Every crisis is an opportunity. This is not a new insight, but in 2022 it bears special significance. 

The performance marketing industry is going through an unprecedented level of change. The combination of COVID, increasing regulation and privacy concerns, and the potential break-up of Google and Facebook – the two companies that between them provide much of the online infrastructure that we all use every day – is massively disruptive, with what are arguably the biggest changes still to come. 

So, if every crisis is an opportunity, how do we take advantage? Let’s talk about a military concept: the speed of relevance.

Focusing on the speed of relevance means emphasizing innovations and changes that speed your ability to respond to rapidly changing situations. For the military this involves aggregating information from across the entire battlefield, evaluating it, and then developing and executing it more rapidly than the enemy. 

What does it mean for marketers? Metrics and analytics are fine, but they will not provide a competitive advantage unless you also have systems in place to incorporate them into a bigger view that encompasses customer behavior, market trends, and anything else that impacts the business. And having done that, you need to focus on making a plan and executing it not just well, but faster.


Speed is a competitive advantage.

The great insight for the military has been that it is impossible to make the right decisions every time, but if you review the results, reset and execute again fast enough, and do it over and over again, the chances are that you will reach the right decision quickly, and win the war as a result. 

In marketing terms that means that the typical speed of response that we see in most online advertising campaigns needs to spread through the organization, so that data inputs from sales teams, market research, and supply chain (not a comprehensive list!) can be incorporated and reevaluated quickly.

To use another military term, marketers need to “get inside their competitors’ OODA loop”. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. If you can do those four things on repeat, faster than the rest, you are probably going to win the war.

Disruption and change isn’t necessarily bad thing. In fact, if the Google/Facebook duopoly is broken up I suspect the performance marketing industry can expect a period of unprecedented growth. But you don’t want to be the last unevolved dinosaur on the planet. Integrate speed of relevance into your thinking and your organization, and don’t let a good crisis go to waste ever again.