Brand advertising is essential for successful performance marketing, according to Yango

Yango - Nick Murdoch

The agency has pivoted from a performance agency to a full-service media agency with digital and technology at the heart.

The debate pitting performance media against brand advertising is nonsense, according to Nick Murdoch, managing partner of performance agency Yango.

Murdoch tells Mediaweek, the eternally controversial argument that investing in one over the other is baseless because both are necessary to ensure success.

“Performance media doesn’t work without people being aware of your brand,” says Murdoch. “We’re huge advocates for spending money on branding because it improves performance.”

Murdoch, one of the founding team, along with fellow managing partner Luke Povee, believes the argument undermines the art and craft of marketing – as well as the intelligence of marketers. 

“I mean, if you are a genuine marketer, then you aren’t going to see it as one or the other. Brand is long term, and performance is short term. And if you do short term at the behest of long term it’s simply not going to be good for your business in the long term.”

Specialist beginnings

The Yango team knows a thing or two about long-term. The agency first launched as an independent trading desk in 2013 at a time when programmatic was just emerging, and the major multi-national media agencies were starting to build their internal trading desks. Initially, a large portion of Yango’s work was providing programmatic solutions to those agencies while they bedded in the internal systems.

However, once those internal trade desks were established, Yango found it was getting squeezed out of the market by the agencies it had helped prosper. Yango pivoted its offering to work with independent agencies to provide white-label advanced digital services for the smaller agencies that didn’t have those skill sets.

“We were really agile in those early years,” says Povee. “We were able to jump at the opportunities, and we quickly built our skills; we had relationships with all the DSPs, and we became experts in every technology in the marketplace. That was our thing, and we got a lot of traction in the market as a result.”

However, it wasn’t long before Murdoch and Povee recognised the opportunity to pivot once again and expand the business from a niche shop specialising in performance media to a full-service media agency.

“Initially, we offered very niche digital services, and we were very specialist, but once you get involved with the client, we found ourselves asking ‘why are we planning digital separately to everything else?’ Shouldn’t it all be done together?’. It didn’t make sense. So, we started to bring on the skills to provide a more holistic media offering, which is what we do today. We’re now a full-service media agency with data and performance at the heart of the agency,” said Murdoch.  

A full-service offering

Povee believes this opposite approach is part of Yango’s unique proposition.

“Having digital foundations and adding a layer of traditional media channel planning is the reverse of how many agencies out there have been built and we feel it has given us an advantage in understanding the right blend of performance and brand activity to get the best results.”

“At the risk of sounding arrogant, we were a little bit before our time,” adds Povee. “We had the model that people are trying to get established at the moment – if anything we were a little too early.”

Yango currently boasts a diverse range of clients, including the University of Sydney, Toby’s Estate, Surf Life Saving Australia, Parramatta Eels and Frasers Property, and a staff of 25 people, including strategy director Eb Yusuf and head of technology Rob Nagy.

Despite the economic headwinds, Murdoch and Povee are upbeat about the next 12 months.

“We feel like there’s plenty of upside in our full-service media agency with digital and technology at the heart model. We want to continue to grow sustainably.”

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