The Buy-Side View: Q&A with Montblanc’s Maria Gräfin von Scheel-Plessen


Maria von Scheel-PlessenIn this week’s ‘Buy-Side View’, we speak with Maria Gräfin von Scheel-Plessen, global media manager for German luxury brand Montblanc. In this interview, von Scheel-Plessen discusses how being a luxury brand affects the sorts of metrics she values most for video advertising, and why she wants to see higher viewability standards adopted across the industry.

What is your biggest bugbear when it comes to video and OTT advertising?

For video advertising, with Montblanc being a luxury brand, brand safety is obviously very important for us. On the other side for me the challenge with video advertising is more the buying type, so when exactly are you paying? Do you use cost-per-click, and when do you consider a user to be engaged?

I do believe that when you’re advertising a €4-5k watch, it doesn’t make sense to pay for a video view when the customer has only seen three or four seconds. So we say we need 100 percent completion rates. But this is a challenge, trying to get publishers on board with our unique standards.

Which ad tech solution has delivered the most impact for your business?

We’ve had very good experiences with Teads. Outstream generally works well for us, and they have a very good whitelist. We as a luxury brand work on whitelists only, and then many publishers are already pretty limited, but Teads have a very good choice and are also very adaptive. Both the volume of the inventory and the quality we got with Teads were good.

Which do you think video advertising is the most effective for – generating awareness and brand-building, or driving short-term sales?

It’s definitely about brand building and generating awareness for me. For driving short-term sales I would use static ads, search ads, and also website and social retargeting. Maybe rich media formats can also drive short-term sales, if it’s a bit interactive for example, or if you have a boutique locator in the asset. But generally video is for awareness and brand building.

Are you investing in OTT advertising? How will the shift towards OTT change your TV buying strategy?

We’re not doing any OTT advertising at the moment, but we are looking into it. At the moment though I’d be more interested in programmatic buying for digital out-of-home. TV and OTT would be the cherry on top of the cake, but also a very expensive one, at least that’s what I think. I’ve so far not come across any proposals which would have convinced me to change my mind.

What could brands do to help clean up the industry?

I think we need to push publishers even more for higher viewability standards, and also to enable us to use third-party tracking tools like IAS, for example. I know that not many publishers allow these today. Some do, but others we’ve worked with don’t.

This is changing a bit now, but I think we need to push the publishers even more to enable even higher safety standards, and also to increase viewability – for example raising standards to where ads needs to have been seen 100 percent for at least three seconds. I think we need to collectively push more on this end. This is especially the case in China, where we see a lot of fraud, and due to the walled gardens we can’t really implement any third-party tracking.

And for brands to really put pressure on publishers, I think it requires us to withdraw budgets. From my experience, unfortunately that’s the only thing that works.

Which metrics do you value the most when it comes to video and OTT advertising?

As I mentioned before we look at completion rates, and are looking for 100 percent completion rates specifically. Beside this, I really value when we have the possibility to look deeper into the quality of the users who click onto our website. I know that video is mostly for reach and brand awareness purposes, but when we have the opportunity to drive someone to our website who has shown interest, and then we can see if that person has a very low bounce rate and high interaction levels, that’s what I’d value the most. But at the top level, completed video views is what we use most.

If you had £1,000,000 to spend and were forced to choose between content marketing, influencer marketing or paid advertising, which would you choose and why?

I would split it 50 percent content marketing, thirty percent paid advertising and twenty percent influencer marketing. If you create content but you don’t have paid advertising behind it, you need to be a very very cool brand to spread awareness and have that content be seen!

Which person in the industry inspires you the most today?

As an example of female leadership, I’d pick [Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg. Then also, it’s a company not a person, but I find LinkedIn to be inspiring because of their speed of innovation – they’ve done some very cool things with targeting, and they’re evolving pretty quickly.

Out of all the video and TV advertising campaigns you’ve been involved with, which are you most proud of?

Our recently launched travel campaign, which is for a new travel trolley [or suitcase] collection. We have a very cool campaign using different, we call them ‘mark makers’, who are inspirational personas travelling around the world, be it the metro in Hong Kong or the Berlin underground. We managed to get a mix of different professional backgrounds and we found the impact of the campaign has been very successful.


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