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The MSOIA Video Series with Mediatel: Kester Fielding: Tackling total media planning

Brands have not done enough collectively to tackle tough questions around "total media planning" across different channels, Bacardi's head of commercial procurement Kester Fielding has said.

In the latest episode of Mediatel News's Making Sense of It All video interviews, Fielding called on advertisers to collectively work with agencies and media owners on how to plan campaigns in a "video-neutral" way despite digital media owners using self-reported metrics.

Speaking to Crater Lake & Co co-founder Brian Jacobs, Fielding said: "One of the biggest challenges we have is that each individual platform has its own measurement systems to promote itself... what we're certainly entering the conversation with our agencies about is how do we move forward in enabling us to have proper video neutral planning."

He went on: "It's a challenge for us; a challenge that we're entering into and we been into for a number of years. But I don't see us getting to a solution yet and that that cannot be something that an advertiser on its own can do.... It has to be something that we do collectively across the agency advertiser and media owner/platform/ data provider network."

In the interview, Fielding explains how Bacardi has worked to to implement mixed media modelling and to get better data on the effectiveness of non-paid media marketing, such as qualitative research on brand advocacy.

Making Sense of it All is weekly video interview series by Mediatel News in association with Crater Lake & Co. Each Tuesday, we publish interviews with the industry's most thought-provoking marketers, agency executives and research thinkers to find out how people working in media can make sense of this ever more complicated and fragmented ecosystem.


BRIAN JACOBS: So Kester, you're now working for Bacardi; before that you were at Diageo, so you've worked for two enormous businesses in the category that is subject to substantial regulation around the world as to where when and to whom you're allowed to advertise. Given these limitations you've always been at the forefront of using non-advertising communications and communication channels to talk to your target audience. Does this mean that you you've got less data available to you? How does it work? How do you assess these things?

KESTER FIELDING: Well, we do have less data available than we would do on digital media, for instance. For things like point of sale or for experiential, which most businesses like ours (certainly the ones i've worked for) spend a significant amount of as a percentage of our total AMP on non-media, which i think may be different from other CPG and other companies. Just in terms of the limitations we have in some marketplaces, not only for when and where we advertise but also how and what we say about things and about our brands.

So there are limitations, both from a creative and a media perspective. When you compare the millisecond by millisecond data that you'll have from the various digital platforms that we collect and we have in a media performance dashboard that we've put together ourselves for the use of all the Primos as we call them in Bacardi, so people have that on their desktop to look at when they're running their media campaigns... things such as experiential: events or sponsorships or point of sale or advocacy.

So when you have a number of people going out into the trade, trade advocates to persuade bartenders to have the great drinks that we have and how to serve them properly. There is naturally less data for that.

If I take one example: we've been doing a lot of work with marketing mixed modelling over the past five years. Our standard unit of measurement really is the kind of the weekly cadence of data all the way through, so we can begin to get the models to chew through things.

That is quite difficult to get data for certain elements of the non-media side of things, but we've been working significantly hard for over the last couple of years just to try and get better data. Getting better data sounds like a particularly inarticulate way of saying it, but it is kind of the base of what we need to get to.

And I think we're happier now with the standard, the cadence, the frequency, the quality of the data we have across experiential advocacy POS and PR, so we can begin to understand not only what we spend on these things but also where they are, how they hit the consumer, how the consumer kind of sees them and that's something that we're still working on.

But we're gradually going to a stage where you have a significant portion of your non-media AMP much better represented to allow modelling to take place. It's not the only thing we do; we're modelling certainly to allow us to look at ROI, to look at the interdependency of the various things we do at the time. We're very interested in stacked analysis of the ways in which media and activation in the on trade can work together, so you need to have better data to allow you to do that. But it is true to say that in the non-media side of things, we have less data to play with.

But, actually, you could also argue that you probably have too much data on a millisecond by millisecond basis on the digital channels to actually make any sense of things to enable you to actually to get some sense out of it, to agree to make better decisions.

JACOBS: Yeah, it's an interesting point. I guess that you have to be pretty imaginative also in the way in which you collect the data that you need or to find the data that you need and then go about collecting it from whatever source and whatever means.

How do you actually go about joining these things together? You mentioned one or two things that, PR, experiential and so on. When you put a plan together that combines these different these different channels, what sort of rules do you follow or how do you put these things together to make sense of it at all?

FIELDING: Well, as I said previously, we're looking to try and get some form of weekly measure of exposure.

Therefore, for something like advocacy, that's relatively easy to get to, as long as you set up a process for gathering the data. Because you have individuals going out there Monday through Sunday and so the number of bars you go to, the type of conversation you have – some kind of quality development because what we found, certainly when we originally looked at some of the experiential and activation parts, is how many bars did you go to and there was a number of bars which let's say (I'll make it up) 106 per week. But actually that didn't really express the type of depth of conversation that you're having so it was a mere number.

And, then, we begin to get into qualitative aspects of what the type of conversation you're with, so that's the advocacy side. For experiential, then it's a combination of the number of people that actually went to the event, the activation, certainly, online in terms of the PR activation, and then anything we've got from any ad-hoc research we did just in terms of a general sense of positivity about it. So you can begin to add things together.

A lot of it's about setting up internal structures and disciplines to capture the data. It's not that the data isn't available, it's that we're not capturing it. And also we need to find a way of capturing it in such a way that's operational for the organisation; if a salesperson has 50 minutes in in a bar, he or she's not going to spend another five minutes gathering data.

You have to have something which is realistic and pragmatic for the individuals who are have a number of other things to do as well as talking to the bar owner, now they've got to look at the shelf space we may have or whether we have some of the brands on rails in terms of the whisky of choice etc.

So it's having an aspiration but also understanding how to operationalise that within something that's already existed where you've got a limited amount of time for the individuals to capture that data. It's a little bit 'horses for courses' but it's about making sure that you gradually build things up over a period of time.

JACOBS: Just moving away a little bit from the drinks business, you and I have been around quite a long time and I've been around for a long time by now. But ever since I'm sure we can both remember, there's been much talk about total communications planning and how we've got to move away from paid-for media, and it's not just advertising, it's all these other media forms and communication forms.

Do you see the industry progressing along a path that helps people make these decisions to combine these different channels? Or are we just as far away as we ever were, do you think?

FIELDING: We're not as far away as we once were, with things like [IPA] Touchpoints in the UK which I think is a is a great beacon. But there isn't a lot beyond that that i'm aware of.

Certainly one of the biggest challenges we have is that each individual platform has its own measurement systems to promote itself and each one is exactly the same and what we're charged to do, and what we're certainly entering the conversation with our agencies about, is how do we move forward in enabling us to have proper video-neutral planning.

For instance, just in one area: how do you properly put together an audio/visual campaign across the various platforms? It's not just attribution or the effectiveness of it, it's purely simply 'let's build reach across the various platforms in such a way that we're not over duplicating'. We're getting the formats right, we understand how the different platforms work in terms of the type of message the type of format.

That is something that is an open question for us and I think you may have raised this in one of your recent 'Cog Blogs': in terms of the role of advertisers too in driving the end of the day we're paying for it all anyway. So those who pay the piper call the tune but we need to call the tune – I don't think we've really done that as a collective yet... I would have thought we might have answered these questions a bit more quickly than we have done.

It's still an area that I think collectively we we haven't embraced as much as we should, especially given the amounts of money on various platforms and the need to, with the growth of connected TV – not the death of linear TV but the repurposing of linear TV. Because it's still around us and it's still a very effective medium but how to bring those together in a combined fashion to put together a justifiable and robustly calculated reach curve. I don't say that with any embarrassment, I think reach, especially a one-plus, or unduplicated reach, is still massively important for mass market campaigns when they need to move things quickly and have scale.

So it's a challenge for us; a challenge that we're entering into and we been into for a number of years. But I don't see us getting to a solution yet and that that cannot be something that an advertiser on its own can do.... It has to be something that we do collectively across the agency advertiser and media owner/platform/ data provider network.

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