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Today, marketers are facing big shifts in consumer behavior, market-wide volatility and downward budgetary pressures. We find out how Essence is helping them navigate digital transformation by launching Media Health Check in APAC.

For many marketers, one of the key desired results of digital marketing transformation is a high-functioning and evergreen performance media campaign that can take in data signals and convert them into actionable business outcomes via media tactics. 

This is something that Essence’s Media Health Check, developed during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, hopes to help marketers with, by examining a wide range of fundamentals at the heart of any successful performance media campaign, such as audience strategy, creative implementation, budget controls and flights, brand safety, bid management and optimization settings.

In doing so, Essence claims it can recommend tactics that can deliver business growth in the short term, and longer-term initiatives that could achieve more positive results further down the road. 

The Media Health Check sits under WPP-owned Essence’s consultancy offering and was developed together with its client Google. Essence supports marketers’ current team set-up as part of the Media Health Check, be it an in-house media team or a third-party agency, with follow-ups to ensure recommendations are implemented correctly and business results are realized.

“Essence Media Health Check enables marketers beyond Google to gain access to our agency’s digital media capabilities, technologies and automation tools in a way that is fast, effective and cost-efficient,” explains Monica Bhatia, senior vice-president, client partner for Asia Pacific and managing director for Singapore at Essence.

“In the Media Health Checks that Essence has conducted so far, we have uncovered significant media efficiencies and business growth within 90 days of implementation, giving them peace of mind that they are not leaving any money on the table with their performance media campaigns.”

Kevin Murakami, the director of global performance marketing at Google, adds having a playbook built upon universal best practices across globally-scaled platforms helps advertisers get the basics right across all their campaigns.

“Coupling the playbook with automated quality assurance (QA) technology will also remove the advertiser’s question if their millions of keywords are managed appropriately,” he says.

“By practicing the adoption of best practices at scale with automation, it will eventually help advertisers realign their time to higher-level, more important strategic tasks that will continue to grow a business for the long term.”

He continues: “The only way for digital teams to transform with the industry will be to continue to invest in applying machine learning tools at scale (for example, auto-bidding, predictive tools for creative rendering and landing page experiences and a customer’s lifetime value). Tools like these can also be coupled with QA technology built on the ad platform APIs to reduce manual hours spent in accounts.”

Bhatia shares that Essence has reviewed all the accounts that the agency has launched, optimized and maintained, including a Media Health Check focusing on search marketing that it conducted for Google, which formed a part of a pitch for additional scope of its digital marketing business.  

Discovering indicators to seek out where results are coming from has allowed the agency to qualify the areas that need improvement and go from identifying where there is media wastage to discovering new campaign and business ideas.

These include establishing end-to-end tracking, improving display and search keyword quality and threading the user experience from start to end.

“The Media Health Check identified and eliminated search keywords that were contributing more to cost than to performance. This resulted in increased efficiency of 213% in return on advertising spend and 67% in cost per lead,” says Bhatia.

“It uncovered targeting consistency gaps between media channels, keyword match types, markets and regions in the markets. Total traffic-driving keywords were increased by 25%, with a growth of 18% in qualified leads and 6% in revenue.”

She adds: “The product adoption portion of the Media Health Check recommended the utilization of responsive search ads, which uses an algorithm that optimizes search advertising creative based on relevance. The adoption of responsive search ads delivered an improvement of 11% in net retention rate of qualified leads and an increase of 8% in click-through rates.”

In addition, Murakami points out that Google and Essence have seen the greatest growth and efficiency from adopting all of the machine learning tools at their disposal.

“By adopting automated bidding technologies and machine learning algorithms to assemble creative for the appropriate user, we have seen the reduced need for hours of manual management of bidding and creative testing each week. This allows us to focus more on strategic testing and expansion across new platforms and audiences so that the entire portfolio continues to grow,” he explains.

“Machine learning tools are consistently outperforming human management in A/B testing, so we will continue to leverage new automated tools to drive growth. Automation has also helped us QA our global programs at scale but using all of our platform APIs to automatically QA account setup and adherence to best practices and brand safety protocols.”