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On today’s Deep Dive with Oyster, we’ll be discussing best practices, tips, and insights on how brands can identify the right media -mix, COVID-19, and the future of media with John Lods, Founder & CEO of Arm Candy, an agency with $40M+ in annual spend that specializes in Media Planning, Media Buying, Campaign Management, Data Analytics, Education, and Consulting.
For our readers who are not yet familiar with Arm Candy can you provide a little background?
Founded in 2019, Arm Candy is a hybrid boutique blending the experience and leadership of media agency executives with the innovation and spirit of technology and data savants to deliver smarter, more effective (most effective agency according to The Drum) media campaigns for clients. Arm Candy has been built for the modern age of massive consumer upheaval and we’re thriving in the heart of the Dallas Metroplex!
Today’s topic is centered around identifying the right media mix and best practices. In your opinion, what are the fundamental elements any brand should include in their media mix?
It all stems from what the brand is trying to achieve. Ultimately, the goal is to maximize the returns from the media being invested. Every single channel, whether it’s DOOH to Radio to emerging platforms like TikTok, have a place and purpose in a media mix. The idea is to really lock in the KPIs you want to deliver and from there, reverse engineer a strategy based on driving the most results within the budget you’re working from.
Can you share an exciting case study where Arm Candy was able to help a client achieve or exceed goals with their media mix?
Every client is unique, I think something we do extraordinarily well is understanding the ins and outs of their business, procurement, finance, distribution, etc. so we can execute strategies that deliver on our clients capacity, capabilities and where they have the most opportunity for growth and revenue.
Understanding a client’s margins between products and services has allowed us to scale one of our apparel e-commerce brands we started working with in September, extraordinarily fast. In the last nine months, we’ve driven more revenue than their previous two years combined. They’ve posted historic top 30 days in their 18-year history since we’ve started working together. They’re over 400% YoY this year in sales and we’ve broken record after record and been able to scale returns. We’ve raised their ROAS goals from 2x, to 4x, to now 6x, as we continue to raise the bar on performance. When our clients are successful, we’re successful, as our 20K/month budget has now increased to 300K/month with this particular example.
It’s something of a competition for us and that’s what’s really been a joy in what we’re building here at Arm Candy. We set out to build a media agency that sets a new standard in the media advertising industry and in many cases, we’re starting to compete against ourselves on just how high we can set the bar.
We’ve talked about the fundamental elements of a media mix, but what are some of the most common reasons brands might struggle with these fundamentals and how can they eliminate friction in order to be successful?
Currently, we hear about a lot of brands and agencies over-segmenting and over-applying audiences as targeting capabilities can be leveraged as a sales mechanism. What brands are struggling to realize are the costs associated with leveraging certain types of data and it’s our philosophy that just because you can target an audience, doesn’t mean you should.
Over segmentation can be the death of scale, and so really it comes down to understanding the economics of those audiences and ensuring that the right segments are being applied across the right channels.
What do you think are the mid/long-term repercussions for brands that do not have a robust media-mix in their marketing strategy?
We have consistently noticed brands becoming more and more reliant on one to two channels vs. a more holistic approach. We’re all about maximizing the returns from those high performing channels, but it is also important to be aware of the risks involved with putting all your eggs into one or two baskets. If those channels went away tomorrow, would you be okay? It’s essentially risk mitigation.
If you can continue to diversify the streams in which you’re seeing positive returns and scale other opportunities into high returning channels, then you’re always going to be better off. Your high performing channels will see growth being supported from other touchpoints being entered into the equation, too.
It’s also important to note that digital channels tend to drive shorter ad recall and require an always-on scenario to be successful whereas traditional investments really drive much longer-lasting brand impact. Balancing traditional and digital together, can be a fantastic way to drive continual returns and continual growth and merging the two together into a systematic equation of touchpoints will yield much higher returns more often than not, than leveraging one or the other.
What trends have you observed with how brands are handling media strategy due to COVID-19 and what do you think are the key takeaways moving forward?
We’ve seen extraordinary success with every client that has stayed on during this crisis. Some clients have gone so far as to need to pause spends due to capacity or the need to wisely manage liquidity issues and this is understandable. However, others are seeing record-setting revenue growth week after week.
With large advertisers pulling budgets and consumers spending more time across all devices, it created a perfect storm of events that drove extreme efficiencies in the media marketplace across nearly every exchange and inventory source.
These gained efficiencies, combined with consumer decision making lead to a big opportunity for advertisers to attract new customers, increase sales from their existing customer base and do so at extreme discounts in comparison to previous periods.
The 2008 recession saw very similar events where advertisers who stayed on during that time period saw much higher sales in comparison to their competitors who did not and it altered the trajectory of their brand and business, permanently.
We’re seeing this same trend take place in 2020 and it’s a shining example of the impact a flexible, attentive, and capable media partner/team can drive for a brand and organization as a whole.
If interested, you can check out our ‘Advertiser’s Guide to COVID-19’ blog to learn more.
Where do you see the future of marketing/media and where are you (Arm Candy) placing your next bets?
I think as ad technologies continue to advance their offering and advertising channels become easier and easier to self-service, the demand for savvy business professionals who manage media investments vs. people who know how to work platforms, will continue to grow. And the need for media professionals to be able to understand the value of different advertising mechanisms, between digital and traditional, will continue to grow as well.
The majority of media buyers and planners today couldn’t tell you the avg. CPMs you’d expect from a local tv buy in DC in Q4 and Display CPMs leveraging a location-based data segment in the same city. That’s an issue. If you don’t know the economics and expected outcomes of every channel or platform that exists today, how can you expect to form a plan with the sole intention of maximizing profits?
The future rests in the ability to navigate all channels and platforms in a streamlined and flexible structure and the media advertising industry has built silos (programmatic, social, search, tv, radio, ooh, print, you name it.) that makes it difficult for its future leaders to have a full understanding of each part of the equation.
This concludes Oyster’s Deep Dive with Arm Candy featuring this week’s guest John Lods, Founder & CEO. We hope that you enjoyed this interview and can apply some of these insights to your own business. Be sure to keep track of our Deep Dive Series for more industry insights, recommendations, and best practices weekly with businesses/partners and their owners.