The 2019 award season has well and truly kicked off this week as both the Performance Marketing Awards (PMAs) and the Drum Search Awards released their shortlists. We’re delighted to say that we have been tipped in both of these highly prestigious awards.
The PMAs is now in its 13th year and aims to highlight the industry’s best and brightest within the performance marketing sector. With categories across the industry, from content and influencer marketing to PPC and programmatic, to verticle specific awards, the PMAs is a virtual “who’s who” in marketing.
At this year’s PMAs, we have been shortlisted in three categories:
Best Paid Search Campaign – NMPi & Superdrug Online Doctor: The Only Way is Up.
Best Use of Programmatic – Liverpool FC & NMPi in partnership with Webgains.
Most Creative Performance Marketing Campaign – Liverpool FC & NMPi in partnership with Webgains.
The Drum Search Awards focuses on the outstanding PPC and SEO campaigns within the industry. It seeks to celebrate the individuals and companies at the forefront of Search innovation.
We have been shortlisted in two categories at the Drum Seach Awards:
Best Health Campaign – NMPi & Superdrug Online Doctor: The Only Way is Up.
Most Effective Use of Paid Search as part of a Programmatic Strategy – NMPi & Pets Best Insurance: Doing What’s Best for Pets Best Insurance.
We are immensely proud of the work our teams have put in over the year, and we’re looking forward to the award ceremonies in April.
It would be an understatement to say that social media had a difficult year in 2018 with the Facebook family dogged by scandal after investigation after scandal, Kylie Jenner’s infamous “does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?” tweet, and the steady stream of controversies regarding Twitter.
In light of this, you would be forgiven for asking why Paid Social matters; why would you want your brand to be on these undeniably flawed platforms? The short answer: the billions of users ripe for targeting with unparalleled creative capabilities.
Making your Social Advertising work as hard as your other channels is no easy feat. The question for many of us remains:
How can marketers operate efficient, impactful Social campaigns that have a positive, measurable impact across their marketing portfolio and wider business?
The starting point for this lies in your foundations. Intelligently implemented & complementary audience and creative strategy, with clear goals, is the bedrock of the most successful campaigns.
Begin by choosing the right campaign goal. On Facebook, this will not only affect the options available when setting up your campaign but will also inform all optimisation decisions available moving forward. If you’re running a Traffic-based campaign when you’re aiming to maximise ROI or a Reach-based campaign for your new branding video, your campaign will never truly succeed even with perfect targeting.
As you’re setting up your audiences, ensure that you’re making the most of the vast array of audience information that can be layered to create complex and highly granular targeting strategies. Whilst lookalikes, interest targeting and dynamic prospecting can all be very powerful, they need to be narrowed down to be truly effective.
Finally, as you roll out your creative strategy, check that it aligns with your audience and campaign goals. Are you trying to draw in new customers, requiring a more informative creative? Are you driving existing customers to your site, or re-engaging with lapsed customers? Creatives for these audiences will need to focus more on any offers or new products.
A coherent creative strategy is crucial as it increases the value of an impression in a time where a user’s attention span is more fleeting than ever. You increase the value of an impression when the imagery of that specific ad matches any interactions they may have had, or will have, with your brand.
There a very few campaign attributes that do not overlap across your channels. Your budget, attribution, audiences, performance data and landing page optimisation – amongst many others – are all incredibly important to share across your marketing mix. If you don’t know where to start, Jack offers a couple of starting points.
Creative Strategies: Whilst there will naturally be a difference between the copy and imagery used across Social, Search and Display, it would be a waste not to utilise a clear shared strategy as this allows for a clear and coherent customer journey.
Performance Data: We’re given a wealth of data from each individual channel that all too often is criminally underused outside of its own silo. Whilst any advertiser worth his salt will be optimising at a product level on Google Shopping or selecting products for the home page based off sitewide performance, there aren’t enough cases of that data being freed to influence bidding decisions & dynamic product selection across Display or Paid Social.
Audiences: Play into each channel’s strengths and adopt a customer-centric approach which appreciates the touch points that users have taken so far along the path to purchase. Passing audiences from channel to channel allows you to adapt bids, creative, copy and other strategy points as you deem necessary.
A Source of Truth: Many advertisers still rely on Facebook’s tracking, which is incredibly flawed; operating in a silo which doesn’t take into account the other touchpoints in the path to purchase, wildly overestimating Facebook’s contribution. This leads to inefficient budgeting, an inability to effectively test, and inappropriate bid optimisations. A combined approach is needed, using deduped social activity to gauge true ROAS whilst also using Facebook post-view attribution on appropriate campaigns to assess further impact.
An appreciation of Social’s role within your wider marketing mix and business strategy is a key area of growth for many advertisers, to break it out of the silos and drive increased performance across your business. Armed with Jack’s advice, you’ll be able to develop a complete marketing strategy which allows you to share your insights to great success. You can view Jack’s slides here.
Following the recent launch of our CSS solution and the announcement of our Premium Google Comparison Shopping Partner Status, our Head of Performance, Max Flajsner, led a highly insightful webinar explaining Google’s latest platform.
Comparison Shopping Services (CSS) were a huge industry in the 90s, but after Google launched Google Shopping they noticed that their search traffic was being decimated as they were forced down the SERP. One lawsuit and a record-breaking €2.4 billion fine later, and Google have been instructed to clean up their act. In response, Google has opened the doors for CSSs to buy Google Shopping space.
The biggest benefit of using a CSS is that you can save over 20% just by signing up. As an incentive, Google introduced a 20% discount on CPCs in the SERP, making you 20% richer in the auction, and a Spend Match, giving you ad credits based on your spend within a 30 day period.
How does it work?
CSS Shopping campaigns work almost identically to Google Shopping. While you do need a different Merchant Centre, this looks mostly like the standard one with a few additional functions. You also manage your activity through your usual Google Ads account. Within Google Ads, you’ll see your discount appearing as part of your campaign performance metrics – which should be 20% better – and your Spend Match vouchers will appear like any other voucher from Google.
On the SERP, you will never serve the same product more than once, which means that you will never be bidding or second priced against yourself. When a user clicks on the product name they will be directed straight to your product page, or if they click on the CSS name they will be redirected to the CSS with the search term pre-populated.
When setting up your new Merchant Centre you have two options: to clone your Google Merchant Centre or switch over. The choice will depend on who you are as a brand and the kind of measurement you want to see.
You’ll be able to test performance of CSS vs Google for yourself.
You can split traffic by Shopping tab/SERP.
You will lose campaign data from previous campaigns
It will take longs to make changes.
We suggest you lower your bids by 15% and slowly scale up to account for the discount. At the same time, you should scale your shopping bids down.
You can keep all of your old campaign management.
There’s no change to your GMC management.
You can’t manually test CSS vs Google.
You can’t split SERP and Shopping tab data.
How to pick a CSS Partner
There are 4 main things to keep in mind when choosing your CSS Partner.
Are they direct linking? Do they send users straight to your product page or do a redirect to their site first?
How strong is their Google Shopping Offering? Since CSS Shopping campaigns are exactly the same as Google Shopping campaigns, you’ll want to investigate their prowess on Google Shopping to give you an indication of how their CSS Shopping will fare.
What commercial model do they use?Depending on your needs, be it gap coverage on an affiliate CPA model or the traditional agency model, you’ll need to see who offers what you’re looking for.
What level of servicing do they provide?Do they offer reporting or dashboards? How often push feeds to the CSS GMC, and how often do they update their site.
The Premium Google CSS Partner badge is only given to those who hold the skills and expertise to assist over 100 merchants on their platform, and we are thrilled to be the first advertising agency to achieve this milestone. Our heritage and depth of understanding of Google’s Shopping capabilities has allowed us to rapidly scale and provide leading brands with our technology, consultancy and expertise.
What’s so exciting about working with a CSS?
If you haven’t yet heard, Google expanded its Shopping proposition earlier this summer, encouraging several large agencies to become a part of their new partner programme, which now includes over 50 CSS platforms.
Google has confirmed that running Shopping activity via a CSS is 20% cheaper than running through Google Shopping. For example, a £1 bid through a CSS is worth £1 in the auction, whilst a £1 bid through Google Shopping may only be worth 80p.
Overall our campaigns have seen a significant drop in CPCs, averaging a 30% reduction in costs whilst maintaining optimal campaign performance.
If you have any interest in learning more about CSS and how you can receive Google’s CPC discounts and spend match benefits, get in touch.
The main message in the presentation delivered by Fred Maude, Performance Manager for NMPi, was that the customer is always right. At an industry level, at a brand or advertiser level, and at a campaign level, the customer is always right.
Experience Matters for the Industry
“Globally, monthly active desktop ad-blocking has grown 400% since January 2013 to 220 million” according to Adobe. This is a frankly staggering statistic and highlights a problem that rests above any one advertiser. Consumers are not happy with the industry in general, and we as an industry have the most to lose. The ad industry plays a major role in keeping a lot of web content free.
Experience Matters for your Brand
More than ever before, the customer is right. They wield more power and influence due to:
A wealth of choice – if you aren’t providing an experience that delights, then a consumer will just find someone who does.
Ease of switching – a consumer and switch to a competitor with little to no effort, and possibly pick up an introductory offer along the way
Louder voice – it only takes one trending review or social media post to make or break your campaign.
The bottom line is, if we don’t give them an experience that they like, they can punish us in ways and speeds not possible before the digital age. Fundamentally, if we don’t provide exceptional experience, then someone else will.
Experience Matters for your Campaigns
At the lowest level, the customer is still right – you just have to find them. There are people out there who will purchase from your campaigns, but finding them within budget constraints is difficult. On top of showing new and creative ads, you have to ensure that you are maximising performance potential.
Ads are like Marmite, so find the people who love your digital marmite by making your campaigns as granular as possible, breaking down your internal silos, and underpinning it all with analytics. Find out what technology your partners are using and work to integrate them. Make sure your channels are all working towards a common goal. Creating this greater experience will lead to higher engagement and increased direct response.
If we look after our own campaigns in this way, then the industry can look after itself.
Tupac Martir has worked with some of the world’s finest artists. From designers like Alexander McQueen and Alexander Wang, to bands like Porter and Unkle, and artists like Xu Bing, Martir has used light and video to create impeccable experiences for audiences. His work is perhaps the perfect embodiment of our topic, using art and science to create flawless experiences for audiences around the globe, and perhaps the best example of this is his collaboration with Johnnie Walker.
HIK+ (Johnnie Walker)
In late 2017, Tupac Martir took over the side of Mexico’s tallest building on behalf of whisky brand Johnnie Walker with a “visual poem” dedicated to Mexico City. The city was recovering from a devastating earthquake, and so with free reign to design whatever he wished, he decided to write a love letter to its people.
There were two main elements to the piece. The first half took data from Instagram to display posts about the audience’s greatest successes. As Martir and his team were sharing their success, he wanted to give the people a chance to do the same.
The second half of the piece used motion capture to record the movements of ballet dancer Isaac Hernandez. Showing his escape from a labyrinth, and overcoming an internal struggle in the process, it symbolised the struggles that the city had pulled itself through. Through artistry, picked up through data capturing technology, Martir was able to tell a story that was seen by thousands on their commute home from work. All in all, the piece lead to an increase in sales of Johnnie Walker of 17%.
In essence, it was a great experience developed by the melding of art and science, demonstrating how in the purest sense the two work hand in hand.
Customer first marketing is the holy grail of advertising, but we tend to only talk about marketing on a one-to-one basis. This is where the idea that marketing is creepy comes from: what we’re calling customer first is still just driving our sales. We should be putting our customers, rather than our marketing goals, first if we want to truly lay a claim to the “customer-first” mantra.
Science, but no Art
James Sleaford, Managing Director of DQ&A, uses many of his own experiences to demonstrate the problems with the current model of “customer-first”. Up until February 2018, he was still receiving emails from Booking.com with recommended destinations in Bali – a place he visited back in October 2014. Science and data are clearly telling them that this works, but for some this has an opposite effect. A customer would likely have a better experience if they were given similar locations, but not the same.
This is hardly the only example of this. Consider an ad for a German classical music streaming app, served to an English tourist only after they returned home.
A free drink offer sounds like a good idea, but if it’s not on anything your consumer ever buys then what’s the point? What about a dress that you might view once, but ends up following you around the internet for months after? The data and science might suggest that it works, but by only using science you’re never going to give a consumer a great experience.
Full Digital Transformation
If we as advertisers want to communicate with customers who want to engage – which leads to higher lifetime values, and develops a mutually beneficial relationship – then we need a full digital transformation. The path to customer-first marketing will take us from a media-centric approach to a tech-centric approach, up to a data-centric approach until our approach places the customer firmly at the centre.
Now, there are “6 Ps” of digital transformation: Plan, People, Partners, Platforms, Process and Personalisation. Of these, James focuses on Platforms, and in particular the Google Marketing Platform. A unified tech stack such as Google Marketing Platform allows you to move data from one place to another – something that wasn’t possible before. It also improves efficiency and performance straight away, gives you better data integrity, and helps you to break down human silos.
There are some things that marketers can’t get hold of through Google Marketing Platform, such as logistics, business reporting and CRM data. These business insights can all be stored in the Google Cloud. With all of these insights in one central place, you can increase collaboration across your media and creative agencies, your ecommerce team, your data & business analytics team and your tech team to once again break down silos and improve efficiency and performance.
The digital media landscape has changed substantially, and it is Dave Rosowsky’s – COO of Joystick – belief that we are now in the midst of a creative renaissance. We are in a unique opportunity to bring together media, creative and technology in a way that has never been done before. Historically, technology has supported media or creative, but not both. We are now in a position where technology is mature enough that we can start to find new and innovative ways to integrate them.
Professor Clay Shirky argues that “tools don’t get interesting until they get technologically boring”, and this is precisely where we are with programmatic. We can’t start experimenting with technology until society has become comfortable with it until we take it for granted. Now the industry has come to grips with programmatic, we can begin to play around with new formats and so on.
We’ve seen display advertising go from the first banner ads of 1994, back when you could expect a CTR of 44%, to the launch of DoubleClick in 1996. We’ve seen advertisers take down one of America’s largest airlines, and win a presidential election. We saw the birth of programmatic and RTB back in 2010, and now we’re at a point where it’s become boring.
This is the time for creative to shine. The creative renaissance is driven by data, delivered programmatically across a multitude of channels, can be tracked, analyzed and reported on, and of course, is fueled by creative.
Predictions for the Future
With the massive growth of programmatic media channels and the technology in place to deliver across “all mediums” we can now focus on what can be done creatively to bring our ideas to life.
Publishers will provide creative with the canvas they need, while also taking more responsibility for how ad inventory appears on pages and ensuring the ad-serving experience is much more consistent and clean.
Programmatic Direct will open up premium inventory and increases our opportunities to deliver visually compelling creative.
Creative will not only become more personalised but personalised across all channels.
High impact formats will make a resurgence.
Data, technology and analytics will enable collaboration between media, creative and experience in new ways, something that both the Google Marketing Platform and Joystick’s new partnership with NMPi and DQ&A are trying to realise.
Media enables us to reach the right person, but when you reach them, it has to be great experience. Creative is the answer. Creating experiences that delight our users is the answer.
Great experience drives great performance, but with so many touchpoints and variables plus an ever-increasing amount of data, how do we pull it all together to create exceptional experiences that drive customer loyalty? We sat down with Claire Rampen, Head of Growth & Digital at Beryl, Elizabeth Vince, Creative Agency Lead at Google, Amy-Lee Cowey, Senior eCommerce Manager for Charlotte Tilbury, and Craig Brown, Performance Development Director at NMPi to ask the hard questions and deep dive into what creates captivating connections.
Q: Are we making too much of a big deal out of customer experience?
The running theme throughout everyone’s responses is that customer experience has to be at the forefront of everything you do. Teams across your business have to make sure that customer experience is one of the first things they consider. As Craig notes, there is no such thing as good customer service anymore. Customers expect their experiences to be good, so they only call you out if it’s bad. You might be able to drive the best traffic in the world, but if the user has a bad experience on site you’ll never be able to get them to convert. On top of this, Claire argues that there is a second tier to this. You’re not only trying to get customers to convert but make them advocates for your brand, and ensure they stay loyal.
And the importance of customer experience is reflected industry-wide. Creative eCommerce and Brand Experience & Activation are now their own categories at Cannes. The industry itself is seeing how crucial this is for brands and advertisers, and we would do well to adopt Google’s number one principle: focus on the user and all else will follow.
Q: What are the challenges and barriers that you face?
Working in separate industries, our panellists face separate and distinct barriers. Beryl looks at how to get all the data together in a way that you can trust it, something Claire doesn’t believe anyone has cracked yet. One thing she does note is that the legacy behind established businesses often holds them back in this regard.
Reiterating comments from Fred Maude’s earlier presentation, Elizabeth reminds us of how easy it is for consumers to switch off and even switch to one of your competitors. They have so much more control than ever before and are much more likely to change channels if they want to avoid your advert for example. However, if they love something they will happily binge it. If a customer is leaning in and engaging with your advertising and brand, give them more to let them engage and roll with it.
From an agency perspective, Craig discusses his experiences with barriers in the industry. Often, he sees cases where brands don’t want to adapt to the point where it can become dangerous. Rigidity is great for brands as it allows them to keep their identities and inspire brand advocates, an incredibly important factor for retailers, but if they don’t adapt to what the customers want then you’ll start running into problems. In many cases, digital is much further down the line than you would expect and so they are often left with branding and creative that doesn’t appeal to the customer they want to reach.
Q: How do you effectively measure the success of your tactics?
The problem with measurement is that different things matter to different companies. Amy-Lee explains that Charlotte Tilbury is more than happy being a content-led brand, but this will never help with KPIs. This is obviously not the same for all retailers, and so it can feel that measurement is sort of arbitrary without a universal benchmark.
Each customer is different, and they interact with your brand in different ways. So something that is important to measure is the loyalty within separate categories. For example, a customer who just buys mascara is very different to a customer who buys foundation. Retaining these customers is one important metric to measure, but if you can graduate a customer from mascara to foundation, this is an even greater success.
Elizabeth’s advice is just to let your customers do the talking – this is the best way to understand how effective your campaigns are, and helps you to test and experiment with new content.
Q: How do we ensure consumers have a seamless experience both online and offline?
Craig argues that many businesses aren’t doing enough to set themselves up to create a coherent online/offline customer experience. A good starting point is to begin to understand the movement of the customer between online and offline, and what is bringing them into the store – something that media can really help with. If you know that it’s your higher-end products that are bringing people in store, which is often the case, then you know that you need to push that.
Before you start preparing this kind of approach, it is important to note that without a single customer-view, an omnichannel approach that covers both online and offline is redundant. You also need to ensure you’re doing as much data capture in store to build out a greater understanding of your customer.
Once you’re ready to begin rolling out an omnichannel approach, it’s difficult to know where to start. One technique that Amy-Lee recommends is a triangular experience of consuming online content, first-time purchasing in store before the consumer replenishes their supplies online.
The key piece of advice that came up repeatedly throughout the discussion was the importance of breaking down silos. It is silos that often create barriers to exceptional experiences across many different parts of the customer journey. Keep your silos in check and the rest is sure to follow.