Megan Sullivan-Jenks, Director of Marketing, Choozle: We sometimes like to kick these off by asking the most important questions first. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Emily Branson, Media Manager, Digital & Social, Exclamation Media Group: Ooh, definitely cheese! If I can cheat, it would be anything with cheese in it. I’m a sucker for a great grilled cheese sandwich or a homemade bowl of mac n’ cheese!
Annie Heggeman, Media Manager, Digital & Social, Exclamation Media Group: Hands down chocolate chip cookies. I don’t think I’ve eaten one that I didn’t like. The ones at the new Swedish Hill Bakery in Austin are my favorite, though!
MSJ: Let’s start with an overview of what you offer for your clients at Exclamation Media Group.
EB: Exclamation Media Group is a division of Ampersand Agency. We’re a full-service media group specializing in digital and social. We believe what really sets us apart is our approach to media. We take the time to get to know a client’s goals and use the metrics that are important to their business in order to drive our media efforts. We also don’t set and forget campaigns. We continually optimize campaigns for our clients, and we love that Choozle gives us the capability to do that!
AH: Emily really nailed it with her description! I’d add that we take our client’s business goals seriously and strive to be an extension of their teams. We never take a one-size-fits-all approach and are constantly looking for ways to innovate on their behalf.
MSJ: What was the driving force behind bringing programmatic advertising into your service offering at your agency?
EB: We are client-focused through and through, so when we saw an opportunity to provide our clients with better programmatic services, we took it. We wanted to be in control of our client’s campaigns and be able to fully optimize them to the best of our abilities.
AH: Programmatic advertising takes a lot of the guesswork out of media buying. It automates decisions more quickly than a human ever could by automatically getting in front of the right audiences at the right times in real-time. It was a no brainer for us and our clients!
MSJ: What won you over when you started exploring Choozle as your in-house programmatic solution?
EB: First and foremost, it’s the customer support team. We know that we can rely on them to get the help we need quickly. They are so responsive and willing to help us every step of the way. It’s also just the ease of use of the platform. Choozle has made it so easy for us to make changes and adjustments to campaigns.
AH: Choozle’s customer support team is outstanding. Shoutout to our account manager, Sam, who’s always only a phone call away! The other thing that was a game-changer for us was the ease of use of the system. We felt like Choozle would allow us to experiment easily.
MSJ: Have you seen any immediate improvements on your team? Or with your clients?
EB: Definitely on our team. Choozle allows us to run a wide variety of tests within the campaigns we implement, so it’s really invigorating to be able to brainstorm how we can use the platform in order to make new and existing campaigns more effective.
AH: Yes, not only are we able to run creative, demographic, and geo-location tests, Choozle helps our clients achieve their business goals. For example, a university client of ours has seen an increase in admissions over time.
MSJ: What are some long-term benefits of using Choozle for your clients? For your team?
EB: We are able to get great insight into campaign performance, so it allows us to provide valuable insights from those metrics to help our clients with both their media goals and their business goals in the long run.
AH: Some of the more valuable benefits include getting to know very specific details about our client’s audiences and being able to back our learnings with data.
MSJ: Do you have any tips or tricks for agencies looking for an in-house programmatic solution?
EB: I would say definitely find something that aligns with your overall media strategy and how your agency approaches media in general. Be able to identify what’s most important to your agency when it comes to programmatic media and look for a solution that checks all of the boxes.
AH: Taking programmatic in-house made such a difference for us! If you feel as though your agency isn’t getting the programmatic results it wants by outsourcing, definitely consider an in-house solution. From there, like Emily said, look for a solution that allows your agency to meet its specific programmatic needs such as strong data sources, ease of use, cost, etc.
MSJ: Know Exclamation Media Group started as a branding agency, how do you integrate the foundations of branding into your programmatic advertising strategies?
EB: We approach all of our media plans with a wide lens, so we’re not just thinking about ad sizes and placements, but we also take a strategic look at how each client approaches messaging within a campaign. The messaging absolutely has to ladder up to the brand, so it all just works hand in hand!
AH: We think about this a lot! We are always trying to make sure that whatever goes into our media plan translates our client’s overall brand identities. Working hand in hand with our creative team and parent branding agency helps us ensure that our creative and messaging conveys a brand’s identity with accuracy.
MSJ: What programmatic advertising strategies do you use to promote your clients? Why these over all the others?
EB: Testing, for sure! We like to use all different types of creative with different messaging to see what sticks with our target audiences. We also look closely at trends. Sometimes an ad will perform better as an HTML ad or sometimes it will crush it as a display ad. It all varies based on who you’re targeting, where they live, what they like, and so much more! We believe that keeping a close eye on performance allows us to promote them in the best way possible.
AH: We do run a lot of testing! In addition to testing messaging and ad type, we are always looking for innovative programmatic tactics to leverage for our clients. For example, we have a newer client whose programmatic media will include geofencing and geoframing to help us better get in front of a niche portion of their target audience.
MSJ: What are some of the challenges do you face when putting together strategies for your clients?
EB: We don’t take a cookie-cutter approach with any of our media plans or strategies, so it can be overwhelming when it comes time to actually build out a plan or strategy for a client. Honestly, just getting started with a plan is a feat. There are so many different options and placements and targeting techniques these days, that we like to be really particular about what we’re doing for each client and why it will be the best fit for them.
AH: One of the biggest challenges to me is getting to know the client and ensuring that we are aligned on exactly what they want to achieve through their media. Every client is different, and we never take the same approach. We spend a lot of time thinking about our clients, their audiences and how to develop media plans that get them the end results that they want. Sometimes the answer is obvious, but more often than not, finding an answer takes time. Like Emily said, there are quite a few options, but once we have an understanding of our client’s goals, it creates a nice filter that helps us hone in on specifics to include in a media plan.
Emily Branson has a background in both organic and paid social media. She started her career working in-house then transitioned to a social media startup in Austin, TX. She is currently working in the agency world and loving it! In her spare time, Emily loves cooking at home or playing fetch with her dog, Moo.
Annie Heggeman has a background in programmatic and digital media planning. She worked for several large technology firms before migrating to the agency side of the house. When she’s not immersed in media planning you can find her walking her dog, Boss, around the coastal town of Mobile, Alabama.