Thought Leadership
From Business, to Business: How HFA drives performance for their B2B clients

Amy Weiser TeamHFA

Amy Weiser
Senior Integrated Media Specialist
Hitchcock Fleming & Associates

As a Senior Integrated Media Specialist, I have a hand in the media strategy that levels up to our Connections Planning approach (across paid, earned and owned media).  This includes leading the planning, buying, reporting and stewardship across all types of online and offline media.  I have over 10 years of agency experience and have been an hfa team member for over 5 years, previously working at TMP Worldwide and Jaeger Advertising.


 

For those of us that aren’t familiar with hfa, tell us a little more about your agency and the types of clients you represent.

Hitchcock Fleming & Associates, Inc. (hfa), a top-caliber marketing communications agency headquartered in Akron, Ohio, boasts a 75-year history of delivering groundbreaking work and profitable results for its clients. hfa has the skill set to take on projects in any category with specialties in the building, automotive and healthcare industries. A few of our clients include LP® SmartSide® Trim and Siding, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, various PPG Architectural Coatings brands, KraftMaid® Cabinetry, Clopay®Saint-Gobain, Bosch Power Tools and more.

 

What are some of the key challenges you’ve faced in buying media for B2B clients?

Some clients are in need of assets for a variety of ad opportunities.  Having less variety of assets limits the type of recommendations we can make.  However, we have been very creative with what they have, using the most relevant targeting and technologies in each campaign.  In terms of the publishers, we are at times challenged by a lack of scale, high CPMs/cost efficiency and limited targeting options to reach our niche target audiences.

 

Typically, how do you measure success for campaigns? Do KPIs differ between campaigns you run with publishers, as compared to ad networks?

Each client has unique KPIs given our overall strategy.  In some cases, the clients want to drive offline/in-store sales, and other times, they seek interaction with specific features on the website.  Therefore, we often measure media performance with intent-to-purchase engagements, leads or quality of traffic.

 

How does mobile play a part in your strategy?

Mobile is an important consideration, as it continues to steal share from other media channels with regard to total time spent.  However, before we include mobile in a client’s strategy, we consider whether they have a mobile-friendly, optimized or mobile-first site.  Most have one of these and therefore we would build mobile into the integrated campaign.  We have used targeting such as Job Title, Geo-Fencing, DemographicLookalike, Search Retargeting, and beyond.  We partner with vendors who have access to reliable 1st or 3rdparty data through companies such as Nielsen, who offer residential construction (or other relevant) audience profiles.

 

When do publisher direct buys come into play, and why do you feel they are still important? What are some of the types of creative executions you run with them?

We often work directly with B2B publishers directly to build deeper relationships over time with the niche audiences we are looking to reach.  This is a guarantee of premium inventory and relationships with these important publishers.  Audience surveys show that they are still consuming media this way and that they are loyal users providing repeat visits to these types of websites.  Given the loyalty and relevant content, these campaigns offer greater brand impact for our clients.

This sometimes also offers us the opportunity for custom buys or ways to integrate our clients’ brands into the content of the sites used.  Some examples include custom contests, native content opportunities, site takeovers, web skins or rising star IAB ad units.

 

How have bigger platforms like Facebook or Twitter worked out for your clients?

We have used paid social media for most clients and it has worked very well, given the targeting that is available (demographic, geographic, interest, etc).  However, some brands perform better than others.  In that environment, it has to be something the audience is passionate about, and they need to be interested enough in the offer, promotion or message.

 

What are some of the biggest pain points in your day-to-day life in buying media? What about some of the biggest pain points for the industry as a whole?

At this time, pain points would include effectively identifying and removing fraudulent traffic, ensuring brand safety, and verifying ad viewability, which are industry-wide concerns.  This is why we always ask how are potential partners plan to address these issues before we will work with them.  Another concern is that reporting from direct publishers can, at times, be inconsistent or not accurate.  There is no common format or industry standard for what they need to deliver so it is a potluck of information and can sometimes not align with what we are seeing on the back end.

 

How do you typically vet network or publisher vendors that you will test with?

We consider their audience, differentiators, opportunities for unique placements, and their ability to deliver on brand safety, fraudulent traffic prevention, etc.  We do an RFP process for vendors that align with the client’s strategy at that time.  We also look at historical performance, cost efficiency and utilize our thorough understanding of our clients’ audiences/needs.

 

What are some of the core tools / systems you currently use on a day-to-day or weekly basis?

STRATA, SRDS, CARD Online, Nielsen Ad Views, Google Analytics, Web Trends, etc.

 

Attribution plays a key role in understanding the effectiveness of each channel in a holistic client campaign. How do you assign a value to each channel/partner to ensure credit is given where credit should be due? 

For online media, we use tracking URLs, Google Analytics codes (when applicable) and a third-party ad server/tracking service with our campaigns.   For offline media we use custom or unique landing pages for radio, print, OOH, etc.  We can then compare overall traffic with the timing of the campaign and offline media.  We also work to fairly attribute performance based on click-through and view-through tracking window settings for digital media.

 

What is your take on programmatic?

We use programmatic for clients as it makes sense and aligns with current strategies.  The potential partners all need to address the industry concerns mentioned previously though, to ensure this method of buying is beneficial versus harmful.  To date we have seen positive results in the B2B space, getting access to our target audiences within premium inventory, at a very reasonable cost, and leveraging the automated buying and optimization tools to drive efficiencies across our campaigns. 

 

Lastly, what is your view on the future of media buying for the B2B vertical?

B2B publishers will continue to improve their website capabilities and advertising opportunities.  Although sometimes slower to adapt to new technology and site features, they are catching up quickly and provide more engaging and strategic opportunities each year.  But it is also apparent that buying exclusively through direct publishers is not going to be the exclusive option any longer as our trade audiences consume more of the new media options.

 


 

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015, Hitchcock Fleming & Associates, Inc. (hfa) is more than a top-caliber marketing communications agency — it is a force for success for all of its clients. Twice named one of the Top Workplaces in Northeast Ohio by the Cleveland Plain Dealerhfa provides creative expertise in branding, research, strategic planning, digital solutions, social media marketing, public relations and media. hfa has the skill set to take on projects in any category with specialties in the automotive, building and healthcare industries. For more information, visit teamhfa.com.

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