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Trust, discipline and candor: how HP and PHD are using the client-agency relationship to tackle complexity

HP says its agency has been essential in its move into programmatic

HP has experimented with using data to power personalised display ads and, while the campaign has increased its return on investment (ROI), the lessons in how to manage complexity in digital advertising have been almost as valuable.

The promise of data-led advertising, while technologically viable, has been hampered by the complexities that arise with getting such projects off the ground. Lots of options around who to work with, and in what capacity, has led many brands to question its relationships with partners.

HP’s campaign wanted to address the fact that the reasons for buying printer ink were incredibly varied and often price-driven. In order to put HP front of mind, it wanted to use data to really understand and answer the ‘I need a refill’ moment at the right time. The campaign needed the efforts from its media agency (PHD), creative agency (Gyro) and Google, in order to make it work.

However, Joel Lee Panugayan, head of marketing, APJ home printing systems and supplies at HP, said getting a complicated project off the ground was largely due to the value its agency created.

On being asked how it dealt with myriad moving parts, Panugayan, said: “Mostly through our media agency - they are the central link to everything and everyone that we needed to make it work.”

Adding that in order to allow his agency such merits, as a client you need “trust, discipline and candor.”

Around 57 audience segments were created and over 200 creatives produced. Instead of showing off the product, the messaging was tailored to needs. For example, photography-related creative was shown to a segment called ‘shutterbugs’, with the headline, “To capture the perfect landscape, it takes 36,000 drops of ink per second.”

The personalisation of the ads happen programmatically, driven by DoubleClick Bid Manager, which used third-party data from BlueKai, Google’s affinity segments, and lookalike models off of HP’s first-party data.

Panugayan said that complexity wasn’t actually what was feared by marketers but the idea of it not going to plan: “It's not the complexity that hinders but the minute chance of things not taking off. Thus there should be a solid commitment from all parties that no matter how complex, so long as everyone is committed to see it through, there's no reason to fear complexity.”

Beth Hill, programmatic planning director at PHD, said: “The success of the project is the result of true collaboration between all stakeholders – we’re all working towards a common goal and are committed to achieving it. If either the client, creative agency, tech partner or agency leads aren’t present and invested, a project like this is unlikely to succeed.”

According to the results, using these tactics drove a 2.5x increase in click-through rate (CTR) vs. standard banner ads, a +55% higher conversion rate (CVR) vs standard banner ads and a 3x increase in revenue per impression (RPM).

In terms of what is next, Panugayan, said it’s changed the way that HP briefs the agency and the business will take the lessons out to other markets that may want to do similar campaigns: “the upcoming challenge is how to scale it up and reduce planning times. Initial results are definitely encouraging, but while we're happy with results we still want to push the limits on how far we could go. It's redefining how we do briefing and to some level, even redefining how we operate, given the potential for optimization is not just at a country level.”

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