Earlier in March, Airbnb announced a gear change in their marketing strategy. After a year like no other, the travel and accommodation giant announced that performance marketing budgets would be drastically cut. The company will instead move the funds to brand marketing and PR.
Naturally, this news has caught a lot of attention. Airbnb is a global leader in its industry, and they’ve long been digital disrupters taking new steps and showing the world how it’s done.
So, if you’ve seen this news and it’s got you wondering, “Hmm… If Airbnb is cutting performance marketing, is that something we should consider, too?” You would not be alone in asking that question. However, the answer would be, in 99.99% of cases, “Absolutely not.”
The unfair fortunes of the business elite
Airbnb is a global leader with global brand awareness and loyalty. People airbnb when they go on holidays. Their brand name is used as a verb to describe using their brand. That kind of star status can afford to make bold changes to their marketing strategy. Most other businesses cannot.
To become a super-power, as they have, Airbnb has invested millions of dollars in scaling their business, with years and millions spent on performance marketing. In 2019 alone, $314 million was spent on performance marketing. Because of their previous performance marketing success, the brand has grown to the level it is now, able to try new avenues and accept the consequences of these iterations.
Airbnb can afford to lose profits in the pursuit of new attention-grabbing tactics. Most of their competitors cannot.
While it’s on-brand for them to make bold statements to show their commitment to their new direction, no-one, not even Airbnb, can be sure that this change is going to go well for them. We’re willing to bet that even Airbnb has a limit. If their strategy change does not bode the growth they desire, performance marketing will be back on the agenda.
They’re progressive and bold, but they’re not stupid. Like every other business, Airbnb still needs growth to survive.
Along with our marketing peers worldwide, our team watch with bated breath to see how this plays out for the home-renting leader. But under no circumstances would we advise any clients, friends or family members to follow suit.
To maintain growth, their investment in brand marketing and PR is going to cost them hundreds of millions to get the reach and frequency required to drive enquiries and sales. If you don’t have a spare few hundred million floating around in the budget, performance marketing is not a channel you can afford to skip.