Perspective - The worlds of brand and performance marketing begin to merge

By Adam Furness | 7 December 2023
Adam Furness.

The AdNews end of year Perspectives, looking back at 2023 and forward to next year.

We talk to marketers from across APAC day in and day out and a common theme from 2023 is that it has been a year of adaptation and innovation - particularly on the performance marketing side of things.  

Why? Well there’s several key issues that have come together to create a perfect performance marketing storm. First up, customer acquisition costs have gone through the roof, rising 200%1 in the last decade. Then there’s the general consumer ‘ick about the use of data post a few high profile breaches and scandals.  

However, the larger issue is that the customer journey of today isn’t the same as a few years ago. Brands are beginning to recognise that they have to stop interrupting and disrupting the consumer’s normal course of online behaviour. This means recognising that when people come online it's typically for either information, entertainment or connections. What it isn't about is looking for an ad - so marketers and publishers are seeking more ‘organic’ pathways to reach new customers. 

There’s several pathways emerging but they all have one thing in common – they all involve brands ceding (at least some) control to the consumer. Ease of access to information means people no longer have - or want -  to take a brand’s word for it about things. Instead they are gaining ideas, information and inspiration from the things people, creators and publishers are sharing. So the challenge becomes how best to be part of that information as a brand. 

And for most brands this means partnering with the content creators and publishers to create an authentic connection. 

On the content commerce side of things, this year’s upfronts demonstrated its increasing importance to publishers as a revenue stream. At D_Coded earlier in the year News Corp announced its Total Commerce Bundle, introducing “headless commerce” which allows its audience to complete a purchase inside video or text content without being moved off platform. Then Nine expanded its e-commerce solutions and affiliate marketing capabilities across its entire editorial portfolio, whilst in September Are Media announced its transformative push into becoming an omnichannel content commerce company. I’ll be expecting further additions and innovations to content commerce options as we move through 2024. 

The creator economy similarly shows no sign of slowing down as peer-to-peer recommendations are now a critical part of the consumer journey from discovery through to purchase. Indeed 64% of consumers globally make purchases based on an influencer’s recommendation at least some of the time. When someone follows a creator they build a relationship with them because they typically share in their everyday moments as they move through their week. They listen and trust them and it's a really powerful connection.  When we talk about creators, it's important to note that nowadays content creator tools and the undeniable impact of TikTok means ‘regular’ people are creating their own spheres of community and influence. Consequently, we’re seeing brands build relationships with multiple content creators. In fact, brands will often work with micro-influencers to gauge resonance and conversion rates before finalising content creation strategies to test and learn in (almost) real time. 

As we move into 2024 we’ll undoubtedly see content creators becoming a larger part of performance marketing efforts. Yet, the more interesting development is that we will also see their role in the traditional marketing funnel evolve. Content creators have traditionally been an upper funnel play; in part due to the difficulty of attributing and managing different reward structures.  However, now there’s the available technology to do so, we’re seeing content creators playing a bigger role across the entire marketing funnel from awareness through to purchase. 

As content creators begin to have full-funnel impact 2024 is likely to see the worlds of brand and performance marketing begin to merge - or at least work closer together. 

Adam Furness is Managing Director – Asia Pacific at  

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