Business challenge

To succeed, marketing campaigns must deliver the right message at the right time, via the right channel. But when is the right time and what is the right channel? GroupM aims to help clients find out.

Transformation

GroupM applies machine learning to take the complexity out of marketing campaigns, driving better decision-making around where and when to place ads to lift conversion rates dramatically.

Results

50%

higher conversion rates for marketing campaigns deliver greater value to clients

80%

time saving on analysis helps GroupM serve more clients with better results

Reduces

irrelevant ads, protecting brands and enhancing the consumer experience

Business challenge story

Demystifying consumer desires

Advertisements succeed when they appeal to our desires—but desires are complex and changing. A myriad of factors lies behind each of our purchasing decisions, which means that media investment companies such as GroupM face a challenge: how can they identify which of these factors are most influential?

“IBM Watson Analytics helps us make sense of the complexity of what we do, so that we can leap ahead of competitors in our industry.”

—Baltazar Ozonek, Head of Marketing Technology, GroupM

Baltazar Ozonek, Head of Marketing Technology at GroupM, takes up the narrative: “It’s no secret that the key to effective marketing lies in delivering the right messages to your target audience at precisely the right moment. For example, the success of an online fast food ad could depend on catching people just before they leave work on a Friday, when they might be tempted to relax with take-out instead of spending the evening in the kitchen.

“However, in a world where people are bombarded with advertising through many channels, there is still plenty of mystery surrounding the best way to make your ads really catch people’s attention, and send a clear signal through to your customers instead of getting lost in the background noise.”

GroupM was already well-versed in using analytics to help it decide when and where to place ads on behalf of its clients. However, the quality of the insight it could obtain was limited by the scale of the data that needed to be analyzed, and the speed at which decisions need to be made in the world of online advertising. As advertising datasets continued to increase in size and complexity, the company wanted to find a smarter approach, fast.

Emil Lauritsen, Digital Developer at GroupM, elaborates: “We run several hundred campaigns each month, placing ads via video sites, search engines and other media. Our ads create billions of impressions—and we analyze each campaign down to the level of a single impression. Traditional statistical analytics and modeling techniques struggled to cope with so much data, which meant it was difficult to extract relevant insights at the speed required to optimize ongoing campaigns.”

Baltazar Ozonek adds: “The proliferation of new web and IoT [Internet of Things] tools means that datasets are only going to get bigger and more complicated. GroupM is no stranger to innovation; clients come to us precisely because we are always up to date on the newest technology and how it can help us deliver greater value to our clients, so we began exploring the possibilities.”

“We have already been able to achieve a 50 percent increase in the conversion rate for an existing marketing campaign with IBM Watson Analytics. It is exciting to think that we have only just scratched the surface when it comes to the possibilities that the solution offers us.”

—Emil Lauritsen, Digital Developer, GroupM

Transformation story

Revealing revolutionary insights

GroupM was intrigued by the potential of using machine learning techniques to analyze its data. The company was able to draw on its longstanding partnership with IBM to discover a solution that proved to be just what it was looking for.

Baltazar Ozonek comments: “We have built up a deep and mutually beneficial relationship with IBM, allowing us to take advantage of the extensive network of resources they have across the Nordic region. For us, one of the biggest benefits of working with IBM is their strong presence in the Nordics. They proposed IBM® Watson Analytics™, a solution that could offer us a game-changing new set of capabilities.”

“As soon as I started playing around with Watson Analytics I could see the potential to change the way that we work and the results that we deliver,” says Emil Lauritsen. “After a month of experimenting, we set the wheels in motion to start rolling out the tool to the rest of the company. IBM Watson Analytics is so intuitive, and provides impressive results so fast, that as soon as we show it to anyone they are eager to start using it themselves.”

GroupM uploads huge datasets to IBM Watson Analytics and uses the solution’s built-in data discovery capabilities to reveal patterns and trends in the data. Equipped with these insights, the company can put together likely hypotheses about the right times and places to release ads. By studying the response to these ads, it can then use the solution to refine these theories. This creates a virtuous circle that enables continuous improvement, even during the course of a campaign.

“Reading about the potential impact of artificial intelligence is one thing, but seeing it in action with IBM Watson Analytics is staggering,” says Baltazar Ozonek. “We can take data from a whole range of sources—such as Google, Facebook and our clients—and analyze it at dizzying speed with Watson Analytics, uncovering all sorts of surprising insights into consumer purchasing behavior. More than that, we can use Watson Analytics to evaluate marketing campaigns while they are in motion, so we can continually adjust them for maximum impact.”

Results story

Enabling sky-high conversion rates

A month into its use of IBM Watson Analytics, GroupM is already seeing the positive influence on the service that it delivers to clients.

Emil Lauritsen comments: “We have already been able to achieve a 50 percent increase in the conversion rate for an existing marketing campaign with IBM Watson Analytics. It is exciting to think that we have only just scratched the surface when it comes to the possibilities that the solution offers us.”

By providing results from analytics much faster, the solution enables GroupM to reduce the time that it spends on setting up new campaigns and refining existing ones.

“Before, we would spend an average of five hours a week evaluating whether a particular campaign was working well or not,” recalls Emil Lauritsen. “Using IBM Watson Analytics, we can cut this time to just one hour per week. When you think of this benefit multiplied across the hundreds of campaigns that we work on each month, the resulting productivity increase is huge.

“As a result, we can have more time to spend carrying out the optimizations, and we can serve more clients with the same headcount. Critically, this time saving doesn’t come at a cost to our clients—in fact, the opposite is true, and we can deliver much more accurate recommendations in significantly less time.”

Looking to the future, GroupM sees the solution as a critical tool in its strategy to retain its industry-leading position. And by better targeting clients’ campaigns, the company is helping to reduce the number of irrelevant ads that consumers encounter.

Baltazar Ozonek concludes: “IBM Watson Analytics helps us make sense of the complexity of what we do by structuring our data in a useful manner, so that we can leap ahead of competitors in our industry. We are now ready to take on larger and more complicated datasets than ever before, and extract hidden truths that will help our clients target their ads more effectively. In the process, we ensure that consumers come into contact with more ads that are relevant to them, enhancing their experience and protecting our clients’ brands from over-exposure.”

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About GroupM

The world’s largest media investment company, GroupM is responsible for one in three ads globally. Employing 27,500 people at 400 locations around the world, it reports annual revenues of USD 1.2 billion.

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