A sneak peak at the Philips ‘Real Time Marketing Center’

Tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny Philips faces the same chal­lenge as many oth­er organ­i­sa­tions with a rel­a­tive­ly tra­di­tion­al media approach. That is, los­ing peo­ple along the sales fun­nel, some­where between the ‘aware­ness’ and ‘con­ver­sion’ phas­es. The ques­tion remains as to how exact­ly big brand cam­paigns are delivering.

Lenze Boon­stra, mar­ket­ing direc­tor for the Philips Per­son­al Care divi­sion, wants to intro­duce a new start­ing point when it comes to mar­ket­ing with­in the organ­i­sa­tion. Chang­ing the fun­nel, rather than first rais­ing aware­ness through TV cam­paigns and lead­ing prospects all the way through to pur­chase, Boon­stra sees imme­di­ate con­ver­sion almost as a first step. Which is why, ear­ly last year, he set up a ‘Real Time Mar­ket­ing Cen­ter’ ded­i­cat­ed to social media engage­ment. Boon­stra spoke about the Cen­ter at Adobe Sym­po­sium in Ams­ter­dam Novem­ber last year.

“It’s point­less win­ning peo­ple over with big mar­ket­ing cam­paigns and pulling them through the sales fun­nel if it doesn’t result in con­ver­sion at the oth­er end. This is why every­thing we do at the Cen­ter is con­ver­sion-dri­ven. With the prin­ci­ple of social engage­ment, you’re meet­ing peo­ple half way through the fun­nel, where there’s real intent. That way, right from the start, you’re work­ing far more direct­ly towards con­ver­sion”, says Boonstra.

With a view to sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduc­ing the time to mar­ket, the focus is on real-time opti­mi­sa­tion of adver­tis­ing cam­paigns. Boon­stra con­tin­ues: “It all starts with reach. And work­ing with Face­book helps us increase our reach. In effect, Face­book rep­re­sents the world’s largest data­base, allow­ing us to tar­get very spe­cif­ic audi­ences at a frac­tion of the usu­al cost. Loca­tion, behav­iour and con­nec­tions offer enor­mous pos­si­bil­i­ties. Inter­nal­ly, a ded­i­cat­ed team is con­stant­ly opti­mis­ing the posts.”

An exam­ple. To pro­mote sales of the Amer­i­can Philips hair care brand, Norel­co, Boon­stra and his team decid­ed to use video adver­tis­ing. The video fol­lows New York bar­ber, Mark Bus­tos as he gives away free hair cuts to the home­less (see link below.) To stand out among the mass of Face­book posts, the renowned Bus­tos was cho­sen to exe­cute the stunt, which touched on an emo­tive theme. The fact that Bus­tos was using a Philips shaver was nev­er made explic­it in the storyline.

“Stage two in this approach is estab­lish­ing your tar­get audi­ence. We iden­ti­fied fif­teen tar­get groups based on a num­ber of cri­te­ria. As con­ver­sion remained the main premise, we focused on cities where our Ama­zon sales were already high. We know there is exist­ing inter­est in those areas, mak­ing them most like­ly to pro­duce new con­ver­sions, quick­ly. We also know that most con­ver­sion hap­pens on Mon­days and Tues­days. So if you want to lead peo­ple down the fun­nel, your first con­tact point would be some engag­ing con­tent on Wednes­day, fol­lowed-up with some prod­uct-relat­ed videos, and final­ly, on Mon­day, you offer a com­mer­cial­ly appeal­ing deal.”

“That’s when the real opti­mi­sa­tion starts — the heart of real-time mar­ket­ing”, says Boon­stra. It tran­spired that cer­tain sub-groups — whisky drinkers, and those liv­ing in Port­land — did not respond well to the cam­paign, while oth­ers — old­er age groups — respond­ed bet­ter than expect­ed. “We also learned that con­ver­sion took place pri­mar­i­ly on desk­tops, mean­ing that sub­se­quent re-tar­get­ing should be tai­lored accordingly.”

Face­book offers a use­ful tool in allow­ing you to reach not only those you are already tar­get­ing, but also their looka­likes; this enabled Boonstra’s team to reach over five mil­lion more men on top of the ini­tial 12 mil­lion tar­get­ed. Eleven mil­lion of these 17 mil­lion users viewed the video, with a sur­pris­ing 70% of traf­fic being organ­ic. The cost per view to the com­pa­ny equat­ed to just 1.5 Euro cents.

Tim­ing in Real Time Marketing

Two weeks before Father’s day, the team picked up on a short­age of traf­fic and decid­ed to launch a ban­ner cam­paign. What stood out, was that no less than 90% of con­ver­sions around this date were gen­er­at­ed by men, and not — as per the pre­dic­tions — by women. It became clear that focus­ing on peo­ple who were already famil­iar with the brand and the prod­uct was more lucra­tive when it came to con­ver­sion. Research revealed that review stars in a spon­sored mes­sage added to the time­line result­ed in fur­ther optimisation. Boonstra empha­sis­es the impor­tance of tim­ing and a mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary team for suc­cess. You need peo­ple who know the ins and outs of ana­lyt­ics, social, con­tent and media buy­ing like the back of their hand.

Get­ting results

Boon­stra con­tin­ues: “The great­est chal­lenge with this shift in think­ing is with­out doubt final­is­ing the busi­ness case. Since Jan­u­ary, we’ve reduced our costs per lead by 50%. We’re now oper­at­ing at 50% more effi­cien­cy thanks to con­stant opti­mi­sa­tion. Now we need to look into sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly up-scal­ing this form of real time mar­ket­ing for coun­tries like India and Japan. How exact­ly this will be achieved is yet to be deter­mined and some­thing we’ll be focus­ing on over the com­ing months”, says Boonstra.

The ulti­mate goal? Peak­ing with real-time mar­ket­ing instead of tra­di­tion­al media buying.

Boon­stra adds: “I want an end to unwieldy 360 degree cam­paigns. If we can demon­strate exact­ly what an invest­ment deliv­ers, then we can peak exact­ly at the right time, at the point where you’re lead­ing peo­ple through the sales fun­nel — in the run-up to Father’s day or Christ­mas, for exam­ple. Espe­cial­ly for younger tar­get groups, as an organ­i­sa­tion you need to be able to think from a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and con­ver­sion per­spec­tive. If you have oth­er resources, you can cross over into oth­er media. We real­ly should be doing things the oth­er way around.”