Discussing the future of performance marketing with some of Perform[cb]‘s leadership team, including Chief Operating Officer, Brad Dobbins, Chief Strategy Officer, Matthew Lord, Executive Vice President of Marketers, Lee Aho, and Executive Vice President of Partners, Brian Taylor.

How do you think the industry is going to evolve over the next few years?

Lee: We’ve experienced firsthand the value of quality acquisitions. In our case, business moves such as these enhance the day-to-day for our employees, marketers, and partners. For our business and the industry as a whole, I anticipate further blending and expansion of performance-based opportunities for marketers and partners alike.

The performance marketing industry, like many others, has a rich history of using trade shows as a means to create and sustain relationships within the space. With the unprecedented changes to the trade show environment, we’re forecasting an everlasting shift in how networks, agencies, and clients communicate. It will be interesting to see how the industry as a whole adapts to the virtual show environment. For example, our team now utilizes video on nearly every call, both internally and externally. We’ve enjoyed some great experiences, from virtual happy hours to “meet the family” video interruptions. Collectively, these new experiences have strengthened our relationships and created beyond-the-boardroom bonds that we’ll continue to take with us.

Brian: I see compliance being the forefront of industry evolution keeping up with government regulations and traffic source requirements. I also believe you will see more common traffic types like OTT (over the top) video ads and major app platforms becoming more competitive with Facebook. Different traffic types will equate to different audiences/offers, so a deep understanding of the intersection between traffic type and target audience, as well as the right creative, will be paramount to future success. Payment solutions will also become easier for the consumer with smart form filling and thumbprint or face recognition purchases at a much larger scale than they are now.

Do you believe that performance marketing will take a bigger share of large brand budgets in the future, or not? Why?

Brad: 100%. This shift has already been evident over the past 2-3 years. Within performance marketing, brands only pay for performance once the affiliate successfully achieves the desired conversion point. The “pay per results” model makes it easy to quantify campaign outcomes and enables marketers to allocate their budgets to the channels with proven results. With an added level of comfort provided by the compliance and fraud protection offered by networks like Perform[cb], many marketers are learning that performance is the one unique channel that can do this for them, which has driven brands to realize the necessity of adding performance marketing into their overall UA strategy. 

Lee: Performance marketing is the great equalizer – it provides the ultimate platform for brands, large or small, to compete for their ideal customers, and we expect to see the adoption of this marketing channel continue to accelerate. As large brand campaign performance becomes increasingly competitive, we anticipate continued expansion of large brand budget allocations. Direct client feedback from large brands supports our expectation, stressing the value of acquiring new customers with measurable campaign results. Years ago, many large brands were too slow to maximize performance-based strategies. Smaller, nimbler marketers regularly outperformed many of the most recognizable brands in the industry. Fast forward to this year, we’re seeing a greater balance between client profiles. In fact, many of our top-performing clients are household names.

Facebook and Google are facing ever-increasing scrutiny from antitrust regulators. If they were broken up, how do you think that would affect the industry?

Matt: I don’t see the antitrust suit against Google impacting performance marketing, although additional competition would, of course, broaden opportunities. One, the focus of the current suit is too narrow, largely limited to Google’s paying companies like Apple to be the default search on their phones. Two, the case is likely to drag on for five to ten years.

I am more encouraged by the movement towards online privacy. Ironically, Apple and Google are drivers in this movement, because it will allow them to restrict data from third parties and own more of it themselves. While Apple and Google will only grow stronger by limiting third-parties from collecting user data (in the form of device IDs or cookies), strict privacy limitations will disrupt the data farming at the core of Facebook, programmatic marketing, and other micro-targeting companies. This will shift a larger share of budgets to performance.

Of course, this shift also represents a change for performance marketers, but we are an industry full of innovators. When outside forces demand performance marketing to evolve, it is often the protagonist for our biggest leaps forward. The death of the third-party cookie and privacy concerns, I believe, is going to lead to next-gen tracking that will open up new distribution and opportunities. We’ll follow consumers wherever they may go, from mobile to connected TVs and beyond.

Lee: Performance marketing will continue to thrive. Over the past 15 years, we’ve experienced an ongoing evolution of verticals, traffic types, promotional methods, and performance models. Ever-changing consumer behavior will continue to impact future shifts in where and how performance-based traffic is bought and sold. However, the demand for customer acquisition on a performance basis will always be a consistent piece of the equation.

Are you an advertiser or marketer looking to add a new channel to drive user acquisition? Or perhaps you’re an affiliate looking to connect with a new network and deliver high-quality traffic? Visit Perform[cb] to apply to be a marketer, or apply to be an affiliate now!