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Media Buying Briefing: ‘We’re engineering around the value proposition’: Kepler Group’s global reach expands as it absorbs U.K.’s Infectious Media

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Media Buying Briefing: ‘We’re engineering around the value proposition’: Kepler Group’s global reach expands as it absorbs U.K.’s Infectious Media

August 23, 2021 by Michael Bürgi

In December 2020, The Kepler Group, an independent marketing services consultancy specializing in three areas — media buying and optimization, data and technology consultation and implementation; and organizational transformation — closed on acquiring Infectious Media, a digital specialist based in London and Singapore with reach across EMEA.

The two companies plan to announce tomorrow that the Infectious name will be retired, becoming Kepler Group EMEA and Singapore, according to Kepler Group CEO Rick Greenberg and Infectious Media’s Martin Kelly, who becomes CEO of Kepler UK and APAC. The merger gives Kepler the global reach its clients, including American Express, Chubb, Fidelity Investments, HSBC and Deutsche Telekom, are asking for, said Greenberg. 

Digiday spoke with Greenberg and Kelly about Kepler’s offering, and the vulnerabilities it plans to exploit among not only the agency holding companies but other consultancies as well. This Q&A has been edited and condensed for clarity.

What drew Kepler to Infectious and how does that play into your global plans? 

Greenberg: It was based on interacting with senior marketers that were expressing frustration at hearing about all these amazing future-state marketing capability but weren’t seeing it pulled through in their marketing plans and from their agencies. So we figured we could solve that problem. I knew Martin and Andy [Cocker, COO of Kepler UK and APAC] from my days at MediaMath. What drew me to them was that similar feeling around a focus on client value — and on dispelling all the smoke and mirrors in the industry. 

Kelly:  We plotted a similar course to Kepler in the U.K. Andy and I came out of agencies and we saw the problems they had with technology, data and skillsets. We made a bet that there would be a different DNA needed for the future and we started Infectious to be that business. We’ve had millions of approaches over the years from holding companies and consultants. But when Rick picked up the phone, it didn’t feel like an acquisition — it felt like two businesses coming together to create more than the sum of its parts on the international stage. 

Agency holding companies have that global scale. What was your distinction? 

Greenberg: Both Martin and I have worked in holdcos, seen them at close range, and witnessed M&A in close range. They’re putting a lot of things together, but they’re really engineering around the financial equation, where we’re engineering around the value proposition. The typical holdcos buy a lot of assets and they operate as a network of assets that sit parallel to each other. Whereas we can deliver consistent client delivery standards, practices, technology, campaign setup and institutional knowledge in a seamless fashion

We are getting more involved with TV as TV becomes more platform- and data-driven. We’re the TV AOR for several clients, and even there we’re competing on agility and technology prowess and use of technology as opposed to sheer buying heft. But the reality is, the majority of our work is in digital, where buying heft is less important, and agility and client results are the dominant metric.

More companies are looking to take business from holdcos. Is it getting too crowded, and how do you stand out? 

Kelly: That space is [heating] up. But I also think we’re probably in the second phase of in-housing. The first phase was, get a DSP contract, see if you can trade and hope for the best. I think it’s more measured now. But within that, all advertisers — even if they’re taking elements in-house — need a partner to wrap around and take different parts of the process off them to help them make sure they’re on top of best practices. We encourage our clients to contract with media platforms. We don’t make any money from the media supply chain so we have a very transparent model that’s set out to work with any advertiser in any way they see fit, that benefits them.

What is the biggest weakness of the media agency world you feel you can take advantage of? 

Greenberg: One key point of differentiation is there are players in the ecosystem coming out of legacy holdco agency backgrounds that bring with them lots of smart people but also cumbersome processes and fee models and network models that don’t necessarily fit the bill for clients. Among the more emergent peers, whom we also have tremendous admiration for, client feedback that we’ve heard is they often don’t bring a true understanding of brand marketing. We went up against one of the preeminent new-breed consultancies for a major pitch. We won the pitch, and the feedback we got was, it was apparent both of us knew the technology and new-media landscape, but only we had actually executed transformation in a corporate environment. To be able to sit down next to your client and across from their CFO and explain to them in terms and tonality they can understand —how the marketplace is changing and why this is impacting their business the way it is, but also the advantages it brings — is a specific organizational capacity that most new-breed agencies don’t have.

Color by numbers

Advertiser Perceptions’ 2021 Trust Report shows that brands and agencies are getting more serious about where their ads run, through the prism of brand safety and responsibility.

More than four out of five (82%) of respondents said they apply corporate responsibility and brand values to media spending decisions, more than ever before. And 54% are committed to defunding disinformation by changing how and where they spend media budgets.

Fully 59% will now downgrade a media partner based on trust factors and 40% said they have already done so this year. Also, 79% of advertisers say that broad consumer platforms should be held more responsible for harmful content on their sites, including content posted by users.

Advertiser Perceptions interviewed 250 advertisers (34% marketer, 66% agency) in February.

Takeoff & landing

  • The Out-of-Home Advertising Association of America’s programmatic and automation committee, in partnership with the IAB Tech Lab, is working to integrate digital OOH media into the OpenRTB protocol for programmatic buying. The plan is to publish finalized specs for the DOOH industry to follow by end of 2021. 
  • Havas Media Group won media planning and buying for Land O’ Lakes dairy brands’ media business, while L.A.-based agency Battery will handle creative strategy and execution. 
  • Dallas-based independent digital media agency PMG hired its first chief people officer, Stacey Martin, who joined from transportation management firm Omnitracs.

Direct quote

“A common clean room is typically just a third-party location where data is pre-hashed and then combined for further analysis. So it typically requires a central safe location, which goes back to traditional clean rooms — you centralize your data somewhere. Obviously in that case, it’s requiring any participant of that clean room environment to trust that a third party is handling your data and taking on that control or position. Typically there are no privacy features beyond anonymization of the data, so just the basic hashing. In clean room instances, it’s typically limited to just two data sets.”

InfoSum North American president Lauren Wetzel, explaining what “clean-room technology” means.

Speed reading

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The 2021 Digiday Awards Shortlist

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The 2021 Digiday Awards Shortlist

New audiences, inclusivity and reemergence from quarantine became the backbeat of this year’s Digiday Awards shortlist

In what is still a time of uncertainty, with some parts of the world navigating a great reopening and other parts grappling with COVID-19 variants and limited vaccine access (or adoption), the nature of consumer behavior is constantly changing. However, digital media and marketing persist, and the nature of the ecosystems in which they work is now a part of the everyday fabric of the job. As always, the creative teams that drive campaigns for publishers and advertisers adapt. 

The latest installment of the Digiday Awards acknowledges the evolution of an industry, one that has not only transformed because of the pandemic and quarantines but one that has shifted in other profound ways as well. The sweeping calls for advocacy and inclusion have also shaped what the Digiday Awards judges have before them, in October 2021, as does an ongoing industry-wide shift to represent — and reach — younger demographics in the developing spaces they work and play (specifically, mobile and online games). 

Finalists found their gamers in 2021 campaigns

Take, for example, Excedrin, a double Digiday Awards finalist for Best Multi-Platform campaign and Best Strategy Pivot. Working with Weber Shandwick, the pain reliever’s program in 2021—  “Game Over for Headaches” — broke through to a new audience by leveraging influential streamers in the gaming space. Excedrin partnered with Twitch to create original content that spoke authentically to gamers. The outcome for the campaign was heightened earned coverage and positive consumer attention, and ultimately “Game Over” became the start of meaningful business results. 

To be sure, Mtn Dew is no stranger to gamers, with its “Game Fuel” slogan securely a part of console culture. As the PepsiCo brand worked with OMD, the media agency fused the caffeinated beverage with game influencer messaging that foregrounded authenticity and premium content. John Cena, professional wrestler and actor, helmed the launch of Mtn Dew Major Melon, the brand’s first new flavor in more than a decade, driving interest in the runup to the 2021 Super Bowl and highlighting in-game sweepstakes across every major social media channel. The campaign drove significant sales in Q1 and garnered OMD triple-finalist status in the Digiday Awards — Best Use of Influencer Marketing, Best Product Launch Campaign and Most Innovative Media Agency. 

Brands and media companies maintained the inclusivity beat

From deodorants to swimwear, from soft drinks to cinema, advertisers, media companies and their partners continued to push for expanded representation in their 2021 campaigns.

Degree showcased inclusive design that made its deodorant product accessible to people with different upper-limb abilities and differently sighted individuals. Their campaign told truthful and courageous stories and highlighted how other brands and companies could successfully implement similar changes to their product designs. The ‘Degree Inclusive’ campaign is shortlisted for Best Product Launch Campaign.

Amazon Studios connected with Imprint Projects and put voter suppression in the spotlight in 2021. ‘All In for Voting’ included documentary films, an experiential roadshow, and a multi-platform awareness campaign. It touched down at 55 brand-hosted voter registration events and 21 outdoor film screenings in disenfranchised communities. The effort earned Amazon and Imprint a spot among the finalists for Best Multi-Platform campaign.

Body inclusivity and alternatives to hyper-sexualized swimwear were the driving themes behind Summersalt’s ‘Every Body is a Summersalt Body’ campaign. Featuring two dozen accomplished women, the messaging showcased a spectrum of sizes, different sizes, backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, and sexualities to demonstrate that every single body belongs in a suit of its choosing. Summersalt is shortlisted for best Branding Campaign B2C in the Digiday Awards.

Finally, The Coca-Cola Company activated its Sprite brand to make a statement supporting social justice and Black Lives Matter. Partnering with Havas Atlanta, Moxi, and industry influencers, the program gave $50,000 to influencers to give to the causes of their choice. The brand also hosted a series of virtual performances by artists called “Sprite Way” — the shows also gave back, donating funds to independent performance venues via Save Our Stages. The campaign stands among finalists for Best Strategy Pivot.

As cities and travel reopened, campaigns centralized support and safety

With storefront businesses deeply impacted during quarantines, as HBO Max brought on-site film productions back online, they did so with an eye on helping local vendors benefit from having their locales featured on audiences’ screens. Dropping giant purple pins with QR codes near the stores filmed on and around locations for its film “In the Heights,” customers could scan the codes and redeem rewards from the local businesses. Complete with a micro-site to help people find the pins, the campaign wrapped with a spot on the Digiday Awards shortlist for Best Multi-Platform Campaign.

Expedia knows travel, and as the world cautiously returns to the roads, the air and destinations, the full-service travel site provided inspiration and tips to give travelers confidence in their plans. They also replicated superstar Joe Jonas’s hand and distributed 500 of the exact replicas for those who might need a little actual hand-holding on their first trip after quarantine. The campaign, in turn, handed Expedia a finalist spot for Best PR Campaign.

Check out the full shortlist below as we wait for the judges’ decisions on all the Digiday Awards finalists.

Best Creative

Tapjoy and Bully Pulpit Interactive – The Biden/Harris 2020 Presidential Campaign

Comedy Central

Verizon and Madwell – The Reset

Land Rover and Outside

twelvenote

Known and Shift4 – Inspiration4

Best Collaboration

SHISEIDO and Dentsu Inc. – “Camellia” The brand film we didn’t shoot

Pepsi, NFL and Roc Nation – Super Bowl LV Halftime Show

Genero and Nespresso – Nespresso Talents

Fox News Media and Tunnel to Towers Foundation – Memorial Day Special Branded Content

INNOCEAN USA and Hyundai Motor America – The Un-Adventurers

Digital Dominance and ResMed – Changing lives with every breath

Best Use of Social

Nomadic Agency – Capcom Resident Evil Village Alternate Reality Game

Courageous Studio – AT&T Forces of Change

Initiative – Gen Z chooses Rexona

eos products and Mischief @ No Fixed Address – Cooch Blessings Campaign

Febreze and M Booth – Bedazzling Millennials with a Kardashian Brand Fan

Campfire and The INKEY List – #AskINKEY Campaign

Best Use of Mobile

Buzzer

Tapjoy and Bully Pulpit Interactive – The Biden/Harris 2020 Presidential Campaign

Aki Technologies and Family Dollar

Insider – Rebranding with New Mobile App Launch

(General Mills) Nature Valley & Mindshare – Sensory Ads by RUMBLE

NTWRK

Best Use of Video

Known and TikTok – It Starts On TikTok

CarMax – “Pinch Me”

TV Land

CONVICTS

XX Artists – Ancestry’s Kidsplaining Series

Edelman and TAZO Tea (Unilever)

Best Use of Influencer Marketing – NEW

MG Empower and Bumble – #MyLoveIsBlackLove

Collab, OMD and PepsiCo – Late Night Tastebuds

eos products and Mischief @ No Fixed Address – Cooch Blessings Campaign

Zeno Group and Crest – Crest Whitening’s Beauty Breakthrough

MTN DEW GAME FUEL – 2020 Gaming Influencer Campaign

Known and TikTok – It Starts On TikTok

Best Product Launch Campaign

Barbarian and Fenty Beauty –  Fenty Eau De Parfum Ghost Stores

NYX Professional Makeup – Shine Loud High Shine Lip Color Launch

Accompany Creative – Launch of Nespresso Premium Single-Origin Coffee Portfolio

Signia & Griffin360 – Signia Active X hearing aid launch

Degree – Launch of Degree Inclusive

OMD and PepsiCo – Launch of Mountain Dew Major Melon

Best Branding Campaign B2B

Insider and ING – Transforming Business/Changemakers’ Playbook campaign

Oracle – Wall Street Journal Brand Advertising Campaign

Lycored – Nourishing connections

IDG and Domo – State of the CIO Data Dashboard

Trelleborg

Wistia – Show Business

Best Branding Campaign B2C

Movement Strategy and Klarna

SEEN Connects and Simply Be – Fit For An Icon

GSG and ASICS

Pepsi – Match Me if You Can

InvestingChannel – IG US CONTENT SERIES AWARD

Summersalt – “Every Body Is A Summersalt Body” Campaign

Best Multi-Platform Campaign

ViacomCBS

HBO Max – On Location

Movement Strategy and Looney Tunes

Evoke and Foundation Consumer Healthcare, Plan B One-Step

Imprint Projects and Amazon Studios – “All In For Voting”

Weber Shandwick & Excedrin (GSK Consumer Healthcare) – Game Over for Headaches

Best Search Campaign

Goodway Group and Anytime Fitness

Investis Digital and Happy Valley

In The Know Glossary

Terakeet and Leading Mortgage/Lending Company

January Digital for David’s Bridal

Adtaxi

Best Strategy Pivot – NEW

American Century Investments – #ACCFantasyGolf

Weber Shandwick & Excedrin (GSK Consumer Healthcare) – Game Over for Headaches

Havas Atlanta, Social Center (The Coca-Cola Company – North America), Moxie

Warm Street

Atlassian

Hubilo

Best Audio Campaign

Edelman & Good Humor (Unilever)

Velocity, ViacomCBS and LEGO® – Lego Friends Podcast

Nickelodeon and iHeartRadio – Avatar: Braving the Elements podcast

CBS News – My Life Of Crime Podcast

In The Know – We Should Talk

Best PR Campaign

Edelman & Dove (Unilever)

Expedia & Zeno Group – Lend A Helping Hand to Anxious Travelers

Weber Shandwick, Chicago – “Swim Heard Round the World”

Weber Shandwick, Chicago – American Pecans – Super Safe Pecan Debate

Movers+Shakers & e.l.f. Cosmetics – Chipotle Mexican Grill & DayOne Agency

The Martin Agency – UPS and J Balvin #JuntosImparables

Most Innovative Publisher

The Dodo

BDG

WAVE.tv

Dotdash

In The Know

Courageous Studios

Best Gaming/esports Campaign

In The Know Bowl

SHISEIDO, Dentsu Inc. – “Camellia” The brand film we didn’t shoot

BEN Group, Electronic Arts, and Velan Studios – Launch of “Knockout City”

Viral Nation – PUBG MOBILE Version Update Launch

Edelman & Edgewell Personal Care (Schick)

Enthusiast Gaming and TikTok – TikTok Gamers Greatest Talent

Most Innovative Media Agency

Known

Kyra Media

Canvas Worldwide

Sela, a PCA Group Company, and OZNaturals

m/SIX

OMD Worldwide

Most Innovative Brand

Pepsi – PepsiCo Beverages North America

Reverb – The Pedal Movie

Lycored – Nourishing Connections

Noom

NTWRK

Known and Shift4 – Inspiration4

Most Innovative Technology Platform

VidMob

Iterable

STN Video

Truthset

Intowow Yieldbooster

Premion

Most Innovative Independent Agency

Movers+Shakers

B-Reel

Imprint Projects

Klick Health

We are Rosie – Welcome To A New Way To Work

SEEN Connects

Leader of the Year

OS Studios – John Higgins, CEO

SEEN Connects – Sedge Beswick, Founder and Managing Director

Bev – Alix Peabody, Founder and CEO

Collectively – Ryan Stern, CEO

PepsiCo Beverages, North America – Greg Lyons, CMO

HUM Nutrition – Walter Faulstroh, Co-founder & CEO

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Adobe Photoshop finally comes to the browser, and Chromebooks

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Adobe Photoshop finally comes to the browser, and Chromebooks

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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The Rundown: Amazon steps up its courtship of brand advertising dollars at Unboxed

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The Rundown: Amazon steps up its courtship of brand advertising dollars at Unboxed

October 26, 2021 by Max Willens

As it continues to hunt for brand advertisers’ dollars, Amazon will try to act more like a social network while continuing to think like a marketplace.

The ecommerce giant today announced a clutch of new additions to its advertising ecosystem at Unboxed, the company’s third annual advertising conference. Many of the changes seem explicitly aimed at helping advertisers who are focused on driving brand awareness or consideration, rather than strictly sales. 

The key details:

  • The company launched Brand Metrics, a “self-service measurement solution” that allows advertisers to track how many people are considering their brand and how they stack up to competitors. It also launched a brand lift tool that allows marketers to create studies within Amazon DSP, then send them to a panel of opted-in Amazon shoppers. 
  • Amazon is also expanding the availability of its marketing cloud to all of its DSP customers. Those customers now have the ability to upload pseudonymized data sets to query alongside Amazon ad campaign data, using either custom queries or by choosing from a library of queries Amazon supplies DSP users.  
  • The Unboxed announcement included several ad formats that could help performance marketers too, including more interactive ads. For example, customers that hear an ad on Amazon Music through any Alexa-enabled device can ask the assistant software to send them more information about the product advertised; customers that see an ad on IMDBtv through Fire TV can now ask Amazon to send them more information.
  • Advertisers can now also buy sponsored display ads within Twitch livestreams.

Seeking trust signals

Many of the changes Amazon is making seem designed to boost its customers’ engagement with ads and brands.

In addition to the new ad products, Amazon’s announcement also included fresh promotion of its “follow” button, which Amazon began testing about six months ago in the U.S. Customers that follow brands within Amazon get notifications when the brand does things like stream live — brands may also have deals for followers surfaced to them on Amazon’s homepage. Amazon said there are 20 million follow relationships in place within its ecosystem; as of 2019, there were more than 2 million brands selling on Amazon, according to Marketplace Pulse.

While Amazon will need more people to actually begin following brands, it potentially solves for problems that many kinds of advertisers have long had with Amazon as a marketplace. “What Amazon does really well is drive down customer acquisition cost, but their lifetime value is atrocious,” said Ryan Flannagan, the CEO of Nuanced Media, a performance-focused media agency. “Playing with these types of things could improve that.”

If follower features and follower counts become more visible within Amazon over time, it should help customers and advertisers begin to think about brands within the platform differently.

“They’re layering on these brand metrics because they also want another gauge of credibility,” Flannagan said. “Right now, [shopping on] Amazon is a price play. If it becomes a brand play, that changes things.”

The store(front) of the future

The addition of the follow button also opens the door for merchants and brands to start treating their storefronts differently. “It’ll allow them to treat Amazon stores like their websites,” said Peter Vasilakos, director of digital marketplaces at Assembly. “They’re going for a social approach.”

Amazon’s embrace of social sends it back in the direction that large tech platforms are heading, albeit from the opposite direction, with Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are all adding more native commerce opportunities, and large retailers, including Walmart, looking to do more to grow their advertising ecosystems. “Everything is turning into a marketplace,” Vasilakos said. 

https://digiday.com/?p=430102

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