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Media Buying Briefing: How a medical insights company is shaping media planning and buying with its data

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In the age of COVID, the more health-related information a marketer has access to, the better.

Kinsa, a health tech company that’s created a connected thermometer, is using data feedback to inform media plans from health marketers and their agencies to ramp up its enterprise side of the business. The company has helped multiple health-related brands, from cold and flu medications to tissue makers, optimize their media spend, working directly with the brands as well as their media agencies. Kinsa is also selling its insights to retailers getting into the media sales business — and which one isn’t these days?

I spoke with Kinsa’s cmo Andy Yost as well as vp of data science John Zicker about their work with brands, agencies and retailers.

The following has been edited for clarity and condensed for space.

What makes Kinsa’s data different?

Andy Yost: What’s unique about us is our predictive real-time illness insights allow us to work with consumer packaged goods brands to fuel smarter business decisions around media planning, but also around supply-chain management decisions. It allows them to get ahead of where illness is striking and take action quickly. An early strategic advantage for us over others is our ability to collect three key data sets: where illness starts — people who are using our product before going to the doctor; how fast illness is spreading; and understanding illness severity. Those three unique inputs have really helped us create a very interesting and compelling offering for enterprises, like the packaged goods industry.

With whom do you share that data, and what’s the process for sharing it? 

Yost: There’s a range of ways that we’re working with consumer packaged goods companies. We identify the brands that this is most relevant to cold and flu [remedy] manufacturers, talking to CMOS and brand managers of those companies. We also work with their agencies, particularly around media spend and media optimization. And we’re having conversations with retailers, which are working with these brands to make sure that products are on the shelves where illness is spiking. It’s also led us to interesting partnerships with players like The Trade Desk, where we’re able to help our brands and our agency partners make more effective decisions around their media spend.

How do you gather the data and make it ready for prime time for brands and agencies? 

John Zicker: We’re collecting information in the household at the time of need, which all marketers really care about. Somebody feels feverish, they grab the thermometer, and then it opens up a conversation where we collect other symptoms — cough, headaches, chills, body aches, those types of things. Using that, we then can combine it and match that up with whatever [brand or marketer] we’re working with. The other thing is, unlike publicly available data about illness, we aggregate that into DMAs, which [is] how marketers think — as opposed to the whole state or the whole nation. So it’s better targeting.

What brands have you specifically helped? And how did your data impact their media? 

Yost: [Reckitt Benckiser’s ]Mucinex is a good example in terms of our ability to partner with a brand and subsequently their media planning aspects of what they were doing for the business. It played out in a couple of different ways. One, there was incremental sales lift [81 percent, according to a Kinsa case study] that we saw for people who are new to the brand after running digital ads in the areas that we were seeing illness rise. There was also incremental sales lift that we were seeing in test-and-control groups with our audience versus audiences in general. So overall, we were able to prove the effectiveness of the hyperlocal aspect of this. We are able to help brands make decisions faster about the investments they need to make, which ultimately leads to either improved sales performance and/or savings in terms of their investment in media.

What is the revenue play here? 

Yost: Our overall mission is around helping curb the spread of infectious illness through early detection and early response. We’ve built this system within the past 10 years that does have the thermometer aspect to it, but it also has this important insights business. There are monetization opportunities, both on the consumer and the enterprise side related to that.

Color by numbers

A study of 3,021 women commissioned by Omnicom Media Group and Dotdash Meredith and conducted by The Harris Poll identified what it dubs “The Future Majority” — a cohort composed primarily of Black, Latina, Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) and LGBTQIA women under 40. This growing group has strong opinions brands and agencies might want to pay attention to, including: 

  • 75% of survey respondents agreed with the statement: “I can’t name more than 5 brands that I have a deep or intimate relationship with (i.e., a brand that ‘gets me’)”;
  • Another 34% of respondents have already walked away from brands that do not align with their values;
  • Some 64% say, “I’d rather pay a little more to buy from a company that aligns with my values, than pay less to buy from a company that doesn’t”;
  • Even scarier, 81% report experiencing direct or indirect discrimination in the last 18 months.

Takeoff & landing

  • Omnicom, Comscore, VideoAmp and Discovery Networks are banding together to create new currencies for TV measurement in advance of this year’s upfront marketplace. Separately, VideoAmp said it will use viewership data from Comcast’s cable footprint (at last count some 18.5 million) to its cross-platform measurement service. 
  • Stagwell had a busy week: Not only did the holding company enter into affiliate partnerships with three African agencies (digital shop Incubeta, media shop SBI Media, and PR firm Orient Planet Group), it officially rebranded the merged Assembly/PMX Forward media unit under the Assembly name and rolled out a new logo. 
  • Personnel moves: Erica Hoholick was promoted from president/COO to CEO of independent agency 22Squared.

Direct quote

“If you look at all of linear TV, that’s now moving across to streaming apps and platforms, but currently, there’s only limited amounts of that that you can buy programmatically. There’s a few reasons for that, as a lot of publishers are worried about their [advertising] yield, they’ve held back their best inventory [from programmatic trading] because they’ve been concerned around being paid fairly for that … They’re concerned their inventory will fall to the bottom of an auction, and they won’t get paid well by the inventory landing on an auction that’s outside of their control. At the same time, you also have clients that don’t spend as much as they should programmatically, as they’re concerned about what they pay and where their money lands.”

— GroupM’s global head of investment, Andrew Meaden, explaining the rationale for creating a new programmatic marketplace, which the media network announced last week.

Speed reading

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