Marketers urged to ignore ‘false boundaries’ of brand and performance
Discovery reveals the holistic approach it took when launching its streaming platform earlier this year, as effectiveness expert Tom Roach questions the validity of separating brand and performance.
The majority of marketing campaigns are looked through via one of two lenses: brand or performance. The former is thought of as a long-term investment in driving brand health, while the latter is looked at as a short-term tool to drive customer acquisition.
But marketers have been urged to look past these “false boundaries” when creating marketing campaigns and to bring brand and performance together as one.
“Ignore these false boundaries, ignore the titles people have and get behind briefs with multiple objectives and campaign ideas that can do both,” urged effectiveness expert Tom Roach, vice-president of brand planning at digital marketing agency Jellyfish.
Speaking during the Marketing Society’s Balancing Short- vs Long-term Marketing panel discussion yesterday (27 May), Roach suggested that marketers do away with the separation of brand and performance entirely.
“It’s really important to remember that the very best long-term campaigns and ideas also work very well in the short term,” he said. “The words long term and short term are kind of misleading. What we mean is things that can work immediately and things that work in a longer lasting way.”
There is one campaign. It has a performance part and a brand part so the prioritisation of messages will be different and where you place them in media may be slightly different, but to a consumer it’s one campaign.
Adriana Rizzo, Discovery+
The ideas of short term and long term instead drive the “false notion” that a brand can say something today and then see sales “miraculously” occur six months or a year later, Roach added.
“Of course it doesn’t work that way. All longer-term success comes through the short term, so the more we can get together and work together, the better,” he said.
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Launching Discovery+ with ‘one campaign’
For Adriana Rizzo, vice-president of growth marketing at new streaming service Discovery+, bringing the brand and performance team together and united around one goal and campaign was a key factor in the highly successful launch of the new subscription streaming service.
Discovery+ was rolled out in the UK and Ireland in November 2020 as part of a partnership with Sky, before debuting in the US in January. The platform offers original non-fiction series across verticals including lifestyle and relationships, home and food, true crime, paranormal and natural history.
According to Rizzo, the launch was about the survival of the company. “We needed to go into the streaming space if Discovery was going to survive into the future,” she said.
“So we had to launch big. We had to go all in, because we had to establish credibility in the marketplace and break through an extremely competitive marketplace. And we had to establish a new brand that people didn’t understand, because most people didn’t know that Discovery was a bunch of networks, not just a channel.”
But while Discovery+ had a brand to explain and communicate, it also had to drive good results in terms of subscriptions from day one, Rizzo said. “We went in knowing that we were going to start tracking from day one and have executives involved from day one.
“So we thought about the campaign and said, there isn’t a performance campaign and a brand campaign here. There is one campaign. It has a performance part and a brand part so the prioritisation of messages will be different and where you place them in media may be slightly different, but to a consumer it’s one campaign.”
The Discovery+ team worked “really hard” to bring that to life, she said, even incorporating brand ideas suggested by its performance agency into its brand campaign, which was developed in-house.
As part of the campaign, advertising ran heavily across Discovery-owned cable TV channels, as well as across digital platforms.
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Breaking team siloes
To ensure that both brand and performance were thought about holistically and equally during the launch campaign, Rizzo said the whole marketing team was involved in reviewing KPIs across both brand and performance in a collective weekly meeting. Individuals could then go away to deliver on the role they are responsible for.
“It [allowed] an equal emphasis on the two and an ability to recalibrate if we noticed a problem somewhere,” she says. If the team noticed that brand awareness was slipping, for example, they might decide to reallocate spend away from performance media.
“By looking at these collectively as a team and holistically across brand and performance, you build one team and people feel like they can contribute to both sides of the equation,” Rizzo added.
“You end up with a team that doesn’t have this siloed view that thinks, I’m getting rewarded for performance so that’s all I care about. Because there’s this understanding that the two of them help each other.”
The KPIs have to be right, and then a really rigorous approach to measuring them and reviewing them and using them for forward action is really important.
Adriana Rizzo, Discovery+
A few weeks into the launch campaign, this holistic approach led to a reappraisal of the messaging used in the brand campaign, she revealed, having seen that certain messages weren’t landing with potential customers in performance channels.
“When we first launched, brand was the king and the assumptions we made around the brand and what people wanted to hear really guided all of the messaging,” Rizzo said. “A few weeks in, we started getting results from the performance marketing, and it started changing what we were saying in the brand.”
For example, the brand found its tagline, ‘Stream what you love’, wasn’t driving people to click through and subscribe in performance channels. So it also began to deprioritise the tagline in its brand campaign and instead presented messages that appeared to be resonating better.
Likewise, by analysing its performance marketing, the Discovery+ marketing team could see which TV shows were most exciting to consumers, which again led to a shift in the shows it focused on across brand channels.
“So I think the KPIs have to be right, and then a really rigorous approach to measuring them and reviewing them and using them for forward action is really important,” Rizzo said.
She added that it was a combination of this approach, plus a substantial investment in marketing spend and generous promotional activity, which helped drive an “amazing” launch for the new service, reaching its annual goals in less than three months.
Off the back of that success, Discovery is now partnering with US telecoms giant AT&T to launch WarnerMedia, a larger scale streaming platform to take on Netflix and Disney+.
“For us it was survival of the company,” Rizzo said. “We needed to go into the streaming space if Discovery was going to survive into the future. We’ve now done that in a big way and with the announcement with WarnerMedia, we’re doing it in an even bigger way.”