Success not to be sneezed at: Telfast's pollen trigger machine explained
Foundation Australia and Sanofi Consumer Healthcare Australia have won the Healthcare and Pharma category at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising. Here is the award-winning case study.
In the highly competitive allergy market, with a limited ‘allergy season’ from September to December, budget matters to drive mental availability and sales. Yet Telfast was being significantly out-gunned by competitors with deeper pockets – to win the season, they had to out-smart them instead.
Telfast did this by creating a ground-breaking predictive trigger model, allowing them to serve ads only when they mattered most – when allergies struck. Not only could they reach allergy-sufferers when they needed relief, Telfast even knew when allergies would strike before their audience did, and could tailor the campaign accordingly. Together with a range of other data-driven tactics, Telfast was able to laser target their campaign to the people and moments that would have most impact.
By doing this, Telfast was able to win the allergy season – all on a much smaller budget than their rivals. They were the number one antihistamine brand in the 2022 allergy season, growing at 1.5X the market. Now that’s success not to be sneezed at!
The allergy category in Australia is highly competitive, however Telfast set themselves a lofty goal to win the allergy season in 2022 (defined at delivering #1 market share during the allergy season of September – December). This challenge was particularly tough as Telfast is consistently outspent by its closest rival Zyrtec. In such a commoditised product category, mental availability is the key battle ground – which gives those with deeper pockets a significant advantage. If we were unable to outspend them, our only option was to out-smart them – we needed a more innovative and tactical approach to make our limited spend work harder.
Our insight was simple. For most of the time, even during the season, allergy sufferers don’t care about antihistamines – it’s a low interest category that represents a pain-point in their lives. However, when symptoms strike this completely changes – they need relief in that moment as soon as possible. We therefore needed to find a way to target allergy sufferers in the moments that mattered i.e., when they are experiencing symptoms and need relief. However, targeting these moments through media has been impossible so far, as there are no off-the-shelf solutions or data sets for activation. It’s a category problem, which no one had solved before. We had to find a way to do the impossible…
First, we analysed all the data sets currently available. Pollen count data is only available in real time - meaning attempts to use this data to activate against advertising campaigns was impossible. Additionally, there are very few official pollen counting stations nationally, leading to lack of targeting granularity within key markets. With no existing data sets we could use, we set out to build a bespoke trigger model that could draw on multiple signals to predict when pollen counts would be high, and therefore when allergy sufferers would most likely be experiencing symptoms. Our solution was to combine a range of data points in one model, including location, weather, wind and topography. In combination, these signals would enable us to predictively model when pollen counts would be high, and therefore target our advertising where it would be most effective. With this pollen data now powering our custom trigger, it was connected to an API within our DSP (DV360). This enabled us to activate high-impact display and video to go live 7 hours ahead of time based on the forecast pollen levels. This also overcame the challenge of latency between activation of a campaign in our DSP and the activity delivering at scale when pollen counts were high. Across the eastern seaboard of Australia, based on current and future pollen levels - the pollen trigger automated campaign activation and deactivation across 12 individual regions. This meant we could make our limited budget work as hard and efficiently as possible, and enabled Telfast to reach allergy sufferers when they were likely to be experiencing symptoms and would therefore be most receptive to our message. To date, no other allergy brand has been able to do this in Australia.
To support this activity, we needed to use all available data to ensure our activity was as focused as possible on allergy sufferers. We worked with multiple partners to target allergy prone audiences as well as health care professionals (a key source of recommendation), based on their interests and browsing behaviour. We partnered with Criteo to target purchase behaviour in the biggest antihistamine retailer in Australia Chemist Warehouse – the first time this had been done in the category. We also used Flybuys and Cartology data to target those buying through supermarkets, to ensure we covered all purchase channels and maximised reach of antihistamine buyers. Finally, we used Telfast’s own first party data, gathered through a cashback promotion, to target known buyers and their lookalikes, to maximise repeat purchase over the season. All of this was supported with a multi-media approach including TV, online video, digital audio, search and social, to ensure we didn’t miss any potential buyers over the season and maximise saliency.
Against the odds, Telfast was successful in winning the 2022 allergy season – the #1 antihistamine brand for both sales volume and value! The campaign and dynamic data-driven approach helped increase market share, growing the brand at x1.5 the market. Further to this, we saw the campaign deliver significant uplift in all key brand metrics. Awareness and consideration among allergy sufferers reached record highs of 87% and 77% respectively (up from 83% and 74% the year prior). Crucially this put Telfast ahead of Zyrtec on both measures, who’s awareness and consideration stayed static. To make this result even more impressive, competitive pressure from Zyrtec actually increased year on year – with their main rival outspending Telfast by 20%. We are confident that success was driven by the campaign, as no other significant factors changed –there were no major changes to promotions or distribution over the season and no significant shift in competitor activity. In summary, Telfast won the 2022 allergy season by finding a ground-breaking data-driven solution that allowed us to achieve the previously impossible. Our innovative approach unlocked growth ahead of the competition, despite being significantly outspent, and allowing us to achieve our lofty objective – the #1 allergy brand in Australia.