Cannes Lions: Shell Lacks Faith In Display Ad Creative

americo-shellTalking about data feels a bit transgressive in Cannes, where creativity is literally center stage. But with data driving so much change at agencies – including at creative shops – it seems an unavoidable topic.

It came up frequently in a conversation on Tuesday with Americo Campos Silva, Shell's Global Media Manager, and Sasha Savic, CEO of its agency, MediaCom USA.

"There's much more of it," Silva told AdExchanger. "The difficult piece is to prioritize what you really need to know, what is nice to know, and what you didn't want to know – but it came to your desk anyway."

Shell has worked with MediaCom since 2005, and the ratio of its digital spend is now about 20%. It varies by product type, with corporate-level media spend reflecting the highest share of digital investment at 35 to 40%, and local market spending hovering at 15 to 20%.

But Silva doesn't think much of display ad effectiveness. "Ads are served in the wrong geographies, or below the fold. Sometimes there are technical mistakes," he said. "Video is more attractive, if it works and has sound."

To combat these issues, Silva said, Shell started using ad verification software last year. It's "not perfect, but it helps us with control of campaigns. And it helps us understand some issues with publishers that allow us to make very objective complaints."

The company has also moved to a single ad server at the global level across campaigns, to further enhance control and simplicity.

"It has been a journey of consolidation," he said of the last eight years or so of the agency's media strategy. That consolidation began in 2005, when Shell went "all in" in with WPP-owned MediaCom. "Now is the moment of technology consolidation."

For its part, MediaCom employs about 100 data scientists and analytics pros, a combination of people sitting in MediaCom and others within the GroupM family, which also includes MEC, Mindshare, and Xaxis.

Looking beyond the petroleum-marketing vertical,  the company has designed real-time data applications for clients in the auto and pharma industries. For one pharma client, it is developing a model to measure outbreaks of diseases, flu, and allergies across the United States. Daily data from search and social media will help this customer understand how many people are suffering in specific geographies and then boost media -- and product -- delivered to those regions.  The supply chain integration is a work in progress, said MediaCom USA CEO Savic.

Savic, previously with Havas, said the agency prides itself on its interoperability with other GroupM companies and WPP's creative and digital agencies such as Wunderman, Grey, and Possible. The company has been texting Xaxis in 12 markets globally.

"Almost everything we need exists in different forms and shapes [within WPP]," said Savic. "It's a matter of how do you set the systems that are collaborative enough."

He continued, "Sometimes campaigns end up looking like a Christmas tree … all these shiny objects. The question is how do you get that in a space that will make strategic thought clear and simple."

 

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