Philips overhauls media buying to make it ‘much more strategic’

Philips has reacted to the brand safety scandal by taking areas of media buying in-house, but has also placed its media agencies at the start of the creative process to push them to be “much more strategic”.

Besides overhauling its media strategy, Philips has also changed its approach to customer loyalty by launching a new campaign.

Philips is rethinking how it buys media to make it a “much more strategic” part of the creative process as it looks to make media buying more efficient and ensure the company limits the impact of brand safety issues.

The review, led by its global head of digital marketing and media Blake Cahill, has led to several changes. Philips has brought data management in-house, and now optimises its ad placements twice daily.

“No one is [giving] an extra billion euros of advertising dollars to us, so what we are spending has to be as efficient as possible. Whether it’s placement or click through, whatever the goal of a campaign is, we want best practices in-house,” he explains.

Philips is also doing a lot of work around brand safety, an area that Cahill describes as “still so grey”. To increase transparency, Philips is reviewing its media buying on a market by market basis. For example, earlier this year it pulled its advertising from Dutch website Geenstijl after it published “inflammatory” content that clashed with its brand values.

“But it’s also media on a higher level that is changing. We have put in place quite some governance to ensure we are proactive and reactive,” he says.

We put media up front in the creation process, which drives the content, creative and assets. If you put them at the end, you are cutting down a bunch of stuff that may not be fit for purpose.

Blake Cahill, Philips

The review includes changing the way it works with its media agencies. Cahill says the company is pushing them to be “much more strategic, and not just pushing buttons and buying media”. That has led to higher fees, but he says this is “worth the investment”.

“Media agencies were much later in the traditional flow of things. Now, we put media up front in the creation process, which drives the content, creative and assets. If you put them at the end, you are cutting down a bunch of stuff that may not be fit for purpose,” he says.

“We are doing that now, and it is totally changing what we’re getting at the back end. We pay them a higher fee for that work compared to traditional media. But it’s worth the investment.”

This focus was certainly well-timed; brand safety has consistently hit the headlines this year, with the likes of Procter & Gamble calling on the industry to clean up the media supply chain and YouTube vilified for not doing enough to stop advertising appearing next to extremist and pornographic content.

The media review is part of a broader rethink on its approach to digital and how it stays abreast of new trends.With Philips investing most of its ad budget in digital media, Cahill was keen to move to a more “consistent way of working”.

“We wanted to get everyone in the same car and working the same way – as a global business we want to do social and search the same way, as well as the tools we use,” he explains.

Changing its approach to loyalty

Brand purpose and increasing customer loyalty are also high on its list of priorities. Last week, the company unveiled the Better Me, Better World campaign, which gives customers the power to tell the company which healthcare causes Philips should support in 2018 through the Philips Foundation.

Customers can vote for their favourite cause after registering their purchases online, and in turn this will also sign them up to its customer loyalty scheme. So far, Cahill claims, it has had 10,000 votes without any media investment behind it.

“If you’re a member of Boots, you get coupons and discounts, which is fantastic for your next purchase but it’s not enough for why you want to be associated with that brand. We dug deeper, and this is how we got to our new initiative which links in to our brand purpose of improving people’s lives,” he says.

Cahill admits, however, that getting people to register is the brand’s biggest barrier. This is why it wants to make the sign-up process as frictionless as possible, and will be placing a bigger focus on sharing the progress it is making through its charity partnerships.

“It’s not just about having 20% off your next purchase, it’s nice to hear back how many pregnant mums we have positively impacted through our partnership with the Red Cross. This way consumers build up more of a relationship with Philips,” he concludes.



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