That Audi understands marketing effectiveness should come as little surprise. The brand picked up the IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix at last year’s awards for its ‘beauty and brains’ strategy, created with BBH, which focused on both the design of its cars and technical innovations, and generated an estimated £1.78bn in incremental value for the brand between 2015 and 2017.
Key to that success has been understanding the effectiveness of creativity, not just media spend. Before Audi airs ads it tests them to see how the creative and messaging impacts sales and orders. It has found that when an ad has real cut-through, it is three times more efficient at driving orders.
“The creativity is a really key component, from a business point of view,” Anna Russell, national brand and retail marketing lead at Audi, tells Marketing Week. “Whatever the business case may be, there’s our product planning team and our sales team, but we then model what media spend we should do and what we need to do from a creative point of view to make sure we have something that is truly unique. If we hit that spot we sell more cars."
To do that, Audi uses econometrics, which it implemented in 2016, working with agency Neustar MarketShare, although all its agencies have access to the data. Russell claims the method is “spookily accurate”.
In 2017, the company saw volume sales increase from 166,000 to 172,000 and Audi was able to model not only how much it needed to spend on marketing to achieve that uplift, but also how many of each model. When it then saw another volume increase, econometrics was accurate to within 32 car sales.
“It’s really impressive. I’ve got one slide that shows the different modelling and exactly where we netted out in the year. It’s pretty powerful.”