Display Planning - The Dave Brailsford Way!
Coming down to earth from the bump of a glorious, heart swelling, show-stopping Olympic Games has been hard for the whole of the nation, and for many nations beyond our shores.
Each of us has a favourite moment, and a favourite team from London 2012 that we will forever stay in our hearts and minds, that we will remember due to their own version of success. For me (and this is only my view) it is the track cyclists that have impressed me most, accounting for the number of world records smashed and participants versus gold tallies.
Our infamous British 'Superbikers', won 7 out of 10 possible track golds in the Pringle shaped Velodrome, led by the now-infamous Dave Brailsford.
Much has been made of what lies beneath the track team's success. If you hadn't heard of Dave Brailsford before London 2012, you most certainly will have now. The most revered sports performance director of our time is tipped for knighthood due to the design of his rivalled, but never bettered Olympic Programme, centred around the notion of aggregated 'marginal gains'.
His philosophy has been developed through a combination of academic learning (MBA from Sheffield), data driven decision making (focus on time not position) and an open approach to taking the best ideas from other sports and disciplines, customising them to suit cycling (pre-race heated leg warmers taken from F1s warm tyre strategy is a well-known example). His philosophy was successful in creating the sum of small parts advantage, that when collectively applied, delivered considerable competitive advantage.
When interviewed on the BBC during the Gold rush of week 2, Brailsford admitted that his philosophy can be applied to any sport and any competency, not just cycling. His approach to looking at the individual, the environment and technology rings true for much of what we do within our own industry and what we should be doing for our own clients and their respective brands.
I look at this from the perspective of Display, where the need for marginal gains has never been more important as the prevalence of RTB grows and client verticals become increasingly consolidated. As an agency representing household brands and start-up ventures, our commitment to thinking using a combination of academic learning, data driven decision-making and an element of out of the box thinking is what defines our worth to clients. Breaking this down into features of display, there are a whole host of individual tactics agencies should continuously be testing in the quest for marginal gain increases (CTR, CTS, and Sales). Some of these will have greater and lesser influence, depending on the brand, vertical and seasonality. The list should never be static. Here are a very small handful of my own:
- Find new ways to buy media from staple publishers. Trial Hybrid.
- Test a month using media owner direction only, not your own.
- Regularly evaluate DSP buys by level of programmatic versus manual intervention.
- Periodically rest core advertisers. You'll only know their worth when you do.
- Test 1st party data modelling from different touch points in the P2P, not just confirmation page.
- Use data visualisation tools to demonstrate maths concepts. People will get it quicker.
- Trial retargeting with 3rd party data. Trial without.
- Regularly re-evaluate client's own audience dynamics against previous versions. Update targeting throughout.
- Co-ordinate and contrast image background with set placements.
- Trial brand with and without logo, undertake small creative tests that are completely off-brand. See what resonates.
- Match default gif to best performing flash creative. Rotate regularly.
- Steal creative tone and design ideas from desirable brands in other sectors, and adjust for you.
- Follow brand sentiment online - personalise a creative media response and, if successful, use creative elsewhere.
- Use Google weekly trends to inform consumer behaviour across your whole buy.
- Swap TV and Display brand budgets for one month. Evaluate conversion and brand uplift.
- There are many more ideas, but I'm saving them for our own clients!
In addition to individual tactics, we should of course, be valuing and nurturing the individual (the brand), working with it in the long term to drive maximum performance that endures as well as peaks.
Brailsford's approach combines commitment, meticulous planning, and a rider centred philosophy. Importantly, this comes from a combination of longer term financial commitment and an understanding of the marginal gain investments required around the rider to support them at key times of the year/month. With display, this also rings true. We need to constantly prove that investment up the funnel will drive consideration further down, and that the right level and intensity of coverage relative to the brand ensures it does peak at e.g. Xmas time. As always we can't look at the channel in isolation, but consider it among the greater planning function as both a driver and converter of demand.
In the Keirin, Sir Chris Hoy produced an extra kick on the final bend to dismiss the challenge of rival Maximillian Levy, peaking at exactly the right time to ensure victory. His success can be directly correlated with the level and intensity of training done in the months building up to the games, having been scientifically mapped and quantified by Team GB sports scientists. Partner this intensive training with the effect of marginal gains and you have solid gold. Approach Display using this same strategy and you should succeed in understanding your brand and consumers better, implementing strategies that beat your nearest rivals and achieve 1st place.