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Since delivering a game-changing media strategy that prioritised effectiveness over efficiency, Simon Peel, VP of Global Media at Haleon, and Dan Brown, Director of Analytics at MediaSense, are starting to reap the rewards. Marketing Procurement iQ invited them to discuss their work and share their experience
Keeping Haleon Future-Fit
“We want to keep adding in new media effectiveness drivers to understand how our model correlates with other types of business outcomes. What we want to see is that if effectiveness proxies go up in the model, does that lead to business outcomes increasing further down the funnel”
DAN BROWN: Can you take me back to the background of the project and what was at originally stake for Haleon?
SIMON PEEL: Haleon is the largest consumer healthcare company in the world, that until recently was part of GSK. We have brands such as Advil, Sensodyne, Panadol and about 150 others. We advertise significantly, but we knew that as a business we had been too focused on efficiency in the past – and that had prohibited us from growing. Simply put, the focus on cost meant the quality wasn’t there in our media output to help us reach the right people in the right context.
I moved to Haleon about 18 months ago, enticed by being part of launching a new company, which needed to have a sustainable growth mindset from the outset. We had to think about long-term and short-term value, and we knew that we couldn’t achieve either by simply cutting costs.
This gave us an opportunity to implement a philosophy that a lot of us hold dear, which is about the power of marketing and creativity which leads to effectiveness. So we needed to reposition media as something that would contribute towards that philosophy and help the organisation to grow.
SP: When MediaSense originally ‘looked under the hood’ of the previous Haleon model what needed to change?
DB: We needed to switch that pre-existing focus from efficiency to one of effectiveness, and we needed to set up a whole new set of metrics to measure that effectiveness. That started by defining what effectiveness means to Haleon, and what the value of it is.
Part of the process of building a new model was that we could detach any older metrics that were no longer relevant, and we could organise a framework that was less fragmented. We knew we needed an approach that was both consistent and scalable.
SP: How did you work out what ‘effectiveness’ for Haleon meant?
DB: We created four building blocks – context, reach, values and quality – and these became our key drivers.
We want to make sure that Halen’s advertisements are in contextually relevant environments, that they are of good quality and that they reach the right people. Values usually sit outside of media value models, but we have included them. As a consumer healthcare brand, it is incredibly important to Haleon that their values are represented.
DB: Did Haleon see this as an opportunity to bring in newer emerging metrics and KPIs?
SP: It was hard to come up with a set of KPIs that everyone was aligned with, and that could represent loads of different markets. Really hard actually. So, what we did was to go back to a lot of theoretical research – the likes of IPA, Kantar Millward Brown, Ipsos – we looked at all of the research that those companies had done over several years, and we applied insights where possible.
When it comes to metrics – yes, we are using new and emerging metrics, and we will be flexible as we move forward to make sure we are always current. The model must be adaptable in that sense.
SP: How did MediaSense develop a Model to bring our stakeholders along and demonstrate value?
DB: We created an effectiveness score, which was essentially a statistical method for turning a disparate set of metrics into a uniform and consistent scale. We started by processing historic data and then we applied a score from one to ten.
We could use this approach to measure other metrics too. One of the important factors that we needed to understand from the outset was the idea of an acceptable cost. For example, if effectiveness moves up the scale from five to eight, what is the acceptable cost of that eight? We could calculate that using the same method as we used to measure effectiveness proxies, this allowed us then to calculate and define value – the difference between acceptable cost and delivered cost is value.
Having that open, transparent and on the table from the outset was an important part of the work.
DB: Talk me through the challenges in agency partner implementation?
SP: Very early on, we had a marketing town hall where we presented the move from solely focusing on efficiency to balancing effectiveness with efficiency. Luckily, we had a lot of key stakeholders who thought similarly and wanted to re-focus our approach. They were happy to help push the agenda in their area of the organisation which helped us tremendously.
We all realised that if we are going to grow this new company, we would have to do it in the right way. Which meant any media framework that we built needed to represent the needs of local markets and brands. Our colleagues that joined the project were there to represent those needs and keep us in check.
From an agency perspective, Publicis embraced the change from the start, as they equally felt our previous approach wasn’t right for the new objectives of Haleon. They were incredibly supportive and tried very hard to find the right balance of price and quality. There were obviously a couple of times we needed to thrash out a few things, but it was always constructive and we always had the strategic direction to guide us.
SP: How is this model future-fit?
DB: The model must keep evolving, that was a really important part of the original vision. We want to keep adding in new media effectiveness drivers to understand how our model correlates with other types of business outcomes. What we want to see is that if effectiveness proxies go up in the model, does that lead to business outcomes increasing further down the funnel.
SP: What do you feel we have discovered over the past six months?
DB: I think there are three key learning points. The first is around transparency, making sure people can see and understand how the model works and how value is calculated, and ensuring that is clear right from the beginning.
Being flexible is the second. Taking on board feedback and being able to adapt, based on different markets and different stakeholders has been essential. Haleon is a global company, and this project needs to work for everyone. And then the third is about not losing sight of value.
We needed to make sure that we could calculate value and deliver value as part of this new model, even though it is focussing on effectiveness.
DB: What initial results are Haleon seeing as the model evolves?
SP: One example is that we increased our cost by 31% on a TV buy to get better prime-time programming, which we would never have done before, but that approach increased revenue by 36% in the short-term, which exceeded the investment we made.
It’s still early days, as the model was only fully implemented from May. But we have been running tests simultaneously to check the merit of the model and the metrics we are focusing on. What we do know, is by and large, those tests have been positive in the short-term. And are likely to see even greater effects in the long-term, as long as we stick with the strategy and hold our nerve.
One immediate change we have seen is that it has helped Haleon change its investment strategy. That has led us to look at new channels, new quality, the use of attention, and reassess the importance of context again – all with a view of linking the investment to a more holistic communications strategy.
Balancing efficiency & effectiveness – what could I do next?
Identify Effectiveness Drivers
Start by looking at your effectiveness drivers and ask yourself two things – what are the metrics that you are using? And are they the best ones? The chances are that you might find some room for improvement.
Align Internal Stakeholders
Implementing a project like this is a huge task and it can require some big changes – so you will need that internal stakeholder alignment. Talk to people, get them on board with any changes and ask for their input and collaboration. We spent about nine months building the model, taking people on the journey, and getting the baseline implemented. We also hosted a town hall early in the project – where we could convince the key players that changing our approach and building a new model would help to drive our business growth.
Get Agency Input
Align existing agency partners who not only share your vision, but who are able to expand and refine it. A project like this is broad and it needs multiple experts.
Build A Team
Understand that this is all about collaboration. From a Haleon point of view the brief was produced in total collaboration with the procurement team – this was marketing and procurement in a symbiotic relationship. More broadly, to be successful with this type of project, you need an external partner who shares the vision and has the expertise to drive it forward.
Develop A Clear Road Map
Spending time working out what ‘effectiveness’ means to your company is enormously valuable – often it can mean different things to different people from across the various departments and world markets. It all starts with conversations though and knowing who the right people are to bring in. Use this to build a coherent and robust roadmap.