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PointRoll’s Inspired Execution

Driving performance by balancing algorithms and creative
  • October 28 2011

Using an array of data aggregation techniques, targeting methods and digital ad technologies, an automaker can deploy mobile ads on Pandora that tailor vehicle offers to consumers with specific music preferences. Or a supermarket chain can deliver real-time updates to its e-circular page to reflect items with highest popularity and the specific prices of store items in different parts of the country.

The above campaigns—for Ford and SuperValu—stand out among the recent successes at digital marketing services and technology provider PointRoll, a Gannett company. Working with brands from all verticals, including the retail, packaged goods and automotive markets, the company operates in all major media channels—including online, mobile, social and digital out-of-home—using the full range of traditional display, in-stream video and rich-media formats.

Rob Gatto, CEO of PointRoll, says that while many companies have mastered the functional side of ad serving, few are able to offer a creative soltion that reaches its intended target. “Anybody can find the user that they want,” says Gatto. “There are a lot of cookie-cutter solutions out there, but our value proposition is our ability to develop solutions that are specific to the individual. We can deliver messages that are localized to an area or specific to a demographic, behavioral or contextual profile.”

PointRoll avoids a strict algorithm-only focus when guiding clients through strategic planning, adds Cat Spurway-Hepler, the company’s SVP of strategy. “The pendulum in our industry has swung to the science, but that tends to overlook the creative side,” she says. “All these ingredients—audience, data, creative and distribution—in combination are what drive performance.”

To select optimal ad formats on a given campaign, PointRoll taps its extensive benchmark data governing advertising effectiveness. Over the last 10 years, the company has amassed statistics on both direct response and engagement metrics to uncover patterns that show how different ad features perform in different product categories. “We can also overlay publisher comparisons,” notes Gatto. “A particular ad feature might work better in an ad network than on a portal.”

PointRoll works with 90 percent of the top 50 retailers—including Radio Shack, Staples and Meijer—on digital ads that extend the concept of the “Sunday circular.” For SuperValu, it developed a series of expandable banner ads that featured targeted weekly circular promotions for Albertsons, Acme and Jewel-Osco grocery stores. PointRoll used its proprietary technology to populate ads in real time based on geographic location, shopper preferences, demographics, available products and contextual/behavioral information.

Data from the SuperValu campaign showed that the sales lift among exposed households was three times higher for the expandable eCircular banner ads than a standard Flash ad. According to Nielsen, SuperValu’s increase in same-store sales translated to a 10 times return on investment. Nontheless, Gatto has a clear point of view when it comes to the value of statistics. “Nobody’s algorithm is really that much better than anyone else’s,” he says. “Where we differentiate ourselves is that we believe we can execute in a much better and more complex creative environment.”