In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb made a decision to shift its marketing strategy. Prioritizing brand building over performance marketing, the company reduced its budget for performance advertising and increased spending on brand campaigns in 2020, as the travel industry was greatly impacted by the pandemic. Later in Nov 2022, they announced that their brand-first marketing strategy started to pay off, according to the Wall Street Journal. So, should you switch up your marketing mix and double down on brand marketing? That’s what we’re going to explore in this post. We’ll define and compare performance marketing and brand marketing. You’ll learn the differences between these tactics and discover the best option for your brand. Be sure to also check out our guest post on Mobile Marketing Magazine on brand vs. performance for mobile apps.

The Difference Between Performance Marketing and Brand Marketing

Let’s start by breaking down these two marketing types and looking at some examples.

What is Performance Marketing?

Performance marketing is a form of digital advertising in which a brand pays an advertising platform for the business results achieved through a campaign. The cost of the campaign is based on measurable results. For example, with a pay-per-click (PPC) model, a brand only pays the advertising platform when a user clicks on an ad. In many cases, brands can track and measure performance marketing results in real time. The most significant advantage of performance marketing is that you only pay for the results generated by the campaign. As a result, there’s more transparency with performance marketing than with TV, print, or other traditional media campaigns. You can feel more confident that your marketing budget isn’t being wasted.

Performance Marketing Examples

Performance marketing includes a bunch of different channels and platforms. Here are a couple of examples:

Social Media Ads

Performance Marketing vs Brand Marketing

Brands can use Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms to reach their target audience, drive traffic, and generate sales. You can use a range of ad formats and targeting options with metrics like conversion rate (CR), cost per lead (CPL), and cost per sale (CPS) helping to measure online marketing campaign performance.

Learn More: Performance Marketing Agency

Search Engine Marketing

Performance Marketing vs Brand Marketing

With 93% of all online experiences starting with a search engine, it’s no surprise that channels like Google Ads, Big Ads, etc., are key performance marketing channels. Brands can get their products displayed above the organic results on the search engine results page (SERP). The use of target keywords and negative keywords allows advertisers to narrow in on the people actively searching for terms related to their products and services.

What is Brand Marketing?

Brand marketing is focused on building customer relationships and educating potential customers about your product or service and why it is valuable for them. Most campaigns aim to increase awareness, brand equity, and customer loyalty. Instead of promoting a specific product, brand marketing campaigns typically highlight the brand’s values and unique selling point (USP). In modern days, brand campaigns can build hype around a company or a use case for one of its products. Brand marketing can make consumers more likely to purchase and recommend the company by creating positive sentiment. For example, a company that highlights its sustainable business practices can appeal to consumers concerned about climate change.

Brand Marketing Examples

Brand marketing campaigns often use the same channels as performance marketing. But companies also use more traditional media to increase the reach of their brand campaigns. Here are a couple of companies that have succeeded with brand marketing.


Performance Marketing vs Brand Marketing

When Airbnb switched up its marketing mix, CEO Brian Chesky said the brand now sees marketing as playing a role in “education,” not “to buy customers.” Airbnb launched a brand marketing campaign to support the launch of its “OMG” property category. The campaign used TV spots and billboard placements as well as digital channels. With the company well-established as a leader in its sector, focusing on brand advertising has helped to cut costs while achieving new growth.


Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign is one of the best examples of a successful brand marketing campaign. The company is well-known for its innovative products and design. Performance marketing still plays a role, but Apple has achieved a dominant position in the market by communicating its core values through brand marketing campaigns.

Performance Marketing vs. Brand Marketing

The top-level goal of brand marketing and performance marketing is to generate sales. But there are significant differences between the two. Brand marketing is typically a more long-term strategy. This is because it can take time to establish an emotional connection with consumers that influences purchasing decisions. The metrics used to measure brand marketing are also different from performance marketing. For example, the success of a campaign can be measured using impressions, unique viewers, unique followers, sentiment analysis, and other metrics that are not directly tied to return on investment. Performance marketing is focused more on short-term goals. A successful performance marketing campaign is measured using sales, conversions, and other metrics linked to specific results.

How to Choose the Best Approach for Your Startup

Airbnb cutting back on performance marketing has caught the attention of a lot of marketers. But few companies have a market share as large as Airbnb, and the company still spends around 50% of its budget on performance media. A robust digital marketing strategy relies on combining brand marketing and short-term conversion campaigns. A good balance sets your company up for long-term, stable growth.

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