The Modern Marketer: A Case Study

I’ve attended my fair share of Advertising Week events over the years, but last week marked my first time in NYC.  To be honest, I usually get a bit snarky and want to turn my nose up at these kind of industry events. I may even start picking holes in the agenda, telling myself that “it’s not worth attending as it’s just a way for the industry to stroke their own egos” or “all the themes seem the same as last year.”

But each year I leave Advertising Week feeling inspired and motivated to push myself and my agency to do better. I drink the Kool-Aid—I just can’t help it. Still, I wondered if #AWNewYork could even come close to the advance hype. 

On multiple stages located in iconic venues around Manhattan, some of the brightest leaders from the marketing and entertainment industry were set to share their visions, passions and practices throughout the week. So I was thrilled when I was asked to speak with one of my clients, Avis Budget Group, on the Adara Stage. We presented “The Modern Marketer: A Case Study to showcase how a travel brand, such as Avis, can stand out in the highly saturated, competitive and disrupted travel landscape and evolve with its consumers.  And the answer, of course, was data. 

The conversation focused on how my agency, SYZYGY, combined technology, data and creative to engage and convert incremental users for Avis Budget Group. Maybe not a very sexy topic compared to seeing Mark Cuban or McDonald's USA CMO Deborah Wahl on stage at Town Hall, but an important one for the modern marketer. In our session, we tried to give the audience a realistic view of the good, the bad and the ugly in actually using this martech combination.

Here are three insights that sparked the most interest from the audience.

  1. Find the bright spots

To me, the most valuable attribute of implementing a programmatic program is both the quality of data harvested, and if done well, the actionable insights. The most basic of programmatic tactics collects up to 30 data points in a single user cookie.  And that’s only the start.  With all of this data at your fingertips, it’s tempting to look for what’s not working so you can remove or optimize quickly. But instead, I urge you to flip this process on its head and only look for the “bright spots”—those micro-audience segments and data points that are actually moving the needle for your brand. Although small and sometimes slow to start, a “bright spot” that’s nurtured can bring attention to an insight that you would not have otherwise.  In the case with Avis, a completely new audience segment was found that will continue to grow incrementality for their business in the US.

  1. Let your customer choose the creative

And not just choose it, but dictate it. Now that you have found the bright spots in your data set, widen your view to see the context in which it sits. Utilize your data tools and technologies (such as onsite analytics, social media monitoring and ad serving stack) to see where your user is spending time within your owned channels and what they are saying about it.  Lean on your brightest and most curious analytics talent (or make hiring some a top priority) to help identify what imagery, messaging, products, offers and types of content you should be testing.  Then tap your most organized team member (you know, that project manager or strategist who kind of scares you a little bit) to incorporate these insights into a content testing strategy.  Dynamic creative tools such as Jivox do a fantastic job of helping an agency team plan the full data-lead creative strategy.

  1. Personalization: Stop talking and start walking

We all talk a lot about how personalized communication to consumers garners higher conversion rates, more quality engagement and increased brand loyalty. But what does that really mean in terms of best practices? From my experience working with travel and retail brands, I believe personalization is both under-utilized and could be deployed in more effective ways. In other words, using your data and technology to put someone’s name on an email blast is table stakes at this point … and also outdated if done in silo. The brands who are winning not only connect personalization across device and channels, but they use technology to make the customer feel valued. Instead of just reminding me what I left in my purchase basket, also give me road trip ideas because the weather is going to be fantastic over the next seven days. (You know this because you have a weather API imbedded in your datafeed.)

So, another Advertising Week is in the books. Overhyped? Definitely. Valuable? Without a doubt.  And I’m proud to have been part of the hard work and sincere effort put into raising the level of knowledge among industry practitioners. Long live Advertising Week.


By Megan Harris, Managing Partner, SYZYGY