Volkswagen wanted to be a more efficient and data-driven advertiser, but felt it lacked an objective partner to help it optimize media investments.
“Our management was a little bit uncomfortable with our media agency managing metrics that would tell them we needed more TV, radio or whatever,” said David Galbraith, GM of brand management and performance at Volkswagen. “You can see the logic. I don’t think we’re alone in having that concern.”
Volkswagen didn’t have the bandwidth to take its analytics in-house, so it sent out an RFP for an agency that could use its data to understand and optimize media investments.
“We [weren’t] using all of our data the way we should’ve been and we didn’t have a centralized repository for it,” Galbraith said.
MXM, the in-house digital agency at Meredith, won the account. It was tasked with building and operating a media ROI (MROI) tool that would ingest data from Volkswagen’s agency and third-party data partners and measure investments across channels and brands. Volkswagen would receive weekly and monthly lookback reports as well as sales forecasts three months out.
“Our advertising budget is tied to sales volumes, so we’re looking for efficiencies,” Galbraith said. “We always felt we were a little bit blind to whether or not we were going to hit our plan.”
It took three months for MXM to build the MROI tool, audit Volkswagen’s data partnerships to trim the fat and onboard its data onto the platform.
A centralized reporting tool made it easier for Volkswagen’s agency partners to work off the same insights, Galbraith said. Corralling agencies around the tool was challenging at first, but became easier when Volkswagen provided its media agency with direct logins to the platform.
“We worked really hard to get the analytics team to sit down with the planners,” he said. “We really had to Band-Aid that together.”
A publisher-owned agency may seem like an odd choice for an analytics AOR, but MXM isn’t a content studio. As a digital agency, it does web and app development and manages CRM and email marketing for clients like Kraft.
“[We] look at them as more of a consultant,” Galbraith said. “They have a surprising level of depth around how to analyze the tactics, versus just purely saying, ‘Here’s the data, go figure it out yourselves.’”
While working with MXM has helped Volkswagen better visualize, understand and optimize its marketing investments holistically, it also gives the advertiser more control over its data and reporting, and peace of mind that its money isn’t being spent in anyone’s best interest but its own.
“MXM is a neutral entity,” Galbraith said. “They have no skin in the game or desire to mislead us."