The adoption of programmatic for brands has grown over the years as more brands learn the value of programmatic advertising. We sat down with Mackenzie Leahy, Senior Acquisition Marketing Manager at AKIRA to better understand how they adopted programmatic media buying for their brand as well as what works well for them.
Megan Sullivan-Jenks, Director of Marketing, Choozle: Mack, this is an important question. If you could only have one accessory for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Mackenzie Leahy, Senior Acquisition Marketing Manager, AKIRA: Hair Tie. Haha, does that make me boring?
MSJ: Nah. It’s practical! I’ve found that most digital marketers have a unique career story. What’s yours?
ML: I grew up in South Florida and went to college at the University of Virginia, where I rowed for four years. From there, I traveled up the east coast to Boston, went to work at Reebok, and was there for almost four years. There, I was on the U.S. Marketing team, executing all things media and digital.
About three years ago, I made my way to Chicago and landed at Arrive, a travel technology platform. There, I met amazing people and helped build out the digital marketing strategy—that’s when I really dove head first into programmatic. Since then, I’ve made my way back to retail and have been heading up the digital marketing strategy at AKIRA.
MSJ: As a brand, what won you over when you started exploring Choozle as your in-house programmatic solution?
ML: Accessibility & pricing, ease of getting started, and set up. The Client Experience team is full of great knowledge and is quick to help.
MSJ: Love to hear that. Have you seen any immediate impacts by bringing programmatic in-house at AKIRA?
ML: We’ve had Choozle running for about six months now, and while we’re continuously trying to solve attribution, we’re definitely seeing the impact and a lift in our organic and direct channels.
On a more tactical level, it’s really important to our team that we control how we retarget our potential customers, especially when it comes to the messaging. Choozle gives us a lot of levers to pull to make sure we’re consistent but not overbearing.
MSJ: What marketing strategies do you use for your brand? Why these over all the others?
ML: Our #1 goal is growth. Reaching new people in smart ways has been key to our success. A couple of strategies we’ve found successful are native advertising and location-based targeting.
- Native advertising allows us to display our brand within relevant content.
- Location-based targeting in Factual allows us to target people when their intent to shop is high.
MSJ: What skills or best practices did you transfer from other marketing campaigns, like paid search or social, to what you’re doing for display media buying now?
ML: Campaign setup is key. Understanding that acquisition and retargeting campaigns work together—but are very different tactics in all platforms—really helps us to know how to go about planning budgets and creative.
From a content strategy perspective, what works in search or social typically works well for us in display.
Mirroring audience interests is also a great place to start. If you see in your display metrics that people love pink heels, they’ll probably also love pink heels on Instagram.
Building off of this, where we drive new customer traffic once we have attracted them is important as well. (Sending them to a category page versus the home page might make more sense depending on creative.)
MSJ: What goals or metrics do you focus on within your display campaigns? How do you translate those to business metrics/KPIs?
ML: For an overall business strategy, we always tie this back to return on ad spend (RoAS). While doing so, we like to ask things like:
- Are we being efficient enough?
- What were our campaign goals, and how was performance in programmatic vs. other channels?
At a campaign level, acquisition campaigns are where we really look to cast the net and hit as many people as possible. The main metric AKIRA focuses on is a solid CTR.
Retargeting campaigns are where we get more aggressive. Because someone has shown interest, the goal is to get them to purchase, so we’ll look at a specific CPA.
MSJ: What are some of the challenges you face when putting together strategies for AKIRA?
ML: Attribution, along with answering the questions, “Is this channel making an impact?” and “Who is our ideal consumer and how do we find them?” These questions are things we are constantly trying to understand and improve.
Mackenzie Leahy is the Senior Acquisition Marketing Manager at AKIRA in Chicago, Illinois. With a demonstrated history of working in the retail industry, her specialties include cross-channel media strategy, buying and analysis, programmatic advertising, mobile and app campaign strategy, SEM, social media, and campaign content development. Mackenzie graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in English and Political Science.