What we mean by integration at Greenlight

By Lizzy Lakra | 16 Apr 2019

Integrated marketing. We’ve heard it a thousand times, but what does it mean for us as an agency and our clients? And more importantly, why do we need it?

As digital marketing has become more complex, so has agencies’ requirement for talent, with all hiring being based on the level of specialism required to deliver results for clients. In order to deliver best-in-class digital services, specialist channel leads know their channels inside out. The challenge with this structure is it doesn’t reflect today’s customer journey, which spans across multiple devices, channels, locations, and media, and is inherently, well, integrated. What do I mean by integration in this context? I mean marrying multiple (two or more) channels to drive efficiencies and an output that is greater than the sum of its parts.

We know that audiences don’t align with platforms. So, to deliver on the best media plans we can, we need a channel and client agnostic point of view that enables us to pick the optimum channel mix to drive performance – and, as an agency, we’re tackling this challenge by launching a specialist integrated function.

As part of the launch, we conducted an internal research piece to understand exactly what makes us Greenlighters start, and stop, integrating. To gain valuable insights, we asked a range of channel specialists at Greenlight what challenges they faced when it came to integrating cross-channel so that we could review and improve our internal processes. As a result, we discovered some interesting findings.

Integration starts on the inside with environment and people: A flexible, diverse, and informed workforce is essential to laying the groundwork for integration to happen 

Unconscious bias is any innate assumption we make beyond our conscious awareness or control, and could be anything from a gendered bias, to age, race, or even experience. To ensure we’re always hiring, promoting, developing, and rewarding people fairly, our staff receive unconscious bias training to support them in making judgements which aren’t based on bias to help eradicate any assumptions or judgements that could be made about someone. By increasing awareness of how we can make biased judgements without even realising, we’re more likely to make conscious choices that reduce bias. The training helps us keep an open mind, which is essential when scouting talent.

Part of reducing bias is living diversity, also known as cultural diversity. We take this seriously as there are 29 languages spoken across the business, each of which are key in supporting the services we offer across the 42 markets we work in. We published our gender pay gap when the government legislation came through in April 2018, despite not being legally obliged to (it’s only required for businesses with more than 250 staff), and we’re proud to say the exercise revealed that we had no pay gap discrepancies. We measured our pay gap again in October 2018, at which time it had risen to 6% due to a recent influx of junior female staff which impacted results – nevertheless, our figures were still below the average compared to our competitors, which range from 13-40%.

Following a staff survey in 2018, we recognised the range of people who wanted to get involved with charitable initiatives was immense throughout the agency, leading us to create Greenlight Gives. This sees a diverse group of people from across the agency get together to organise pro bono or charitable donations for causes that are close to the hearts of everyone across the business. Greenlight Gives receives ideas from all staff, which ensures there’s a variety of endeavours suited to all kinds of charitable efforts and an opportunity for everyone to get involved. We think inclusion is a vital ingredient to integrate people successfully

Back to basics, let’s get organised

The standardisation of internal processes might not be the most interesting, but it’s one of the first addressable points when it comes to integration. Through consolidating our internal processes within the Paid Media department, we’ve identified where we could be making improvements that’ll encourage smoother workflows. The approach taken towards a media plan will have a knock-on effect throughout the campaign cycle. Starting off on the right foot will lead to huge advantages throughout the activation, reporting, and analysis phases. In order to deliver the best results, we have a cross-channel paid media plan and a single KPI thread that runs throughout. When we’re planning media, we set a clear goal and marker of performance for every channel that’s agreed with our clients and is in line with our objectives.

Take our Data Science & Audience Insights team, we found they weren’t communicating effectively with our Paid Media delivery teams. To tackle this, we’ve decided to include the teams in a new collective thought leadership session which takes place every month, where everyone sits in a room together and gets the opportunity to discuss topics such as data attribution and audience building.

Introducing processes doesn’t have to be a big project; sometimes the smallest change can make the biggest difference. For example, we’ve introduced and adopted a briefing process document that has been deployed across all areas of the business so that the Data Science & Audience Insights team are effectively briefed in on new projects. This has saved a lot of back and forth, miscommunication, and helped manage expectations internally. 

Other initiatives include the revamping of our paid social internal templates and documents to reflect our current way of working, including best practice documents, new case studies to reflect our recent work, up-to-date new business collateral, and documents highlighting our way of working and targeting methods, and re-working our agency approach to audiences.

Mapping out audiences

Our data management platform (DMP) enables us to place a pixel on a client’s site and collate a view of what an audience looks like. By overlaying of first-, second-, and third-party data, we’re able to create a robust view of the audiences available to that brand. Our data scientists then comb through the data to identify the core segments worth grouping and targeting. This process has identified previously unknown audience segments that have been untapped by way of audience targeting, presenting an exciting opportunity to seize for our clients. Take AQAQ, a premium female fashion brand that had two core audiences. Through data analysis of its audiences, we identified two new additional audience segments which previously weren’t considered by the client. Following this discovery, targeting the new audiences resulted in a 15% increase in conversions and a 7% increase in revenue.

Another longstanding home retail client has leveraged DMP data to differentiate between existing and new customers. By grouping characteristics relevant to both audiences, we designed creative that fitted the audiences’ characteristics, including themes such as gaming as this was a high-affinity topic. The result? Post-click conversion rates increased by 20% among new customers and increased by 164% among existing customers.

Centralise your performance data

Once a media plan has been signed off, approved, and the campaign is live across multiple channels, having a single view of channel data will further the ability to make cross-channel investment decisions. We manage this through our proprietary technology, Prism, which enables us to have a centralised view of performance data, is all deduped and channel agnostic. It’s now live for clients including New Balance and Rajapack, and allows our clients to login and get an up-to-date view of performance across all digital channels. As the technology is homegrown, we’re able to create bespoke views and evolve its functionality to suit our clients’ needs.

For example, since its development, our data scientists have woven an attribution tool into the platform which adopts Marcov theory, a statistical model that’s able to determine the probabilistic ‘removal effect’ of a given channel during a given path to conversion. As such, it’s able to measure the net impact on overall conversions if a channel is taken out of the mix by assigning a relative weight against a channel within a given channel sequence or customer journey. This means our clients can access platform-agnostic attribution data to inform their future investment decisions. It also means that clients can access a single use platform that updates automatically. Through automating the process, we’re spending less time on reporting and more time thinking strategically for our clients.

The benefits of an integrated agency impact both the client and the agency

For clients this means:

  • Better customer service: Leveraging multiple channels presents the opportunity to adapt to the various customer journeys that exist and to communicate accordingly, further developing the client-agency relationship and promoting ongoing learning which will lead to improved service.
  • Stronger branding: Happier customers will improve brand perception by default.
  • Increased sales opportunities: By being present at the right time in the right place, clients are able to take advantage of opportunities to convert potential new customers.
  • A better understanding of customers: Brands will learn more about their customers thanks to having a clear benchmark through a single KPI goal to judge performance against.
  • Budget efficiencies: An integrated strategy equates to better management of budget between channels, leading to an improvement in client KPIs.

For agencies this means:

  • Improved performance for clients: By statistically attributing channel results, performance will improve and clients will be satisfied.
  • Better communication between channel teams: Working towards a single goal will motivate teams to communicate better as they’ll have a shared objective.
  • The opportunity to learn from each other: By working as a team across multiple channels, channel specialists will get the opportunity to learn from each other and see the bigger picture.
  • Client retention will improve: Channel-agnostic investment decisions lead to long-term growth for the client.

As we continue to uncover more about how to further our integration efforts on an ongoing basis, we know we’ll continue to be confronted with challenges. However, we believe they’re worth facing head-on, as the long-term rewards are worth it.