Brandformance: How Mobile Marketers Can Incorporate Both Performance and Brand Marketing

Apps on a Samsung Galaxy

By Eric Vissers, Head of Growth at DCMN 

The mobile industry has long been focused on performance marketing, which is seen as the fastest and most cost-efficient way to acquire new users.

However, we’re now seeing that for many industry players, taking a “performance-only” approach is becoming increasingly unsustainable. The same tactics they have previously used with great success no longer work: CPIs and CPMs become more and more expensive, and it’s harder to find new, quality users that retain. In a nutshell: user acquisition eventually plateaus.

In this article, we’ll talk about why this race to the bottom is no longer viable, and how mobile apps can combine both performance and brand marketing to reach entirely new pools of users and achieve effective, long-term success.

Why mobile apps should invest in brand marketing 

Many apps might be wondering if it’s worth investing in brand marketing. After all, their performance campaigns might be working just fine for the moment. But there’s a reason why apps like Spotify, Strava and Duolingo have managed to build loyal customer fan-bases, despite having hundreds of competitors in the app stores. That’s because consumers ultimately reach for brands that are top of mind and connected with them on an emotional level. Users want to spend time and money with brands they know, like and trust. Building a strong brand, and investing in traditional large-scale branding campaigns, are both key to inspiring this loyalty.  

Ever since the release of iOS14, the industry hasn’t been able to make the same data-driven decisions as before. This means many apps are already turning towards more traditional brand-focused channels, such as TV and out-of-home, to help them reach new users they might not usually attract. 

A race to the bottom

Ultimately, taking a performance-only approach can hinder growth long term. Once an app realizes it has hit this growth plateau, it can take a while to get bigger-scale branding projects off the ground not to mention that these suddenly feel very expensive compared to previous performance projects. And by the time branding solutions are implemented, your app might have lost traction with users or given up ground to competitors. That’s why the sooner you integrate brand projects into your marketing plan, the better meaning your growth trajectory accelerates with much higher efficiency, too.

Brandformance: How to marry both performance and brand marketing 

Brands no longer need to choose between short-term wins or long-term success. Instead of separating brand and performance marketing, we recommend app publishers to look at the disciplines more holistically to understand the combined impact of all their marketing activities. 

This means reviewing all aspects performance and brand, creatives and media to understand how they are working together and where you might have any weak spots. By looking at it through this systemic, overarching framework, you’ll be able to identify specific areas to focus and improve on. 

Here are three additional ways to incorporate a Brandformance approach into your marketing strategy: 

1. Don’t sacrifice creatives for performance

Creatives might be the biggest point of contention between performance and brand teams. For performance teams, it’s all about which ad will drive the most clicks. But that shouldn’t come at the expense of your core brand attributes or at the expense of showcasing your app’s value.

While one ad might be the best performing, you also need to think about how many of these users would see that ad – but then might never remember your app because there was nothing connecting your brand to the ad. Your creative is the decisive factor in how viewers will respond, so make sure it aligns with your brand identity from start to finish.

2. Break down silos between performance and brands teams

With the majority of marketing departments split between brand and performance teams, this usually leads to siloed measurement, a limited view on issues and how to solve them, and struggles between brand and performance spend.

But there’s a better way: in a holistic strategy, objectives like increasing brand awareness can sit neatly beside the likes of CPI, ROI and ROAS. Performance-centric digital channels can sit alongside the likes of linear TV and OOH, often seen as more branding plays. Breaking down silos between teams, and working towards common overarching goals, is the ultimate way to avoid stagnating growth.

3. Don’t forget to measure the brand impact of your campaigns

Alongside measuring the usual performance metrics like CPI, CPM and MAUs, it’s also crucial to measure the brand impact of your marketing activities. This will give you a more well-rounded view of the impact of your campaigns. Some attribution tools have the capability to account for indirect brand impact, depending on the campaign channel. You can also measure these metrics via consumer surveys and audits, polling consumers on their awareness and perception of your brand – so you can get a clear picture of how this evolves throughout the years.


Head over to DCMN’s website to learn about how Brandformance works, or follow them on LinkedIn for more.