March 8, 2022

Traditional Awareness vs. Performance-Driven Awareness: What Works Best for Native Creator Ads?

With global ad-spend set to reach $786 billion by 2026 – and with a fast-growing share of that budget getting allocated to social video advertising – digital advertisers aren’t simply awash in money like never before. They’re also making huge year-over-year investments in reaching audiences using online native videos.

But do bigger budgets always translate into driving bigger return on investment (ROI)? Not necessarily. If you’ve got a ginormous ad budget but don’t know the first thing about who your target audience is, then you’re in for some heart-to-heart conversations with your boss when they ask you to show what you’ve achieved with all that, uh, money.

That being said… if you’re a marketer looking to target the lower half of the customer funnel (i.e. the longstanding model, first outlined in 1910, showing how buyers interact with brands), things are looking pretty good for you. After all, you’ve already got a model that works. All you really need to do is examine recency, the online indicators that show you whether an existing customer has already interacted with your brand’s social media channels, clicked “open” on one of your emails, smashed that like button on your branded video content, or purchased something on your website.

Using all that recency data, you then can develop super-accurate profiles of your audience members. Having personalized profiles means you can create relevant ads and branded content that keeps your audience on the edge of their seats (hopefully!) as well as loyal to your brand.

That’s if you’re a marketer catering to the lower half of the sales funnel. Your day might be nonstop hectic, but at least you know what the &^!% you’re doing.

But what if – gasp – you’re a brand marketer targeting the upper half of the marketing funnel [cue eerie lights and weird UFO invasion music]? Seriously though, what if your job is to raise brand awareness among people who don’t know the first thing about your brand – and have approximately 1,001 reasons not to find out? Sure, you might have a nice, big pile of ad-spend next to you… but again, what good is all that if you don’t know who you’re advertising to?

It’s all about your audience data…

… or in this case, your lack thereof. According to a recent report by McKinsey, many “brand awareness” marketers don’t have enough granular data – or time-tested attribution models – to accurately measure the impact of their awareness campaigns. They face gaps between MROI (marketing return on investment) and marketing execution. Finally, most don’t have the ability to optimize their marketing campaigns in real-time.

Despite all this, as a brand marketer, you’re still somehow expected to play by the same attribution models that your lower-funnel peers do. You might not have the faintest idea who you’re advertising to (apart from maybe a sixth-sense, “gut” feeling) but forget all that.. because now your boss is IM-ing you at the crack of dawn, demanding to see what you’ve quantifiably done with all that ad-spend they sent your way? You’d better have an explanation…

That’s your problem in a nutshell: Without having the right data to engage new audiences, your brand can’t build reliable customer profiles that convert couch-slumping video content bingers into electrified, attentive shoppers.

Nevertheless, this has been the historical, go-to mindset for most advertisers: dedicating huge sums for brand awareness campaigns, and then hoping for the best. Even today, with nearly half of surveyed CFOs saying they’ve declined marketing expenses because they didn’t demonstrate a clear line-to-value, most upper-funnel awareness initiatives still manage to eat up more than 50 percent of most marketing budgets.

Does it have to stay like this forever? No, it doesn’t. And here’s why.

How performance marketing is changing brand awareness

For all the problems plaguing brand awareness campaigns, help is on the horizon. New tools and strategies are emerging that empower upper-funnel marketers to market in the same, accurate ways that lower-funnel marketers already can.

For example, television advertisers have long lacked the same pinpoint-precise means of measuring audience data that digital advertisers can. But that’s changing rapidly, especially with the rising number of consumers with smart TVs. Not only do most smart TV sets come with a unique IP address that provides advertisers with geo-location, but they also come pre-installed with automatic content recognition (ACR) technology that records the specific video ads they watch all the way through – and which ones they skip. Using the intelligence gleaned from ACR technology, brand awareness marketers can rapidly optimize and adjust their advertising to match the real-time habits and interests of their audiences.

Another thing working in brand awareness marketers’ favor is their growing ability to stitch together “identify graphs” of potential consumers. By taking the various types of publicly available user data (usernames, browser cookies, phone numbers, unique device identification codes, and the like) and piecing them together, brand awareness marketers can build ideal audience profiles from scratch – and do so much more easily than they ever could just four or five years ago.

Another new advantage that brand marketers can rely upon is the ever-growing capacity of automated advertising platforms to store, track, and analyze user data. Programmatic advertising has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years. With the help of real-time, self-adjusting algorithms and experienced data scientist teams, “upper-funnel” advertisers can find new ways of “parting the veil” and seeing who their ideal audience members are, what digital and/or video advertising platforms they’re using, and which channels (television, social, native video advertising, and so on) they prefer being engaged on.

The end result? Advertisers now have the means, tools, and data they need to optimize their awareness campaigns in the same way that lower-funnel marketers do. It’s just a matter of implementing these tools into their marketing mix.

And the incentives for adopting performance-based brand awareness are incredibly high. As the MicKinsey report neatly summarizes: Companies report marketing efficiency gains of up to 30 percent and incremental top-line growth of up to 10 percent without increasing the marketing budget.That’s a competitive advantage you don’t want to be cut out of.

See? We told you it was going to be OK!

Performance-driven awareness campaigns are effective for creator advertising.

What does performance-driven awareness mean for native creator ads?

If you’re reading this blog, chances are high you’re a brand – or a brand creator – who’s deeply interested in native video ads. And if that’s the case, then this next part is for you. So pay attention! ðŸ™‚

Obviously, native videos are already game-changers when it comes to digital advertising. The stats don’t lie: Native creator ads offer an 18% higher lift in purchase intent when you compare them to basic banner ads. There’s also the built-in storytelling and shareable element of native creator ads – especially for video. 70% of respondents in a 2016 study reported they’d rather learn about products and services from content creators than from normal advertising – and with the rise of Gen Z, those numbers aren’t exactly declining.

As a video content creator, you can already generate meaningful conversations among your followers and subscribers  that build brand awareness in real-time. But here’s what you maybe didn’t know: When you sponsor a video to run on a sophisticated video ad platform, you not only benefit from the natural engagement that native ads come with, but you also benefit from algorithms that provide you with all the accuracy – and cost-efficient savings – of performance-driven targeting.

Using a good platform, you can instantly gather a huge amount of granular data about your audience’s purchase and transactional history. That data can get really granular… right down to your customer signups, their specific purchase volumes over time, and their shopping cart behavior.

Armed with that data, your platform’s algorithm can then take that data and calculate a monetary value for all your customers’ purchases, while also calculating a probability of those purchases being driven by the video you sponsored on the video platform.

Partnering with the right platform will even show you your return on ad-spend (ROAS) in the statistics dashboard. For example, if you see “2.3” in your dashboard, that means that for every dollar you spend, you’ll receive $2.30 in purchases. Your platform makes certain that the probability returned is between 70-99%. If not, it simply reruns the algorithm and makes sure to underestimate the return on ad spend value you see in your stats dashboard.


Your video ads just became that much more accurate, efficient, and (dare we say) unstoppable.

By matching the data-driven efficiency of performance-driven awareness with native creator advertising formats is a win-win combo for marketers when it comes to accuracy, engagement, and value. If you’re not ready to implement all the necessary platform tools to use performance-driven awareness, that’s fine and good. But given all the benefits, it’s not something you’ll want to sit on the sidelines for.

There are only a few platforms out there that calculate ROAS from customer shopping behavior tracked from native video ads – and Curastory is one of them.

To sum it all up

Over the past year, advertisers have gained incredible levels of insight into the online browsing and purchasing behavior of Americans. With large numbers of people on lockdown due to the global pandemic and spending more and more of their time online, it was inevitable.

The level of granular insight that brands now have into their audiences is staggering. The question, for marketers, is finding the right ways and means to utilize all that data to unlock new insights about not only their active, current users and customers – but potential new customers, too.

By doing so, brands can develop awareness campaigns that are just as effective and performance-driven as sales campaigns already are. Yes, even you!

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Referrals are a significant part of a creator’s growth journey, and at Curastory, we are all about empowering and enabling creators to grow as much as they allow themselves to.
Referrals are a significant part of a creator’s growth journey, and at Curastory, we are all about empowering and enabling creators to grow as much as they allow themselves to.