Meet the jury member Irina Piiskoppel: performance marketing has a very short-term impact

Irina Piiskoppel, who is the head of digital at the Estonian creative agency Tank said that only data-driven and sales-oriented communication will not get one very far. The image of the brand and its building and maintenance is important.
How do you see the importance of (international) advertising competitions today? What do they provide?
We definitely do our daily work not because of competitions. Participation in competitions is rather a consequence of all this great work and such “a sweet cherry on the cake”. At the same time, competitions are definitely needed and it is a good opportunity to show and be reminded from time to time, to be proud of your work, to appreciate yourself and your team, to be part of the community and to see what other agencies are doing.
In the case of international competitions, there is also the opportunity to introduce oneself outside Estonia and get acquainted with foreign agencies and their level and quality. It can be very interesting and inspiring. And such “healthy”competition must still exist – it triggers and ignites.
What are the biggest changes in the world of advertising in the near future? Is it the case that performance marketing is always taking over and there is less room for creativity?
Performance marketing is gaining ground in recent years and more data-driven digital marketing is preferred, but it seems to me that this trend is already starting to subside a bit.
First, data-driven and sales-oriented communication alone will not get one very far, as the important connection between people and brands will be lost. This is also proven by several studies. If customers are buying from you today, because you are offering a good price, tomorrow this customer may be buying from your competitor, because she/he is now offering an even better price – this will not increase brand loyalty. Marketers understand how important a brand image is and how to build and maintain it.
Secondly, internet users and consumers have become significantly more attentive and careful about their data and privacy. Many targeting tactics no longer work or are very limited. Changes in cookie tracking and an update at Apple’s iOS 14 dictate where we’re going.
But why not combine the two terms “performance marketing and creativity”! The two concepts are not mutually exclusive, you just have to find a so-called compromise between data and creativity. Marketers should look for ways to use data more intelligently and combine it with creativity.
The role of creative agencies is to make ads memorable, engaging, inspiring and emotional and strong (even through storytelling) for consumers, but also to deliver the desired results. I think we are already doing very well, and it is clear that online advertising is being created with the specifics of digital media in mind.
Which new skills marketers and agencies need to have due to changing environment?
In my opinion, no specific new skills are needed – all the good old skills aren’t worn out, ie the ability to be specific and clearly understand where you want to reach with your brand and what you want to achieve. It is also important to be able to look more broadly and be strategic and to see the brand as a whole, even in the distant future, not just a short-term view. In my opinion, performance marketing has a good short-term effect – here and now, but what’s next ?!
It is important to know the people, especially your consumers, to whom you are selling and to whom you are directing your communication (data-driven approach). The ability to adapt to a rapidly changing digital world is now a key – it still requires many different skills and, above all, technical ones, because technology is changing very fast. Of course, it’s important to be smart, creative, and the ability to take risks from time to time is also a benefit.
Is it true that start-ups do not want to use the services of advertising agencies because their processes are too slow for them? Do you see any solution and/or opportunity here?
The creators of start-ups believe that their product/service is new and unique and indispensable for society. Is that really so?! The time will show! If the start-up is still at the beginning of its journey, then there are many other things besides marketing that need to be addressed. In particular, the focus in this phase is on creating and developing a solid business model. Rather, marketing will take place when the business model is more or less in place, the product/service itself and its benefits to society are clear and understandable, and consumers and target market or markets are defined.
Start-ups initially have too limited financial resources to talk about big marketing plans, and this money is primarily invested in product/service development. Whenever possible and budget allows, performance marketing is done because these activities are easy to monitor and measure. At this point, I agree that the processes of advertising agencies can be slow for start-ups. It is easier to do these activities in-house, which many start-ups do, ie learn the main channels (Google, social media, etc.) well or poorly and do it themselves, because this is also more advantageous at this stage.
However, when the start-up starts to grow big, one will look at marketing from a different perspective. The focus is more on branding and a certain level of specialists are already needed here. A lot of big companies (Wise, Airbnb, Spotify) have recently focused more and more on brand building.
Along with the company, the team is growing and more marketing specialists are being hired, including from outside the house (eg social media specialists, advertising and digital agencies, etc.). Marketing requires always-on action, so involving an agency/specialist gives the start-up team time to focus more on the business, and secondly, let’s be honest, involving an agency may not be more expensive than hiring the entire team in-house. For some of the start-ups works also a so-called combined approach, ie something (eg performance marketing) is done in-house and something (eg image building) is ordered from partners.
What do you think of influencer marketing?
As long as influencer marketing is relevant (because who knows, what will happen in a year or even a month – maybe all the channels that influencers use today will disappear completely), you have to make the most of it. But again, it has to be done very smartly.
You should ask yourself at least the following questions before you make a contract with an influencer and hand over your brand to them:
• Who do you choose to represent your brand?
• Does she/he fit with the values and principles of your brand?
• Does she/he have connection with your consumers?
• What content does she/he create on a daily basis?
The format of cooperation with influencers has been becoming more and more long-term over the last several years, they are also becoming brand ambassadors. Influencers are becoming part of the brand, they are hired as strategists, for example, and they are involved in the brand building process.
Influencers are successful when they consistently provide their followers with content that they like to watch and engage on a daily basis, and that provides them with interesting and valuable information. If your account becomes too much of an ad channel, the number of followers will immediately drop, because that’s not what followers expect. Influencers need to monitor very carefully how to maintain this balance.