PPC, CPA, CPC, SEO… WTF?

Oscar Romero, Managing Partner at Performics, on why the bewildering landscape of digital performance media is an integral part of your business.

TLA (three letter acronyms) clog up inboxes across the land. For the uninitiated, it’s a perplexing place to be. Even experts cannot possibly have a deep understanding of every aspect of performance media and there is simply too much to know. The media landscape is changing at lightning pace; the digital media giants of Google and Facebook introduce new products and offerings on a monthly basis, while companies such as Amazon have ramped up their offering to muscle in.

Everyone has their own jargon and language but amongst all the buzzwords, a revolution is taking place in media with marketing budgets shifting increasingly to digital performance. Established digital advertisers are becoming ever more sophisticated, while traditional brands are launching ecommerce platforms, apps and more. There is no doubt that the future is here, and the future is digital. And anyone who doesn’t understand it is going to be left out in the cold.

It’s clear why this shift is happening. Not only is the general population increasingly plugged in (you need only to look round any high street, café or train to see everyone staring at their phones), but digital offers an unrivalled level of accountability and insight. Every touchpoint can be measured, and it’s easier than ever to shift advertising spend to the areas that are actually driving results and value to the business. Marketing pioneer John Wanamaker’s famous quote “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half,” no longer applies in the age of digital analytics.

What is clear is digital performance is too big and too important to sit with a handful of backroom experts. The cliché of ‘The IT Crowd’ style geeks sat in a darkened room doing ‘something with computers’ isn’t the right attitude for today’s world. Digital performance media is now very much everyone’s business, and it’s vital for everyone in a marketing function to have at the least a basic understanding of the overall practice, terminology, channels and objectives. Once you start to understand this world, you can ask your specialist teams intelligent, considered questions that will help drive towards overall business goals and objectives. You can also support conversations back into the business, and translate the activity into meaningful insights that a CMO can understand.

Of course, you can’t be part of the conversation if you don’t understand the language. While there is still very much a need for deep experts in specific channels and roles, everyone can play a role in upskilling themselves in a general sense. As a starting point, don’t be afraid to ask questions:

  • What is our overall digital strategy?
  • What are the channels involved?
  • How do each of these channels work?

Specialists are usually only too happy to talk about what they do on a day to day basis, so take them out for a coffee and grill them on what’s happening in their world. Read as much as you can, attend any conferences you can, and it won’t be long before you become immersed in that world.

The IPA is, of course, a fantastic resource for this with a variety of articles, resources and conferences to be a part of. Additionally, this autumn they will be launching the Digital Performance Certificate that will provide additional training material and give you a very strong standing in the performance world. Once you understand digital performance, you can understand where the opportunities are, what the threats are, and what needs additional investment. The great thing about digital performance is it has a very real, very measurable impact on the bottom line, so once you start improving on it you can see the results come through in almost real time.

The world of performance digital isn’t going to get any simpler any time soon. Google and Facebook will continue to evolve, and new players will continue to come into the market. But by giving yourself a good grounding in the basics, you can ensure you get the jump on whatever’s coming next.

Oscar Romero, Managing Partner at Performics

The IPA Digital Performance Certificate, launching in autumn 2018, provides junior practitioners working in the communications industry with an essential grounding in digital performance marketing.