As Resy scales marketing post-Amex sale, its CMO is holding media in-house

Resy is also expanding its roster of branded events / Meredith Jenks

Nearly a year after its sale to American Express, restaurant reservation platform Resy plans to expand its marketing efforts in a bid to boost brand awareness. Its chief marketing officer plans to keep buying media in-house throughout it all.

Amex bought Resy back in July 2019. Acquiring the brand meant the finance co could offer its members dining experiences and benefits akin to those in its travel portfolio; conversely, it offered an undisclosed cash injection that would allow Resy to scale.

Chief marketing officer Victoria Vaynberg came on board from ABInBev just over a year before the deal went through. She spent the past year building Resy from a proprietary CRM software package with a logo into a fully formed brand with design guidelines, a marketing plan and a supplier-friendly lead-in line: ‘Discover restaurants to love.’

“We have a really behind-the-scenes, insider lens in the industry – we are real partners with the restaurants,” said Vaynberg. “We're not a media company. We're not dependent on ad revenue. And that’s nice for us because we're not here to write reviews and critique partners.

“We're here to share who the restaurants are, their stories and why you should go dine there.”

Now, with the support of Amex, she is ready to launch Resy’s first paid media blitz. Aside from hosting an expanded raft of foodie events under the banner of ‘Resy-curated experiences’, the platform is investing in brand awareness campaigns across a number of local markets nationally.

“That’s really going to expand, and that's where the Amex component helps,” she said. “We're really going to be scaling this year, so you can expect to see more standard marketing campaigns and more brand advertising going forward.

“Women of Food and Off Menu Week are also our two signature [events] series and because they are national, they’re also treated as brand campaigns.”

Vaynberg is a digital marketer through-and-through, so it’s perhaps unsurprising she began Resy’s first foray into media buying without the help of an agency. Yet despite the growth of her team, her budget and the company’s targets, she’s finding the need to be prudent with ad spend lends itself to the in-house model.

“At ABI, we had massive digital budgets and I could play around on any platform. We don't have that luxury,” she said. “When your budgets are small you want to use them really wisely, so to be able to have end-to-end control is really helpful.

“We probably lose some savings but ... media agencies prioritize the big brands for savings anyway. And of course, we have people at Facebook and Google who we can ask for help along the way.”

Vaynberg’s goal for 2020 is to make a splash in digital video – a platform Resy has, so far, shied away from. A video “anthem” that aims to clearly establish Resy’s brand is currently in the works.

She’s also pushing her team to be “much more precise in our segmentation” and become more vigilant when it comes to watching where programmatic spend is going. Meanwhile, the thoroughly digital Vaynberg has been surprised by how much time she’s spent buying out-of-home.

“We did billboards with a brand awareness campaign in Chicago in early 2019 and now it's one of our top markets,” she said. “So, I guess you have to argue it works.”

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