In traditional marketing organizations, brand and direct response (DR) efforts occupy two very distinct and discrete positions. Brand tends to focus on long-term impact intent, and DR focuses on short-term. Brand is top of funnel, and DR is bottom of funnel. The two categories are different sides of the same coin, with the same end goal, but enjoy few day-to-day commonalities.
The metrics used to measure these initiatives reflect this disparity. Brand marketers focus on sentiment, engagement, interaction, equity and other slightly “fuzzy” KPIs, while direct response marketers look at transactional metrics and behavioral response: This $1.00 returned $1.50, based on this consumer action.
When these silos formed, the distinction made sense. It is admittedly challenging, even with today’s plethora of data and technology (let alone what we had 10 years ago), to bridge the gap between brand and DR. Intuitively and organizationally, from the people to the numbers, the rift is wide. But here’s the catch: CMOs don’t care.
The C-suite as a whole wants to get its arms around the effectiveness of the entire marketing department. Your CEO doesn’t want to hear about the differences between brand and DR, so your CMO can’t either.
The pressure is coming from multiple directions. Companies must be increasingly accountable for their digital footprint. Consumers expect increasingly high levels of personalization, relevance and speed. And CMOs have never been more under the gun to orchestrate all of the moving pieces into one cohesive and precisely measured agenda.
Reaching common ground
So, what does it take to reach common ground between brand and direct response campaigns?
Historically, companies attempted to bridge the gap with marketing/media mix modeling (MMM). MMM answers high-level questions well and addresses the brand side of the equation admirably, but it is ultimately too broad and not actionable enough to effectively integrate direct response.
The pendulum is now swinging to the other side. Organizations have begun to look to their performance agencies for more comprehensive insights, in hopes that new technology and an elevated emphasis on incrementality and investment will translate across both languages.
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