tangledNo secret that performance-based advertising is dominating internet marketing. But brands are still trying to find the right mix for all those performance options, email, and a rapidly declining display market.

According to IDC research analyst Caroline Dangson, the display market contracted by 7 percent in Q4 of 2008, and will continue to see decreased spending until the end of this year. With this in mind, several brands are trying to find some balance for all the advertising options available.

“I think they all have a place,” said Kate Johnson, personal care consumer relationship marketing manager at Kimberly-Clark. “Display ads measured by CPM can help with brand awareness. Cost-per-click allows me to learn about my customers. Cost-per-lead allows me to focus on an invitation to buy. You can’t focus on just one, but I think you must optimize them quickly.”

“We’re looking for long-term relationships,” Ross Geisel, assistant director of interactive marketing, U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “Brand is important, the number of eyeballs are important but these things are not as important the cost-per-lead and ROI.”

Speaking at the CPL Summit, Johnson said Kimberly Clark is trying to find a “diverse portfolio” of branding tactics and lead generation. Most of it has been driven by content. Huggies, for example, focuses on parenting and health content which is relevant until the customer moves out of the market. And most of Huggies content is pushed through email, which Clark confessed is hard to maintain in terms of key performance metrics. She said the need for community begins when the customer outgrows the brand’s ability to provide relevant content.

That leads to the maze of social media options. “The possibilities are almost paralyzing,” said Dangson. “When to begin, what to collect, how to analyze – all these things need to be worked through by brands as they approach social media.”

Dangson said 73 percent of IDC’s consumer panel wants content to be free and ad supported. But when it comes to social media 51 percent find advertising “annoying and irrelevant.” She recommended that brands consider sponsorship models which is the most liked and least intrusive model for social media.