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MSAN increases digital agility for Digitas

  Article , Success stories

Agency expands digital horizons with the Microsoft Audience Network

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Connecting brands and people in the digital age

Digitas is the Connected Marketing Agency, built on the principle that there are better ways for brands to connect with people, and people with each other. The agency serves the world’s leading brands through a global network comprised of more than 4,000 employees across over 30 countries and 50 offices. Ever keen to be at the forefront of digital innovation, Digitas have been strong proponents of the Microsoft Audience Network (MSAN), and through extensive experimentation have delivered exceptionally strong results for some of their biggest clients.

The success of this product has definitely moved the Microsoft partnership up the digital agenda for some of our clients.

— David McDiarmid, Head of Media, Digitas UK

Shifting to an audience-led search strategy

“Search is no longer a keyword buy, it’s an audience buy,” claimed David McDiarmid, Head of Media for Digitas UK. “Our desire with our paid search strategy is to position our clients’ products and services when and where consumers need them. To achieve that goal we need to go beyond traditional search and find new audience activations that help us reach our target consumer.”

David and his team of digital experts are constantly looking for new ways to try new ad formats that will drive additional reach and bring more people into the marketing funnel. “We don’t do innovation for the sake of innovation. But the digital ecosystem changes that quickly that you must have that agile, always-on, testing mentality to figure out what’s going to work. Our push to be more audience focussed and use richer, more engaging assets was a big factor in wanting to try MSAN,” explained David.

While rich ad formats are traditionally thought of as a specialism of display advertising, the Digitas team saw MSAN as a natural fit for its mission: “We all need to be agile and adaptive and need to get used to buying different ad formats,” commented David, “Search is now an audience buy, and it’s an audience buy in which you can use image assets. So, it’s not too much of a stretch to be looking to do audience-based, image-based, digital media from a search perspective.”

Expanding horizons

One of the key people who worked on implementation and optimization of MSAN campaigns for Digitas clients was Senior Search Analyst, Neeti Sirohi. “When we initially tested MSAN we decided we would focus on a few key audiences to see what kind of traffic we would get,” said Neeti. “We used the Audience Network Planner to set some benchmarks of expectations for reach and performance but we were really surprised when the results surpassed our expectations.”

During the course of testing across multiple client accounts, Digitas found that MSAN consistently performed above benchmarks from other display and native networks. Cost for impressions and clicks range from 10% to 55% cheaper than standard display ads.

When combined with more granular audience targeting features like In-market Audiences, MSAN performed even better, with one Digitas client experiencing a seven-fold increase in CTR compared to standard display activity. “After using this product for a couple of months some of our campaigns have been so successful that clients have immediately wanted to increase the budget which is exactly what we hope for from a successful test like this,” commented Neeti.

“The success of this has definitely moved the Microsoft partnership up the digital agenda for some of our clients,” said David.

Our campaigns have been so successful that clients have immediately wanted to increase the budget which is exactly what we hope for.

— Neeti Sirohi, Senior Search Analyst, Digitas UK

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