Audience over Aggregators: How brands can reclaim power over customer acquisition

Hannah Kimuyu, MD – Performance, Brave Bison


Aggregator platforms like, MoneySuperMarket, Compare the Market, USwitch and more promise a seemingly easy avenue to new audiences and potential buyers. But at what cost?

For many brands, an unhealthy dependency on aggregators has become a difficult habit to kick. As a result, the budget that could be used for brand-building or direct acquisition is sacrificed to these consumer finance giants that have built supremacy through their aggressive marketing tactics. Which, let’s face it, are at least in part, built on brand money.

With this financial support, they can activate those big brand-building campaigns that help them dominate market share. Ironically enough, this is a point that MoneySuperMarket themselves once slammed, claiming ‘annoying ads’ detract from the category’s role in saving customers money (and yes, the MoneySupermarket, which at one point was responsible for three of the four most complained about commercials).

Hannah Kimuyu

So, the advantages of access to a broad audience and performance-based acquisition models aside, there is a clear argument to be made for taking the power back and rebalancing the approach to put the budget back in the brand’s back pocket. There are steps that will enable brands to take greater control of lead generation while optimising cost and ensuring a resilient and brand-safe growth strategy:

Dirty data damages discovery

No matter the sector or industry, as with most things in marketing, it starts and ends with understanding your consumers like the back of your hand. With that, good data is everything, and thanks to Generative AI, ‘dirty data’ can be efficiently cleaned to gain actionable insights. Moreover, relatively light data sets can be used to create silicon versions of an audience and get to know them as people. These days, just a few likes on social are enough to build that person’s message and serve it at the right time and place. And these brand-new data arts will become table stakes soon. Better data means a better understanding of people and, therefore, better performance.

It’s not just ‘good’ data. It’s knowing how to use it. An analytics framework is indispensable for helping brands understand what content converts customers, how to understand their purchasing power, even why prospective customers abandon certain purchases halfway through and whether this is a product issue, a UX issue, a pricing issue or something else. For example, for glh Hotels, which operates the likes of Guoman, The Clermont, and Hard Rock, Brave Bison’s proprietary reporting technology integrated all data touchpoints to create a bespoke marketing suite. The data enabled us to fine-tune optimisation, resulting in an ROI improvement of 61% and a cost of sale reduction of 32%.

Understanding audience intent is key to visibility

Understanding where your audience lives online is pivotal to reaching and being visible in those channels with minimal budget wastage. Consumer research tools and the aforementioned AI silicon sampling can help brands delve deeper into what makes their audiences tick. This will enable them to tailor messaging towards different stages of the purchase journey. Developing a funnel plan that maximises the audience’s platforms and channels is a good idea. A digital marketing framework like “SEE”, “THINK”, and “DO” can help marketers understand the consumer decision-making process through a multi-channel approach.

Don’t be afraid to use AI to free human creativity

The answer to effective online creativity is simple. Strive for bold consistency. In other words, brands should always stay true to what makes them unique while remaining on message. This ensures that content is first different enough to be memorable and consistent across all communications. While it’s true that knowing your audience as individuals means you have to create even more content, this doesn’t need to drain the budget. Again, the revered Generative AI can help. With the right audience insights and a strong brand identity, we have new powers to create more types, templates and variants of high-quality, low-cost content across written word, image, video and sound.

Marketers must get personal

It’s all gearing up to being extremely personal. An approach that is now pivotal. According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect their brand interactions to be personal. Tailoring messaging to audience intent can increase their likelihood of purchasing by 76%. The aim is to add value to an individual’s day rather than serving them just another generic (or ‘annoying’ ad…).

Consider our work with Legal & General. In an increasingly competitive finance market, L&G needed to bring in higher-value customers with an increased rate of applications. By tailoring the message of its search campaigns to the specific ‘psychological intent’ of people within its unique audience segments, L&G’s applications increased by 280%, and its revenue increased by 1080%.

For many brands, channelling more budget into understanding their audience will not only deliver colossal ROI but contribute to long-term brand-building, too. Ultimately, brands should reclaim their data, make clever use of AI and eventually build a digital marketing strategy that works for the brand. Not the aggregator platform.

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