Why Exverus’ head of strategy is marrying performance with brand in programmatic

This article is part of a series covering our Programmatic Marketing Summit. More from the series →

There’s been a pendulum swing in the marketing industry, where marketers who were overly focused on performance have started investing in brand building — via streaming, audio and experiential — to stand out in the crowded digital marketplace. 

This has meant updating KPIs and client expectations when it comes to measuring campaign effectiveness, which is exactly why independent boutique agency Exverus Media is reshaping what KPIs look like in streaming, audio and experiential channels that aren’t necessarily direct response channels.

“Where the industry is going, what we’re seeing from all of our marketing clients is that they’re being held to increasingly revenue-focused metrics,” Talia Arnold, managing director at Exverus, said on stage at the Digiday Programmatic Marketing Summit in Palm Springs, California, on Wednesday. “How do we set up a measurement plan and KPIs that we can take action against and that go back to proving out a business outcome?”

It’s a pivot from the traditional train of thought, in which television and video were expected to solely drive brand metrics. Meanwhile, things like display ads would drive ROI-focused sales metrics. Now, Exervus is tasked with marrying the two to show clients that the proof is in the pudding.

“What we’re really trying to do within the firm is bring those worlds together by using different methodologies, different buying tactics, different measurement solutions to really prove out that those things necessarily work together,” Arnold said.

To tie brand media to performance media, and ultimately provide that proof that advertisers are looking for, Exverus is redefining what KPIs and measurements show campaign effectiveness. When a brand does brand building activities, as opposed to focusing on “click here, buy now” direct response ads, they’re “reaching people in all the ways that they need to be influenced in their brains that the results are undoubtedly better and a lot better,” said Arnold.

One strategy that Exverus leverages is looking at user behavior online, otherwise known as URL mapping or URL analysis. A shopper sees a video ad, but there won’t be a conversation at that point. What the agency can do, however, is analyze online shopper behavior to see if there was follow up after a shopper saw an ad, whether through search, direct interaction with the website, etc., to get a better sense of measurement and attribution.

“Now we can actually prove [it]. That’s the only thing that’s different, is now that we’re doing these other activities that are fueling new demand, driving more people into the ecosystem to convert and buy,” Arnold said.

Notably, more programmatic media buying has opened up in these spaces. For example, this week, Netflix announced that it was expanding its programmatic roster, in which The Trade Desk, Google’s DV360 and Magnite would join Microsoft as the streaming platform’s main programmatic partners. Netflix’s move follows the footsteps of other streaming services like Disney, perhaps proving a trend that’s not expected to slow anytime soon. Thus, marking the importance of marrying performance and brand.

Arnold said this can also prevent wasted ad dollars by offering a more holistic view. For example, if a campaign test proves that display ads are 10 times more effective when a video ad preceded it, tweak the media mix to eliminate the less effective ads and save a few bucks.

“That’s a way we can look at [it]. This conversion lift, these sequential actions are so much more effective that it actually means we can spend less on the other ads that don’t have that user path,” Arnold said.

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