RESULTS. The AND could be an adaptation tool of today’s society where innovation happen fast.


This Paradox has been a problem for online marketers for a long time as well and with tracking and analytics tools things even got more complex.


I have had numerous conversations with CMOs in large companies that said. “Listen, I love your technology but all I am willing to pay is 12 euros for a person to sign up for our Language course. Anything else is not relevant”. I have had Banks telling me that they are happy to pay 200 euros for a person that opens up a new bank account. If you spend 250 euros it’s a failure. It’s a Result OR nothing.


I would say that it’s pretty tough to work in this environment. Do you agree? Creating magic in order to please people in putting things in their “box”.


I have seen many companies dividing their marketing departments in two areas, a department being responsible for performance campaigns, and another department being responsible for branding campaigns. 


There are also large Agency Media Networks that have divisions and even companies that are specialists in performance while others in Branding.


After becoming a Zen Master I have clearly understood that the complex world that we live in needs a different way of thinking. It should not be performance OR branding. It must be performance AND branding. In other words lets change the terms from;


This OR That




This AND That


To begin if we give our minds (with minds I don’t relate to unconscious thoughts in our heads that we believe is real) the opportunity to STOP for a while and try to see issues from a different angle, we might not freak out on phrases such as:


-“Mobile first”

-“Retargeting or DSP 1st party Targeting”

-“Your company needs to open an Facebook account or your nephews whole generation will laugh at you”

-“12 euros per register or you should fire your chief of marketing”

-This is a good one; “TV is dead” (by the way what is the definition of TV these days???)


First of all when any CMO reads these strong statements, I strongly recommend them all to initially to sit back, drink some nice ginger & herbal tea and just relax.


There are important elements to consider.


First of all, the opportunities and threats of any business have always been there. It’s nothing new. Its pretty clear to me that Internet has changed the way we today understand advertising, but even if the world moves in a faster pace than ever, things do not happen over night.


Again, CMOs just relax.


Secondly, make sure to avoid getting blinded in having to take a side on things. Mobile OR Web?


Branding OR Performance?


Let me give a very concrete example of how branding AND performance is very related.


Some very clever guy moderating a debate on RTB asked the audience in the room the following question:


“……anyone of you guys ever click on banners? Yes, the banners that appears on a web site either on the top, on the sides or somewhere in the middle!”


Not too many raised their hand.


“……does anyone click on a banner, go to a landing page, and finish a purchasing process by willingly handing out your credit card details?”


No one raises the hand.


Does this mean that exposure of a brand with commercial information does not work? Are we insane to invest in this? Is this a “the king is naked” syndrome?


Last year Billions and Billions of Ads were served in a complex advertising ecosystem and no one raised their hands!!


How many of you own a smartphone?


Everyone raises the hand. (The last question was just to see if the audience was awake).


Lets take an example on how a banner will influence on result.


It’s Sunday and Bill is reading the news from his old Samsung version 4. He is happy and relaxed. Life is great. Suddenly there is a banner shown up that is made in html5 showing the latest version of Samsung Galaxy, The S6!  The html5 ad allows a rotating effect when Bill moves his smartphone, with a text appearing saying; “open a bank account with us and we will finance you this new Samsung”. Bill for a moment gave the bank ad his attention.


No click, no purchase, and no action what so ever was taken!


As always in advertising, right?


One week later, Bills wife Jill comes home with a great idea. “Honey, Mike is turning 12 year and I was thinking that it would be great to give him bigger responsibilities. Why don’t we open up an account to Mike so he can get his allowance as usual, but with an account where he freely can cash out money and also purchase online. It will make him feel more adult and responsible.”


Bill, the one that never clicks on banners suddenly gets busy. He starts by saying; “Jill what a great idea!!” Then he rushes to his Pad and he thinks. “What bank was it that offered a Galaxy S6 when opening up a bank account?? I think that it was a bank with a red logo. Lets make a search online!” Bill types in; Open a bank account galaxy offering. The result is ON THE TOP. Open a bank account with us today and we finance a Samsung Galaxy. A click is made and he sees an offer with a logo in blue and with a Samsung Galaxy 5 offering. NOT Galaxy S6!? Its an offering that finances the phone but with some interest rates. It’s also a bank that he never had seen before. No trust for this brand so he goes back to the search page and looks in the list of organic search results. He finds a link with a similar offer and there it is. The same offering that he saw a week ago!! BINGO!!


So how is this measured in a Result perspective? If Bill proceeds with the bank registration, usually a conversion pixel is placed on the “thank you page”. Therefore the last click will be awarded to SEARCH.


Should the CMO of the Bank take the decision to invest money only in Search or other so called performance techniques?!


Creating awareness around a brand & work on trust are the basic first steps in any marketing activity and it is completely related to the last step in our marketing funnel that is action taken and conversion. How do we weigh this in terms of attributions?  As a matter of fact TV is a place watched by many eyeballs and many people turn their attentions to other medias. This shift is an opportunity! People do watch TV AND there is an opportunity to enrich this campaign by combining Digital Media. (FOTENOTE: Sync TV info below)


As a matter of fact making noise with call to action signs like:


“click here”


“sign up here”


“blink blink blink blink and blink”


All of these things can cause an emotional negative effect towards the BRAND. The problem is that few companies give Digital Marketing activities a chance to grow its seeds because we are blinded in the BRAND OR PERFORMANCE concept.


Performance is as good as branding and it should work together.


Programmatic media allows any marketer to listen to their audience groups. Understand what they need and like.(also look at :


Programmatic Media now after about 5 years of existence also allow means to expose Brands and the services that they offer in a nice way. I refer to formats such as Flash, html5, richmedia, native ads, Video, etc. It’s the time to let the real creative geniuses to step in to the arena and show the world how nice we can expose advertising to the market. We can now serve the beautiful ADS, to the right AUDIENCE, at the right TIME.


(By the way, a message to all creative Agencies. Wake up, your time has come programmatic Media = Creative. Also read


….but again, if we don’t allow ourselves to combine things such as;


Mobile AND Video AND segmented DATA AND search AND TV AND Email marketing AND retargeting campaigns AND RichMedia AND etc etc then we will not be able to be creative and we will definitely not see the whole picture.


All it needs as a base is a set up a technology that allows to show the chain of marketing activities, give true weight in attributions to the different activities and draw smart conclusions.


RESULT in the end of the day is important and have no doubts, but by getting blind in rigid KPIs, or put things in a “this or that perspective” like brand OR performance can unfortunately lead to bad decision and a slow down in innovation.


If you would like to know more on technologies that offer analysis on attributions, DATA management platforms or buying platforms, please contact me at or follow me on twitter: @folQ_DigitalAds


Lets together build a smart and efficient ecosystem through programmatic media.




SYNCTV : Case study Adform on a real case



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