15 August 2023
5 mins read

The emerging role of Brand Discovery in Performance Marketing

Strategy Lead

Performance marketing has become the lifeblood of successful advertising strategies.


Well, the advent of digital marketing and modern data tracking tools have raised the bar for marketers across the world. No longer is it acceptable to simply deliver impressions. Businesses want tangible results, measurable outcomes, consumer journey tracking, and a whole range of other data points.

Not so long ago, performance purists would never consider brand awareness to be a crucial part of getting results. This is because at the time, platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Adwords were better at generating conversions from cold audiences. Over time algorithms have improved, new ad products have shown up to make novice advertisers more competitive, and the supply of tricky black-hat style growth hacks has dried up.

In the modern age of digital marketing, brand is becoming powerful once more – and connecting to broad audiences with great content has become a crucial ingredient for businesses who want to succeed.

Let’s discuss the new role of brand for performance marketing, and how you should be incorporating it into your own funnel.

Measuring Brand Discovery

For decades, traditional free-to-air TV was the go-to platform for brand discovery. However, everybody now knows that consumers are spending more time online instead. This shift has fundamentally altered the dynamics of brand discovery, prompting smart advertisers to invest their efforts where their audiences are most active.

Of course, another huge factor is the lack of data and insights which come from traditional mediums compared to digital platforms. Precise targeting, better reporting, and the ability to test and flexibly iterate on creative make it the new preferred way for brands to advertise, especially when they don’t have giant budgets.

Yet, despite these improvements in reporting businesses still need more. Digital signals make lower funnel campaigns relatively easy to measure in terms of impact, but brand discovery is more difficult to tie to bottom line results. Modern methods for measuring brand discovery impact are available (for example, looking for increases in branded search), but smart marketers will use converging evidence from their site analytics, digital platforms, and lift studies to evaluate performance.

Similarly, the greatest potential for brand discovery today is in how it can connect to other parts of the overall marketing funnel.

The full funnel approach

The full funnel approach embraces every stage of the customer journey, from initial awareness to post-conversion loyalty. While performance marketing has traditionally emphasised the latter stages, the top of the funnel, particularly brand discovery, is where it all begins.

Brand discovery is the critical moment when potential customers encounter a brand for the first time. It’s the spark that ignites curiosity and lays the foundation for future engagements. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to stand out amongst a sea of other potential brands when it’s difficult to compete on product or service features.

By incorporating brand discovery campaigns in the funnel, marketers can ensure that their performance efforts are built on a solid brand presence, creating a sense of familiarity with the audience, which in turn improves the likelihood that they will think of the brand when it comes time to move further along the conversion journey.

Brand Discovery: How to nail the creative

Unlike the days of TV advertising, you can no longer expect great results from a single polished piece of creative. Brand discovery demands a multifaceted approach, fueled by creative excellence, and adaptation to your audience and where they want to consume content (like Youtube, or TikTok, etc).

One more thing: You need to be using multiple creatives and learning as much as you can about them.

With creative testing, we can fine-tune our messaging, visuals, and storytelling to align with audience preferences, increasing the impact of our campaigns.

By carefully choosing metrics that indicate quality engagement with your brand proposition, you can learn a lot about the elements of the creative which are driving the strongest connections and conversions. This iterative approach empowers us to refine strategies continuously, ensuring that ad spend only goes towards content which drives discovery and moves audiences further into the funnel.

In essence, creative testing acts as the compass guiding brands towards a successful brand discovery and performance journey, where authentic engagement and memorable experiences pave the way for enduring customer relationships and inevitably, sales.

Airbnb’s full funnel success

In 2022 Airbnb’s fourth-quarter results marked a significant milestone in its marketing journey, showcasing the triumph of their full funnel approach, which combines performance marketing with an increased emphasis on brand discovery. The company reported its “strongest ever” Q4 results, with net profit reaching $55 million compared to a net loss of $3.9 billion in the same period the previous year. These exceptional results were driven by higher revenue and increased marketing efficiency.

To bolster its brand presence and foster brand discovery, Airbnb shifted its marketing strategy in 2019, becoming more brand-driven and less reliant on search engine marketing and bottom off funnel performance strategies. This strategic pivot proved to be highly successful in 2020 and 2021, with the company experiencing tremendous growth. A large-scale brand and integrated marketing campaign called “Made Possible by Hosts” further fueled their success, increasing overall traffic to the Airbnb platform by nearly 20% in countries where the campaign ran, significantly outperforming non-campaign countries.

Airbnb’s success story demonstrates how a well-executed full funnel approach, integrating brand discovery campaigns and performance marketing, can drive exceptional growth and cement a brand’s position as a market leader. To read the full case study take a look here.

Final thoughts

When it comes to performance marketing strategies, the full funnel approach, with a significant emphasis on brand discovery, has emerged as the key to navigating the current marketing landscape.

By strategically embracing digital platforms and transcending the limitations of more traditional channels, modern brands can connect with their audience at every stage of their journey, laying the groundwork for long-term success and sustainable growth. In this exciting era of marketing, a robust brand presence combined with data-driven performance marketing is the ultimate recipe for transformative success.

If this article got you thinking and wanting to discover more, come and have a chat with us at Windsorborn.


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