Commentary

What Kimberly-Clark Has Learned From Taking Programmatic In-House

While many marketers are now getting involved in automated media buying -- i.e., programmatic  -- Kimberly-Clark has been at it for a few years.

Aiming to have more control of its first-party data, along with greater transparency about media costs, the consumer packaged goods giant brought automated and audience-based media buying in-house four years ago. Mindshare continues to manage the process and implementation for Kimberly-Clark.

“We wanted to bring everything in-house because we wanted to own the data to get to targeting consumers in a behavioral fashion, versus. a demographic perspective,” said Lisa Giarcosa, global head of experience planning and integrated media, Kimberly-Clark, speaking last week at the GABBCON Chicago Audience Buying Summit. "We’ve realized that unlocking the data is about knowing a customer and how the person engages with brands, shops online, and how they interact with loyalty programs.”  

"Behavioral targeting ensures that Kimberly-Clark can look at the different types of behaviors people have across various touchpoints including in-store,” said Cameron Friedlander, marketing technology and integrated media, Kimberly-Clark.

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So what has the brand learned from taking everything in-house?

“We’ve gained an understanding of how we can use multiple partners and data points to pinpoint people on their buying journey. And how to ensure that we don’t expose personally identifiable information,” Giarcosa said.

Other lessons have enabled the brand to buy media in a different way. For example, while programmatic is most associated with digital media planning and buying, it also extends to addressable TV. “We’re thinking about how to target people in conventional [media] channels using programmatic,” Giarcosa said.

Kimberly-Clark has also learned how to improve messaging and creative. The company sees data as a creative lever; data can inform campaign creative. “The learnings swing back to how we think about creative and how we can use data to create specific assets,” Friedlander said.

“We had to look at content as it relates to our audience in a way that’s agnostic of channel. We’ve used dynamic creative optimization on the backend.”

He noted that data, content and technology have converged and must be addressed all at the same time. “There’s an infinite amount of data, channels, times, places, and devices,” Friedlander said.

Friedlander said that with data and technology evolving so quickly, many people forget about creative and how people are consuming and interacting with it.

Where measurement is concerned, Giarcosa said: “How do we take all the existing metrics we have and start to make them mesh together to build a much more accurate and causal picture?”

She noted that return on investment measures need to be meshed with brand equity and sales volume. “As you apply more and more data, you get into a deeper niche and you might do well, but you’re not delivering on the volume that’s required. How do the metrics work together?” she asked.

Interestingly, while many marketers are drowning in ad-tech partners, Giarcosa noted, "It's better to have more partners that enable you to achieve your business goal than to have less just because it was easier. The days of few channels are over."

She added, "My question is, how do we move the masses of marketers and our agencies to think about data-driven marketing without throwing out the old metrics that work for us? It’s not saying that everything must be new, it’s about how do we look at causal metrics that enable us to move the data-driven marketing philosophy and the metrics that we know that work, to move brand equity."

2 comments about "What Kimberly-Clark Has Learned From Taking Programmatic In-House".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, May 22, 2017 at 8:45 a.m.

    Tobi, there isn't much about exactly what Kimberly-Clark has learned by using programmatic buying for itsĀ  digital sales promotion operations---as opposed to its traditional media buys. I would have liked to learn how much KC has improved its targeting capabilituies, how it deals with ad viewability issues associated with programmatic buying, etc. Also, regarding "addressable TV", which is sort of luimped in with programmatic, I wonder if KC can define the resulting sales lifts that automated "addressable TV" generates over just buying the time directly from the "addressable TV" folks. Has KC been able to significantly increase its "adressabe TV" effectiveness by using automated buying. Finally, aside from the platitudes, what cautions has KC to offer other advertisers going in-house and thinking about programmatic for their digital sales promotional buys? Is this merely a way to save person power? Does it pay out, when the high costs of programmatic buying are factored in?

  2. Tom Cunniff from Tom Cunniff, May 22, 2017 at 5:45 p.m.

    On this same subject, I like what Rocket Fuel's Randy Wootton had to say about P&G's Hawkeye experiment. Good short read with useful insights: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/pgs-7-year-itch-what-marketers-can-learn-randy-wootton

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