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💎 Growth Gems #99 - Growth, Brand, and Paid UA (Meta AEM)
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This week, I’m sharing gems on:
These insights come from Joanna Lord (courtesy of Ekaterina Gamsriegler) and Matej Lancaric.
🥇 TOP GEM OF THE WEEK
1. Growth: evolving from marketer to executive, brand <> growth, team alignment
Gems from Joanna Lord (ex-CMO at ClassPass, Advisor for Simple App, Index Ventures, and more) in Previous CMO Of ClassPass Shares Her Growth Tactics
This week, she’s the “guest miner” for this first section, so I’ll let her take over!
Marketing Against the Grain is the YouTube show hosted by Kipp Bodnar (CMO at HubSpot) and Kieran Flanagan (CMO at Zapier). I've been a big fan of what they have been doing in the last couple of years, and I strongly recommend Kieran's newsletter.
I also got the pleasure of learning from Joanna Lord when she was running one of the programs at Reforge. I've become a big fan of her approach to Growth and Marketing and have followed her inspiring journey since then (I strongly recommend her newly launched newsletter, too).
So I couldn't miss the episode with Joanna being a guest on the show!
💎 Great marketing leaders get curious about various domains and grow from T-shaped marketers into T-shaped executives.
Joanna explained the career progression of T-shaped marketers. From a T-shaped marketer (i.e., specialist between channels), you grow into a marketing leader. Below is an example of what the profile of a T-shaped marketer can look like.
As a marketing leader, your T turns into the knowledge of the domains. For example, you might be deep in growth, but you need to understand brand, product marketing, or maybe a certain category of products, i.e., vertical marketing.
And then you grow to be an executive, and you need to become a T “functionally”, where marketing is what you’re deep in, but you also need to be great at operations, finance, and product.
💎 To get Brand and Growth to work well together, there needs to be extreme clarity on what both own and why. There needs to be deep respect and sponsorship from the founder, the CEO, and the entire executive team. They both need to be seen as levers for the business.
Joanna explained further that Brand and Growth are absolutely required.
Brand helps you know who you are, what you stand for, and how you’re going to show up. You need that to execute growth well.
Growth attracts people, activates them, and converts them, and you need all of that to grow your brand awareness and strength.
The idea of respect and sponsorship for both Brand-focused and Growth-focused parts of Marketing as a prerequisite for success resonates a lot with me. Even today, there's often this underlying assumption that Brand function exists in parallel to a Growth/Performance/Direct response marketing team. That one brings results, while the other is a waste of budget. Or that one gets ambitious ROI goals to hit while the other can spend dozens of thousands without clear goals and KPIs.
We can sure do better.
On the topic, I recommend this article by Eric Seufert, where he talks about this unnecessary polarization and suggests an alternative taxonomy and measuring hierarchy.
Eric writes: "The primary means of inciting purchases for digital products is Direct Response marketing, followed by Delayed Response marketing, with Brand marketing serving as a support system for catalyzing the performance of both of those tactics."
I also recommend the book by Byron Sharp, "How Brands Grow". It helps to broaden the narrowed-down perspective that is especially popular among performance marketers.
💎 Creating a world-class brand comes down to three things:
Having a stand on social or economic issues
Listening to the customer's voice
Understanding the cultural zeitgeist.
Here is how Joanna expands on this:
The founder has to stand for something and have a really strong understanding of vision and mission and how they reach it differently than someone else.
Every company says they listen to customers, but most companies suck at it. They have an ICP or a persona but do not understand their customer.
Understanding the cultural zeitgeist is the part at which Joanna believes most CEOs and founders completely fail. The world-class brands are on top of things, and tech companies tend to go inward instead. Kipp adds that culture and business are closer together now than ever before. And if the business is not relevant in culture and doesn’t understand it, it’s basically impossible to build a real brand today.
💎 There are only three ways to grow a company: acquire more people, retain them longer, or monetize them better. And for all three of those, you need to have a North Star metric and input metrics. And each of the input metrics should have loops or channels behind them.
Joanna shared that there’s a system to growth and that the real challenge is aligning around the three things above.
Teams don’t know what business model they run. They don’t know what their North Star metrics are. They don’t have the data to track well, or they don’t believe the data. So they misalign and fight internally, and there’s drama and politics, and that’s what kills growth. But Growth itself is actually fairly simple if you treat it as a system and work through the levers. Growth is not hard to grasp; it's the execution that makes it hard.
Check out this detailed guide by Reforge about choosing your North Star metric.
I've only covered a small portion of the insights. Watch the full episode to learn why Growth is the Hunger Games of Marketing and why there's so much drama in Growth, how to choose your first CMO and not regret it, some controversial takes on product marketing, and more.
2. Paid UA: Meta’s Aggregated Event Measurement
Who else to comment on a new Meta feature than “no bullshit” Matej and the two & a half gamers crew?
It was a good opportunity to look at it and hear what people who have tried it have experienced so far.
I can’t say this increased the excitement…
What’s AEM? What’s the promise?
💎 Meta has now made Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM) also available for app events for iOS 14+ campaigns. Benefits they claim:
You don’t need to configure app events for Apple’s SKAdNetwork
You can get more events
You can get almost real-time data (you can see installs right away)
You can compare attribution windows D1, D7, D28
You can run Facebook Audience Network (FAN) on iOS 14+
Sounds promising, right?
Meta made AEM available for website events a couple of years ago. This is when we had to choose only eight conversion events and rank them. This event ranking was essential for your campaign performance, with optimization for higher-ranked events performing better.
In May 2023, Meta made some changes to AEM for website events. It’s not a removal; it’s an evolution: no more prioritization, dedicated tab, or domain verification.
💎 AEM uses the Facebook SDK to measure iOS 14+ campaigns, almost similar to how you use Firebase for Google UAC campaigns.
💎 AEM is currently not available in all accounts, and you need to be eligible. One criterion is that you must have the Facebook SDK supporting iOS 14+ campaigns (16.0.0).
You can check your eligibility in Meta’s event manager (instructions here).
AEM <> MMP and modeled conversions
💎 Meta is suggesting that if an MMP doesn’t support AEM, you can start using the Facebook SDK for measurement instead. However, remember that Meta uses modeled conversions, i.e., made-up conversions.
Anything with “modeled conversions” needs to be met with a high dose of skepticism…
From discussions on the MobileDevMemo’s Slack, advertisers are seeing things ranging from Meta under-reporting vs. SKAN to the opposite 🤔
Meta said it was a bug, and those issues have now been fixed…And Edgar’s team is leveraging AEM to get access to the Facebook Audience Network inventory.
Matej also touched on which MMP supports it:
AppsFlyer says it’s Live, but 0/5 accounts Matej checked were eligible (the documentation mentions support for re-engagement). But did the apps have the Facebook SDK?
Adjust seems to be supporting it (cf. here)
Singular told Matej it is not recommended to have Singular SDK and Facebook SDK live at the same time because it can cause measurement conflicts
This is all over the place and subject to change, so the best is to ask your MMP contact.
Shamanth Rao (CEO at RocketShip HQ) shared that it shouldn’t depend on the MMP and that you need an updated Facebook SDK: he saw apps with Singular, AppsFlyer, and Adjust be eligible. For the apps he tested AEM for, he did not find AEM to be dramatically different/better.
💎 You can only send one event, either from Facebook or your MMP. If you send events from both, you’ll see a double counting of the tracked events (e.g., purchases, revenue).
The only way to have both is if your MMP supports AEM and events are de-duplicated. This is what Kochava claims to do, for example.
What to do?
💎 If your campaigns are performing well with SKAN, do not bother with AEM. If they’re not performing well, talk to your MMP and Meta rep to see if it could help.
Still on MDM’s Slack, Juan David Gutierrez (Performance Marketing Manager at Admiral Media) recommends to:
Use similar budget SKAN vs. AEM
Let it run for 2 weeks
Wait for a few days for all conversions to come in
Use your analytics tool and Meta to compare results
I would add: test for the same optimization event!
And before I leave, here is a quote on build vs. buy:
“Only build solutions for the problems you’re here to solve” - Léa Samrani (Product & Growth Consultant)
See you next time. Stay curious!