Key Take-Aways from Performance Marketing Insights Europe 2015

Posted by WhatRunsWhere on June 30, 2015
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Last week, the WhatRunsWhere team jetted off to Berlin to attend Performance Marketing Insights (PMI).  This marketing conference welcomed more than 800 senior executives globally to network, strategize, and discuss the evolutionary future of performance marketing.

Attendees included advertisers, publishers, networks, agencies, affiliates, and adtechs from around the world. It was two days of informative keynotes and insightful panels led by industry leaders from companies including Matomy Media Group, Salesforce, RetailMeNot, and

PMI attracted a wide variety of industries, but there were two prominent verticals, retail (making up 22% of ticket holders) and travel that seemed to dominate  in conversation and in attendance.

So what can brands and advertisers learn about the travel and retail industries when it comes to the future of performance marketing? We’ve summarized the top takeaways for both verticals below.


In 2015, e-commerce sales are expected to reach $350 billion so it’s no surprise that the retail vertical was a hot topic at Performance Marketing Insights. One of the major conversations on this industry was led by Anne Marie Schwab, General Manager and Vice President of RetailMeNot, France. She focused on how digital technology has changed the customer purchasing journey and consumption behaviour, creating new challenges for businesses. She advised how companies can adapt to these changes. Here’s what we learned:


Schwab of RetailMeNot France discussing the retail vertical at Performance Insights Marketing, photo courtesy of @seewoester

The time to embrace omni-channel marketing is now.

86 % of consumers start their shopping journey in one channel and end it in another. These channels include in-store, online desktop, mobile app, mobile site, Instagram, and Facebook. This is a shift from when the shopping journey solely consisted of going in-store and -after the introduction of e-Commerce – solely going online to make a purchase.

Nowadays, a customer might like a product on Instagram, find it on their mobile app, browse items on a mobile site (even add things to their cart), but make the final purchase on desktop. Regardless of the journey, brands need to be aware that the majority of consumers are interacting with several brand properties throughout their purchase journey. In order to provide a smooth and easy experience, it is essential for brands to adopt an omni-channel approach so that all touch points with the customer are consistent, and can easily facilitate their final purchase.

Forever 21 is a retailer that is executing the omni-channel approach for the consumer journey effectively. Below you can see their Instagram account, mobile website, mobile app, and desktop website. All of which are brand properties that consumers can easily access throughout their purchase journey.


Image courtesy of Forever 21 Desktop website.


Image courtesy of Forever 21 Instagram


Image courtesy of Forever 21 Mobile App.


Image courtesy of Forever 21 Mobile App.





Evidently Forever 21 is aware of all access points their target market may have with their brand and is ready to lead them through the purchase funnel at each.

Consumers are still purchasing in store

The second major point Schwab discussed at PMI was that 90% of retail sales still take place in-store! Shocking right? With all the technologies available to shop in the digital realm you would think this number would be lower. More specifically, customers are now looking up product reviews while in-store or using their iPhone to pay for their purchase. It’s important for advertisers and brands to understand this change in consumer behaviour and find innovative ways to leverage these opportunity-filled in-store moments.

These in-store moments can also be described as ‘micro-moment’s, which we learned about at ad:tech San Fransico. So how can brands and advertisers leverage them?

Well according to Schwab, 51% of consumers are inclined to purchase in-store when offers are also available on mobile. Additionally, 42% of in-store consumers conduct research online while in stores via search engines, retailer apps, or other sites.  Therefore, a huge opportunity exists to push customers further along the purchase funnel while they are already in-store using technology.

Sephora, a beauty industry leader, is an example of a company that has identified a change in consumer behaviour in-store and has found ways to leverage these moments.  The company recognized that their customers rely heavily on smartphones when shopping in Sephora stores to help them find the perfect product. Sephora designed an app to act as a personal shopping assistant for in-store shoppers. By providing this app, the company can, not only assist customers in finding the perfect product, but also offer exclusive deals and develop personalized branded experiences as well.


Screenshots from Sephora Mobile App.






By reaching consumers at the right moment (in-store), right time (while browsing) and right channel (mobile device), advertisers can and will win.

The other industry that attracted lots of buzz at Performance Marketing Insights was the Travel industry. With annual e-commerce travel revenue in the U.S at $122 billion, it’s no surprise that attendees were eager to discuss digital challenges and opportunities in this vertical. We heard from several industry leaders from companies including,, and Thomas Cook Airlines. So how can brands and advertisers tackle this vertical in the digital landscape? Here’s what we learned:

Proactively tackle cart abandonment

According to industry findings, 81% of online bookings are abandoned before the transaction goes through. Evidently one of the major challenges for brands in the travel vertical is how to keep customers engaged during such a critical moment in the purchase funnel. Sean Mahon from Equator and Brendan Jones from Ve Interactive shared their strategies of tackling cart abandonment for Macdonald Hotels.

  1. Onsite email re-targeting: when customers are leaving your site offer to email them a reminder of their booking by collecting their email. You’ll be able to capture their information and remind them of their booking intention at a later time.

Courtesy of Performance Marketing Insights.

2. Exclusive onsite offers: when browser or tab is closed, trigger a message that reminds
customers of exclusive on-site offers to create a sense of urgency for them to continue booking


Screen shot taken from Macdonalds Hotels and Resorts when leaving site

Mahon and Jones found that implementing these simple triggers just when customers attempt to abandon their carts can result in a major recovery of potentially lost revenue.  The second example, in particular, generated 17% of one month’s bookings. The exclusive offer trigger was clearly successful in creating a sense of urgency for the customers.


Panel Discussion on Travel and digital, photo courtesy of @ColinACarter

Use Social Media Platforms for Inspirational Content

The travel industry was deemed the richest in innovation when it comes to using social media for advertising.  The expert panelists discussing the travel vertical explained that even though people aren’t shopping for a vacation on Facebook and Instagram, they are excellent channels for inspiring wanderlust, paid acquisition, and for re-targeting those who’ve browsed holiday sites (also acting as another solution of cart abandonment discussed above).

Tom Davies of said, “we use Instagram as an inspiration channel, as oppose to a paid acquisition channel like Facebook and Twitter”. He demonstrates that even within each channel of social media there are specific ways of targeting customers. Here are some inspirational shots from’s Instagram account that are sure to create a sense of ‘wanderlust’ for followers.


Images courtesy of Instagram.

Another company using social media in an innovative way is Loews Hotels and Resorts. In their new ad campaign #TravelForReal, real-life images of actual guest experiences captured on Instagram are being used to promote the Loews Hotels and Resorts experience. The company is leveraging user-generated content to promote actual footage of what travelers can expect when travelling to their hotels. The ads also link to the Instagrammer’s account so that customers can look at more images from their trip. Not only is the campaign inspiring travel, it’s also building an emotional and personal connection with audiences as it shares real life moments.


Ads from #TravelForReal Campaign.









Companies like and Loews Hotels and Resorts demonstrate the rich opportunities available for brands to connect with audiences in the digital world. Check out this report to see how other travel industry leaders including and

Whether it’s in the travel or retail industry, in order for brands and advertisers to be successful it’s clear they need to follow the path of their customers. New purchasing habits, social media activities or browsing tendencies – advertisers need to stay informed and adapt accordingly. No matter what your brand is trying to sell, your customers hold the purchasing power so it should be your first priority to understand what influences them in their purchase experience.

What we also learned from two days at Performance Marketing Insights is that no matter what, there will always be challenges to overcome in the world of digital. What will keep you ahead is continuing to learn, actively networking with others in the industry (who are likely experiencing similar challenges) and being open to innovation.  By doing so you’ll turn these challenges into opportunities and opportunities into successes, and who knows maybe our next blog will feature how your brand is truly being innovative in the digital landscape!





Topics: Online Marketing, Digital Advertising, Conferences, Online Advertising, Tradeshows, Events


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