Zipcar on Why Automated Ad Buying Doesn't Cancel Out Brand-Publisher Relationships - eMarketer
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Zipcar on Why Automated Ad Buying Doesn't Cancel Out Brand-Publisher Relationships


Jay Burke
Director of Digital Marketing
Zipcar

With the growth of programmatic advertising, it’s easier than ever for brands to buy ads, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t spend time building strong relationships with publishers. Jay Burke, director of digital marketing at Zipcar, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about why advertising technology and human relationships with publishers are not mutually exclusive, and how the company has found balance between the two.

eMarketer: What metrics are important for measuring the success of a campaign?

Jay Burke: At Zipcar, we’re continually trying to deepen our understanding of campaign performance beyond metrics like cost per acquisition [CPA] and return on investment [ROI]. We’re trying to understand our members more holistically to determine their overall impact and opportunity for the business. We use this insight to attract members who will become the most active and engaged.

eMarketer: What are publishers doing to help brands get the most from their ad spend?

Burke: A perpetual challenge for most publishers is competing with ad networks that offer sophisticated targeting while delivering scale and efficiency. The more that publishers can customize and differentiate their offerings, and focus on building a valued partnership with brands, the more they’ll stand out. Native advertising is a step in this direction, but it’s only the first step.

“We’ve also learned through attribution modeling that programmatic works best when reinforced by the right level of awareness-raising branding investment.”

eMarketer: Is programmatic ad buying helping or hurting brands?

Burke: We invest heavily in programmatic for both web and mobile acquisition campaigns. We find it to be an increasingly important piece of our overall marketing mix, as it delivers the type of scale and efficiency that’s hard to find elsewhere.

One of the keys to making programmatic work is ensuring that our instrumentation and targeting, as well as our messaging and ad creative, stay true to the Zipcar brand. We’ve also learned through attribution modeling that programmatic works best when reinforced by the right level of awareness-raising branding investment.

eMarketer: Will the pendulum swing away from ad tech toward more direct interactions with publishers, or is that an obsolete idea?

Burke: Fortunately, this isn’t a zero-sum game affecting digital decision-makers. There’s great value in maintaining separate direct relationships with key publishers, but we continue to invest aggressively in the forms of ad tech that help deliver greater scale and higher efficiency.

We find that direct publisher relationships help reinforce the value and authenticity of the Zipcar brand with focused segments of potential customers in a way that most ad tech struggles to do.

“It’s strategically important for us to develop authentic original content, and it’s a big differentiator.”

eMarketer: How are brands valuing content? What takes precedent: the platform, the publisher or the content itself?

Burke: Content is an area where authenticity is paramount. Provided we stay true to our brand and our value proposition, and deliver content in a way that resonates with our members, decisions around platform and distribution become easier. It’s strategically important for us to develop authentic original content, and it’s a big differentiator that helps us maintain our presence. It helps cut through the clutter.

eMarketer: Are brands willing to pay a premium for brand safety?

Burke: Like most advertisers, we work closely with publishers and agencies to blacklist any potential off-brand channels and sites to ensure our brand and content are being shown on credible outlets.

Transparency is one of the most important criteria for us in selecting our partners and agencies. We’re fortunate to have complete transparency, ensuring our ads appear in appropriate context.

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