Do Qualitative Metrics Matter in Performance Marketing?

Patrik Lehti
Oct 25, 2018 6:35:53 AM

Coming from the world of user acquisition, I’m familiar with looking at all sorts of performance metrics from impressions and clicks to installs, conversions, and re-engagements.

But I’ve seen from experience that there is a lot more to user engagement and ad performance than just looking at these numbers.

Very often, performance marketers may be blind to what is happening in the comment sections of their ads. They are either unaware of what is going on, or don’t see the direct link between user sentiment and conversions. There are few reasons for this.

Difficulty of monitoring comments using Facebook’s native tools

You may understand that sentiment and brand favorability can impact the results of your campaigns. Yet, you might not do it simply because it’s challenging to do so. One aspect of this is that platform-wise, Facebook’s native tools in Ads Manager do not allow for easy monitoring of what people are saying about the brand in the comments of paid social ads.

Lack of clear ownership

The other aspect of this is that user engagement in general tends to have no clear ownership, especially in growth companies. It may fall under the responsibility of the organic social media team or the customer service team who tend to focus more on the organic side of things. Often there is no single point of accountability for looking at engagement across both organic and paid.

Historical lack of clear metrics to measure sentiment or brand favorability

In the past, branding campaigns were run on billboards and television, where it was hard to quantify any changes the audience’s perception, and ultimately the ROAS and direct impact of such advertising on sales. Today, marketers have access to an array of data which they can use to determine the impact of brand favorability, from sentiment-based data to brand lift studies.

Eric Seufert, author of Freemium Economics and editor of the leading mobile marketing website, Mobile Dev Memo, writes that:

“A brand marketing campaign can be run under a performance marketing framework with assumptions, a model, and measurement. Brand marketing and direct response marketing are usually considered to be the two contrasting marketing tactics, and both can exist under the aegis of a performance marketing mindset. There really is no diametric “opposite” to performance marketing (non-performance marketing?).”


Practical examples of how brand favorability impacts performance

Comments acting as positive - and negative - social proof

If you’re trying to get a user to sign up for the first time, the first comment that they see under the ad makes a huge impact. Imagine how conversion rates might be affected if your ad has been running for several hours with the first comment at the top saying “This is a scam!”

When situations like this happen, your targeting and creative might be 100% right, but because of one comment, the ad is not performing as well it should be. This is a universal problem industry-wide for app developers, gaming companies, subscription companies, and tech-based businesses with a heavy focus on direct response marketing.

Even though Facebook hides some comments and only shows the ‘Most relevant’ at the top, it doesn’t take many negative comments for users to form an opinion of your brand and products.

According to research published in an Inc. article, 68 percent of people form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews. And they place high trust in these reviews, with 84 percent trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

If a customer is seriously considering a purchase or app install, there is a high chance they will click ‘View all comments’ to build the confidence to take action.

Unmanaged comments raising customer concerns about the app’s authenticity

Even if there are no negative reviews being posted about the brand, ads have high reach on social and still attract comments containing spam. Worse, trolls, scammers, and people posting affiliate links may hijack the comments section to take advantage of the ad’s wide reach.

When a user encounters these unmanaged, messy comment feeds, it raises a red flag. Especially in an era where identity theft, malware, and scams are commonplace, a comment feed that looks like the Wild Wild West might make a user question whether this ad is really from your brand or from an imposter. When that happens, the result is lower click-through rates.

The case for branding as part of performance marketing

The lines are quickly blurring between branding (long-term) and tactical (short-term) marketing. Increasingly, marketers are starting to realize that for one to be successful, the other must be performing equally well.

Just a few months ago, BrandBastion launched a collaboration with ad optimization platform Smartly.io, which takes into account user reactions and sentiment to an ad, allocating more budget to ads that audiences are reacting positively to, and decreasing budget or pausing campaigns that generate negative reactions.

Now, brand perception data can directly contribute to better campaign performance (increased ROAS and higher conversion rates), even if the goal of the campaign is direct response.

As Nik Sharma, Director of DTC for hint posted in a tweetstorm earlier this year:

“The smartest marketers go beyond data. They blend creative, the brand’s values, and the customer experience into one synonymous journey. Soon, branding and performance marketing will be the same thing.”

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