Three Brands That Used Data to Transform Their Media Strategies

Creating efficiencies

We all know consumers have never been so digitally connected, generating a limitless amount of data as they click, search and scan throughout each day. So it’s no wonder Big Data dominates the conversation in an industry where almost everything can now be empirically validated, brands have the ability to connect cross-channel marketing with buying behavior, and corporate financial execs are more involved in the marketing process than ever before.

This month, WPP Group chief Martin Sorrell publicly addressed the growing influence of data in the marketing recipe—where numbers are no longer about just analysis and insights but also as clients expect more accountability from their agencies when it comes to delivering measurable business solutions. Observing an industry populated by “Maths Men” as well as Mad Men, Sorrell wrote in London’s Daily Telegraph: “Our target customer is no longer just the chief executive officer and chief marketing officer but, increasingly, the chief information officer or chief technology officer along with the chief procurement officer and chief financial officer. Effectively, we are increasingly working in an integrated way with our clients, who are looking for increased efficiency as well as effectiveness.”

Advertisers may not even realize how much data they have at their disposal since so much of it resides outside of their jurisdiction, in areas like customer service, finance, sales and distribution. Identifying that information and discerning its relevance is an urgent priority for leading marketers—who can bet that their competitors are already doing so.

Adding to the challenge, large packaged-goods marketers, understanding the value of all that data, are increasingly keeping it to themselves, creating their own private “trading desks” for information rather than sharing it with their agencies. “Data is only assets if you can make value out of it,” Nick Orsman, international head of data and analytics at Proximity London, tells Adweek. “There has never been more pressure on budgets and clients wanting to achieve more with less. Some of this data is already in their hands—it just needs to be put to use, to turn value out of those assets and use data in a way that is intelligent around content, timing and personalization.”

Proximity should know. At the Data Strategy Awards in London last month, the agency won a Gold for Best Use of Social Media for its Procter & Gamble initiative “Mums on a Mission.” Realizing that mothers no longer swap tips on the school run, Proximity sought to replicate that community via Facebook. Working with Supersavvyme, a P&G Facebook community, the agency created a to-do list app via the social network that produced a solutions database.

Thus, consumers became the media channel themselves, crowdsourcing searchable advice. Rewards came in the form of coupons, which, in the first two weeks, generated 33,000 redemptions for P&G products. Also during that time, 52,872 tips were shared while the average time spent on the site was 18 minutes. Fifty-one percent of visitors were repeat visitors.

Here, more examples of how data is transforming the marketing and media strategies of brands facing three very different challenges.


A Dash of Data

In the Media Mix

McCormick isn’t just in the seasonings business—it also offers meal inspirations by way of recipe suggestions on its website. With more consumers as budding chefs and Americans developing more of a taste for ethnic and gourmet flavors, that digital real estate has become even more important—and especially so considering that the company is going up against much larger rivals with fatter media budgets and with pure-play sites like that of Food Network thrown into the mix.

“Recipe views, in many respects, are a proxy for a sale,” explains Tony Effik, managing director, media and connections at the brand’s agency, R/GA, New York. “While McCormick is a significant business, it’s generally outspent by competitors, so we had to figure out a way to outsmart them by leveraging data to execute earned and paid media plans. We do media. But we also come up with creative, and data is the thing that holds all of that together.”

In 2012, McCormick spent $43.3 million in media, per Kantar. Compare that to $404 million at Campbell’s Soup. When the agency started working on the account in 2011, McCormick was getting 12 percent of the category’s total unique visitors, per comScore, and rivals outspent the brand four to one. Now, McCormick’s gets 25 percent of that traffic, and with only a minimal increase in the media spend. “What’s closing that gap is creating efficiencies through the use of data,” says Effik.

With its Responsive Media System, R/GA analyzed the online recipes market, seeking out anomalies and undervalued strategies. The agency studied media-spending patterns and set up a series of algorithmic rules across media channels including search, social, real-time media and promoted videos. R/GA then took what it unearthed and applied it to paid search for McCormick’s Lawry’s brand.

McCormick’s and R/GA decided to leverage Lawry’s West Coast heritage in a test using search and Mexican recipes. The agency split Lawry’s media budget between Western states like California (where Lawry’s originated) and the rest of the country. Two data points were key: the clickthrough rate and cost-per-recipe view. The national market did well for clickthroughs. But more interestingly for R/GA was data from the West Coast where the post-click action rate was 20 percent to 60 percent greater than in the rest of the country, prompting it to tailor the media plan geographically.

“That learning allows us to explore the same rule in other channels, so now we can run display advertising in a more focused way on the West Coast if we want to,” says Effik. “We’re thinking about how the budget responds to the market and how we make changes, sometimes in real time, against the dynamics of the marketing using data. Response for us is not whether something succeeded or failed—it’s an opportunity to learn. What we’re learning from search we can apply to other areas of marketing.”


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