We Need More Stringent Standards for Outcome-Based Marketing says Xaxis’ Harcus

Xaxis recently announced a new six-second video ad format that allows clients to run campaigns across premium content on platforms including Snapchat, Spotify, and Twitter. In this Q&A, Harry Harcus, UK and pan-regional managing director, explores the power six seconds has to offer, the shift toward outcome-based media, and what the future holds for Xaxis.

As the GroupM product range has grown, there’s a bit of confusion in the market about which division does what. Could you explain where Xaxis fits in alongside GroupM Digital, [m]PLATFORM and Finecast?
With a number of specialist units within the GroupM business, it can seem complex. Xaxis is unique as the Outcome Media Company, and operates as GroupM’s advanced full-service programmatic media platform.

Another component of GroupM is [m]PLATFORM, an advanced technology suite of flexible audience management applications, data analytics, and digital services. At Xaxis, we use their audience-centric tool [m]Insight to complement our programmatic expertise and capabilities, to deliver innovative communications to the right audience, and achieve the desired marketing or business outcome. In addition to Xaxis, GroupM Digital provides some itemised programmatic consultancy and operations, which supports and complements the work we do at Xaxis. And finally, Finecast is an addressable TV company, allowing advertisers to extend precision targeting in to the addressable/connected TV space.

Each unit within the GroupM business complements one another, and being part of the largest media investment group allows us to draw on extremely talented individuals with a range of specialisms to deliver innovative, high quality and truly accountable marketing and advertising.

You’ve been trialling six-second ads. How have they been working?
We launched our six-second video ad format earlier this year and the results are very promising. Initial campaigns showed that >70 percent of six-second video ads were viewed through to completion, proving that in an age of digital distraction, bitesize content is a winner for consumers and advertisers alike.

A real strength of the format is the door it opens for advertisers to work simply and effectively with brands such as Twitter, Snap, Spotify, and Global to reach millions of UK consumers in a brand safe, premium non-UGC digital environment.

Were the creatives used in those campaigns custom made for six second campaigns, or were they thirty second ads that had been adapted?
We’re seeing both custom and adapted designs come through from our clients and their creative agencies. To make the most of the six-second format, and the brand awareness it can drive, we’d encourage advertisers to consider investing in high-quality creative specifically designed for the format.

For example, Hawaiian Tropic recently rolled out specially designed six-second videos alongside longer-form content to enhance its re-brand to appeal to an 18-24 year old female audience. And the results speak for themselves; 82% of people watched the videos for three seconds or longer.

Xaxis has been one of the most prominent proponents of outcome-based marketing. Who is typically determining the choice of outcomes – the client or the agency? What type of outcomes are the most popular?
Outcome-based marketing should be directly aligned with business objectives and we work closely with our clients to determine what these should be. When wider business objectives are understood, marketing KPIs can be identified, and a strategy set to allow outcome-driven media deliver the desired results. One recent Xaxis campaign saw us increase the number of visits to an Ikea store in Indonesia, which involved measuring in-store footfall to demonstrate how effective our efforts had been.

The drive towards outcome-based media cannot stand alone, and must be built upon pre-existing industry guidelines. We fully support the minimum standards set by the likes of the Media Rating Council and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, but also hold ourselves to more stringent standards. For example, viewability remains a popular metric for many of our clients, but the GroupM viewability standard only considers display ads to be viewable when 100% of pixels are in-view for a second, as opposed to the industry-wide standard of 50%, and premium video ads to be viewable when reaching 50% play, user initiated with sound on.

What does the Xaxis road-map look like? Are you expanding into new areas?
Programmatic is constantly evolving, and as a long-time leading programmatic company, we’re committed to innovating and investing resources to evolve with it, in line with consumer behaviour. To reflect this, you’ll see an even greater Xaxis presence in audio, social and digital out-of-home solutions.

Beyond that, we’re working hard to incorporate Artificial Intelligence into everything we do, and our proprietary AI technology, Copilot, complements our human intelligence to continue delivering outcome-driven media buying.

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